It is simple to quantify why LSU nabbing Texas Tech transfer Breiden Fehoko is significant.
Fehoko, a two-year starter at defensive tackle for the Red Raiders, was an Under Armour All-American and a consensus top-50 player nationally in the class of 2015. When he becomes eligible in 2018, he will add a veteran presence to the LSU defensive line that will lose three seniors after 2017.
For Ed Orgeron, it is a heavyweight recruiting win against conference foes Auburn, Georgia and Ole Miss. And there is deeper value in Fehoko picking LSU, considering the reason he gave for choosing the Tigers – veteran defensive line coach Pete Jenkins.
Jenkins, who has spent five decades coaching the defensive line at every level, is widely regarded as one of the greatest to ever coach the position. Still, he only joined Orgeron’s staff last season as a favor to Orgeron and agreed to stay on in 2017. While nothing has been decided, it is unlikely that Jenkins, who was retired and living in Florida, will stay on staff beyond next season. Jenkins turns 76 on August 27.
While Jenkins’ knowledge is unquestioned, his role became a topic before National Signing Day when four-star defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis picked Alabama over LSU and cited an absence of a relationship with Jenkins as the reason.
“They got Pete Jenkins over there, the D-line coach, and I never got to talk to him because he’s busy,” Mathis told reporters immediately after his commitment. “If I’m playing for you, you can call me and I can get your contact number from you.”
LSU staff members privately deny that Mathis never had contact with Jenkins. Last week, Mathis attempted to clarify his comments.
“That was a lie right there,” Mathis told SEC Country. “I never said that.
“I guess they got me wrong. What I meant was I just felt like he didn’t recruit me as well as (Alabama defensive line) Coach (Karl) Dunbar did. Coach Dunbar (an LSU alum) was just around more. I know Coach Jenkins became the defensive line coach kind of late, but I just felt like if he was going to coach me, I just needed to talk to him more.”
Regardless, there were questions about how involved Jenkins would be in recruiting his position players, and if other schools would use that to recruit against LSU. Fehoko seems to have answered that question emphatically.
“Having a a defensive line coach who is a legend and a head coach who is a defensive line coach by trade – that was the X-factor,” Fehoko told TigerBlitz.com.
Fehoko told The Advocate that he, Jenkins, Orgeron and linebacker coach Dennis Johnson watched film for two hours on his visit to Baton Rouge.
“With a year under Coach O and Coach Pete,” Fehoko told Geaux247, “I know my progression will be soaring by the time I become eligible in 2018.”
That is a far cry from the perception of a position coach that didn’t even give a prospect a contact number. Whatever the truth with the Mathis situation, what’s clear now is that Orgeron has figured out how to use Jenkins as an asset in recruiting. What is also apparent is that LSU will have a stout defensive line in 2018 despite impending personnel losses.
(You can follow Matt Moscona on Twitter @MattMoscona)
© 2016, gridironnow.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.