Coach Paul Mainieri has received assurances from 11 of his 12-member freshman signing class that they’ll play for LSU and not sign pro contracts.
That means the Tigers will reel in a group that Mainieri says might be the best he’s ever signed in eight years at LSU.
Mainieri sat down with The Advocate earlier this week to discuss the signing class, among other topics. You can read the full Q&A with the coach in The Advocate on Saturday (Part I) and Sunday (Part II).
For now, here’s a portion of Part II of the chat where Mainieri touches on this class of freshmen.
Q: How excited are you about this freshman class?
Mainieri: I haven’t been this excited about a class since, really, our first class that came in – the class with (Kevin) Gausman and (Ryan) Eades and (Jacoby) Jones and (Ty) Ross. That was a pretty great class, too. Probably felt the same way about that class. This class, I don’t know, it just strikes me as being the perfect class. I know that it’s hard to say that something’s perfect, but it just feels that way. We’ve got some really high end players that literally turned down $1 million. One turned down $1 million. One turned down very close to $1 million. The rest of them were going to be draft choices between the third and 12th round if they wanted to be. The reason they didn’t get picked there was because they had indicated to pro scout that they were going to go to LSU no matter what. They didn’t waste draft picks on them.
We had five draft picks that are coming to school, but trust me when I tell you that the rest of them that weren’t drafted easily would have been or could have been or should have been.
This is a talented group. We’ve got the pitchers that are going to replenish our staff, plus we’ll have three or four guys coming back from injury last year. I’m excited about that. I think our staff is going to be strong. We’re just going to have some youth. That’s not going to be an excuse. We’re going to have to get them ready quickly. We’ve got the right pitching coach to do that.
I’m also equally as excited about the position players. The two Jordan boys at Barbe (Beau and Bryce) are winners. If you looked up the word ‘winner’ in the dictionary, you’d see their pictures there. They’re good ballplayers.
I think (Greg) Deichmann and (Grayson) Byrd are going to be really
great players here. And Mike Papierski reminds me an awful lot of Micah Gibbs. Maybe even better. He’s a switch hitting catcher that has the talent and the tools and is going to have a tremendous future here. I’m equally excited about those guys. If you asked me to draw up the perfect class, this would be it. I think (recruiting coordinator and hitting coach Javi) Sanchez did an amazing job putting it together.
Q: What do you tell an 18-year old who calls and tells you that he turned down $1 million to come play for you?
Mainieri: I tell them that they exhibited an unparalleled level of confidence in themselves of decisiveness and of valuing what the experience of LSU is going to be like. Personally, I think they all made good decisions. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
I totally understand Bobby Bradley, why he decided to sign. I totally supported his decision to do that, and I wish him nothing but the best. The other kids who turned it down and decided to come to LSU, I’m going to wrap my arms around them, welcome them into the program and get to work.
I think they’re going to have a significant impact on the program. I don’t know if it’s going to be ranked the No. 1 class in the country. It should be. That’s the talent on the team. That’s the talent in the class. I don’t know how those people that rank them do that, but for me it’s the No. 1 class in the country. It might be the best class we ever had here.