Scott Rabalais: With Emery Jones, LSU has reason to be optimistic about the future | LSU

There was no drama on signing day Wednesday with Catholic High Emery Jones offensive tackle. No hats out of a bag, no school-colored animals or jackets that hid the name of the team of choice.

There was only one hat on the table in the Catholic high school student union, a hat that read LSU in large purple print. Shortly after 12:30 p.m., before the eyes of his family and fellow athletes, Jones posed in his Under Armor All-American jersey (he will play in the prestigious high school All-Star game on January 2 in Orlando, Fla.), then stepped in over to sign her national letter of intent with LSU as her mother Tanika stood beaming behind her right shoulder.

Football for all its magic and new age analyzes are at the heart of the game it has always been. Reduced to its essence, you must block and you must attack. LSU for most of 2021 frankly wasn’t very good at either, much of the reason the Tigers are 6-6 and Ed Orgeron isn’t their coach and Brian Kelly is now.

To improve in the blocking game, LSU desperately needed players like Jones, a 6-foot-4, 330-pound four-star prospect who captained the Catholic High offense as the Bears won a championship. of State earlier this month. To restore some calm over the past two tumultuous seasons, Catholic high school coach David Simoneaux said Jones was also the kind of person LSU needed.

All the speculation and rumors about whether Walker Howard of St. Thomas More would honor his commitment to LSU turned out to be a lot of publicity …

“It’s hard to say how special and rare he is,” said Simoneaux. “When you see a guy as talented as he is, and his character and work ethic is beyond the type of talent he is, it doesn’t happen very often. He is at the top.

“In talking to Coach Kelly, the type of guy he’s trying to recruit in terms of character and work ethic, Emery fits that bill. He’s a five-star and four-star soccer player – no matter what the gurus have rated him for – and I think he’s ready to play.

Jones said he has a long-standing relationship with some of Louisiana’s other top players LSU signed on Wednesday: five-star offensive tackle Will Campbell of Neville, the state’s top prospect; St. Thomas More quarterback Walker Howard; and Madison Prep defensive end Quency Wiggins, who came to Jones’ signing party in a purple LSU cap and shirt. It wouldn’t be a surprise one day to see Campbell start on the left tackle and Jones stand by his side at the left guard post.

“We’re about to get down to business now,” Jones said. “Getting ready for the Under Armor game, then getting ready for college. We’re definitely trying (to land other recruits). We got Q (Wiggins) so we did a good job.

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“We’re going to win a national championship.

Yet with the change of coach Jones had to know that things were still to his liking at LSU. On the “After Further Review” radio show on WNXX-FM on December 6, Jones told host Matt Moscona that he would not sign until February. But Kelly made Catholic High and Jones her first stop after accepting the LSU job. He retained offensive line coach and native of Baton Rouge, Brad Davis (interim LSU coach for the Texas Bowl). And he did enough to convince Jones that now was the time and that LSU was the place for him.

“It had a huge impact,” Jones said. “Coach Davis is my guy. We strongly believe in each other. I’m really excited that they’re keeping Coach Davis. I’m really comfortable with Coach Davis. I think we’re going to make some noise on the O line next year.

The first class of a new coach will always be a fight, and indeed, there have been disappointments. LSU couldn’t stop St. James wide receiver Shazz Preston or Karr wide receiver Aaron Anderson from signing with arch rivals Alabama. The Tigers couldn’t keep U-High cornerback Austin Ausberry on campus or keep cornerback JaDarian Rhym of Georgia – both went to Auburn.

But the victories were there too, starting with Jones. The Tigers had just 11 commitments coming Wednesday, but signed 13, adding Wiggins and Lafayette cornerback Christian Jordan Allen. Mandeville wide receiver Landon Ibieta was a Miami flip at LSU in the 11th hour. And even the fact that the safety of Ponchatoula Jacoby Matthews, a Top 40 prospect who pulled out of LSU in July, didn’t sign with anyone on Wednesday was a good sign for the Tigers as Kelly and his team have time to work on it.

LSU coach Brian Kelly hosted a reunion last week at Lafayette Christian Academy with the signing of Tigers offensive line Fitzgerald West, Knig…

Considering the situation, LSU got good quality – if not quantity. At 6 p.m. on Wednesday, LSU’s class was only ranked 18th on’s composite list. But in terms of average score per rookie, the Tigers ranked 10th nationally, ahead of the top 10 classes in Texas and Michigan, both of which have signed more players.

There is a lot of work to be done by February. Kelly has the rest of her team to fill. There are players to catch up. And LSU must take full advantage of the transfer portal to land the maximum 32 players (25 signers and seven transfers) allowed by the NCAA this year.

But the hard work of establishing a base and keeping it has been done. Thanks to Orgeron, who, even upon his exit, encouraged Jones to sign with LSU. Credit to Kelly. And thank you to players like Jones, who is exactly the kind of player and person a coach would be happy to have.

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