The LSU Tigers lost out on two of the top secondary players in the country on Wednesday night when Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman both snubbed the Tigers for UCLA. LSU could have used their skills on its roster, but the Tigers will be able to move on without them.
LSU has a very talented roster that remains in Baton Rouge despite the recent defections to the NFL. One of the most talented position sets on roster is the secondary.
While the Tigers always play underclassmen and have early playing time that would come available, sitting in line is not what Willis and Goodman were looking for.
Priest Willis is a player who could fill a role as a safety or corner, while Goodman is a pure safety. Both are solid in run support and can hold up in coverage, but a major separator is man coverage ability.
Goodman is good enough to keep tight in man coverage, showing fast hips throughout his high school career. Willis doesn’t have the ideal quickness in his hips to be a solid lockdown corner.
Both have the skills to impact a defense from day one, but Goodman is the more immediately ready prospect. While Willis would have gotten looks at LSU, he would not likely have seen much playing time in his first season.
Goodman is a unique prospect because of his on-field instincts. He has the ability to close fast in open-field plays and makes a solid strike when he arrives on target.
While they will be special players at the next level, LSU has a roster full of them.
Starting safety Craig Loston returns this year, and they have Ronald Martin stepping in at free safety. Micah Eugene is also a player with some game experience under his belt.
The Tigers also have Corey Thompson in the secondary. Thompson has some experience from his freshman season and is a rising playmaker at safety for LSU.
At the corner position the Tigers are loaded as well with the return of Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins. Both were explosive freshmen a year ago who will be starters for this defense for the next two years at minimum.
Loston is a rising senior, Martin will be a junior and the others will be sophomores. It would be a long wait for for Willis and Goodman if they decided to land in Baton Rouge.
Instead they chose to make the move into the Pac-12, where their skills against the pass will be tested every weekend.
While LSU hates to lose out on top talent that can contribute immediately, the team is not losing much by not landing these recruits. The Tigers' secondary is full of underclassmen with experience. Adding a few more wouldn’t do much for the team’s success this season.
LSU will be just fine without these two stars, but it still hurts like a pulled-off Band-Aid.