Coach of 5-star DT Ishmael Sopsher: Players ‘ecstatic’ with interest from LSU

Ishmael Sopsher

BATON ROUGE, La. — After signing LSU’s lowest-rated recruiting class since Les Miles’ first in 2005, Ed Orgeron will look for a big recruiting year in 2019. He won’t have to search too far: 13 players in Louisiana are four-star prospects or above.

The headliner of the class is the nation’s No. 1 overall player, Amite (La.) High defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher. Orgeron and his staff aren’t wasting any time building that relationship or with Sopsher’s teammate, wide receiver Devonta Lee, the No. 47 overall player in the class.

“Speaking on LSU, that’s the flagship,” Amite coach Zephaniah Powell told “Sports Today” on 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge. “When Ishmael and Devonta got those offers, they were ecstatic. They virtually came running into my office, ‘Hey, coach, LSU offered me.’ “

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Powell said Orgeron was at Amite High recruiting Sopsher and Lee at 7 a.m. the day the recruiting period opened. He also acknowledged that not only Orgeron but “pretty much everybody on (LSU’s) staff” has been to Amite to recruit his players.

While LSU would seem to have the inside track in recruiting players who live less than an hour from its campus, recent history might suggest otherwise. Former Amite wide receiver DeVonta Smith signed with Alabama in the class of 2017 as the No. 2 player in Louisiana. Smith cemented his place in Crimson Tide lore when he hauled in the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime of the national championship game to beat Georgia last month.

“I kind of want to put something to bed,” Powell said. “Everybody thinks where we’re located, because we have a young man that is playing at the University of Alabama, that we’re pro- this school or pro- that school. That’s completely false. That’s not the case. Our kids, they’re completely open to every university.

“But the flagship — the flagship — is where a lot of our kids are looking to go right now because of Coach Orgeron, because of what he’s doing and what he’s trying to accomplish.”

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Powell said Sopsher has sought advice from some former top-rated players, such as five-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who signed with Houston in 2016. Powell has spoken to high school coaches of former top-ranked players for input on how to handle the attention surrounding a high-profile player.

“They’re very humble young men,” said Powell of Sopsher and Lee. “High-character guys that come from great families.”

Orgeron is hoping both will join the LSU family next February.

(You can follow Matt Moscona on Twitter @MattMoscona)

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