Sunday, January 31, 2010

LSU Receives Commitment; Weekend Recap


LSU had a surprise visitor over the weekend in Slidell high school receiver and Arkansas commitment Armand Williams.  Williams received an offer from LSU on the visit and he committed immediately.  The opportunity to play for the hometown team was impossible to pass up.  Williams has a whole lot of potential.  He has good size at 6'3" 185 pounds and good speed at 4.50.   He put up some ridiculous combine numbers over the summer.  He also recorded a 41" vertical leap, a 11'7" in the broad jump (which is the best I've ever heard of), and is a state champion in the high jump.  So there's really no questioning this kid's athleticism.   The question then becomes whether Williams can run routes, catch the football, and block.  Those are things that can be coached easier than speed and athleticism.  

Florida receiver Kadron Boone had a great visit to LSU and rated it a perfect 10.  He did not commit to LSU on the visit, but I believe LSU is squarely in the driver's seat to land him.  He will announce on signing day, and it looks like his final decision will be between LSU, Louisville, and Texas Tech.  I predict that LSU will sign Boone. 

Georgia defensive J.C. Copeland also had a great visit to LSU but did not commit.  His final decision will be between Tennessee and LSU, and it looks like a coin flip as to who he'll choose.   Copeland looks like a real difference maker, and I'll have my fingers crossed on signing day that LSU was able to steal him away. 

Evangel high school defensive tackle Brandon Jackson also visited LSU, and he also did not commit.  Still considered a Texas A&M commitment, Jackson remains a very real possibility for LSU.  It's still unclear whether the staff would take both Copeland and Jackson. 

Shreveport receiver Jarrett Fobbs appears to be a done deal to Texas A&M.  It's a little disappointing that LSU wasn't able to turn Fobbs away from A&M to LSU.   It will be interesting to follow Fobbs' career to see how he pans out. 

Friday, January 29, 2010

Final Recruiting Weekend


In the crazy world of recruiting, things change in an instant. This is often magnified during the final week before National Signing Day.  LSU is still sitting with 24 verbal commitments, and they're looking to add a few more before Wednesday. 

Florida wide receiver Kadron Boone (pictured) is visiting LSU this weekend.  In my opinion, Boone is the most likely of LSU's remaining targets to ultimately sign with LSU.  A former Texas Tech commitment, Boone started exploring his options once head coach Mike Leach was fired.  A native of Florida, Boone is very familiar with LSU receivers coach Billy Gonzales, who coached at Florida since 2005.  That relationship will help LSU quite a bit.  Combined with LSU's need for receivers in this class, I'd be surprised if Boone didn't end up a Tiger after this weekend. 

Things were looking good with Shreveport receiver Jarrett Fobbs after he took a visit to LSU last weekend.  LSU looked to be in great shape despite Fobbs being a Texas A&M commitment for several months.  But yesterday, news leaked that Fobbs was taking an official visit to Texas A&M this weekend.   That's obviously not a real good sign for LSU, and it's clear that Fobbs is struggling to come to a decison.  LSU coach Les Miles visited Fobbs Thursday night, but it still appears that Fobbs is visiting College Station.  Fobbs' father is supposedly a big LSU fan while his mother supposedly favors Texas A&M.  This one will likely come down to the wire. 

LSU wanted to bring in Evangal wide receiver Eric Thomas for a visit this weekend.  After originally scheduling the visit, Thomas now appears headed to Southern for a visit.  Thomas has good size at 6'2" 200 pounds, and he was ridiculously productive for Evangel this season.  He had 11 catches for 104 yards in the state championship game against John Curtis.  Thomas doesn't have any major offers and is clearly a fall back option for LSU.   Does the fact that he is no longer visiting mean that LSU feels good about where they stand with Fobbs?  

The biggest surprise this week was the news that Georgia defensive lineman J.C. Copeland will be visiting LSU.  Copeland has been a commitment to Tennessee for some time but started to look around after Lane Kiffin left to go to USC.  He is a teammate of LSU commitment Brandon Worle and is excited about the possibility of playing with Worle in college.  Copeland was going to visit South Carolina this weekend, but LSU convinced him to come to Baton Rouge instead.  It looks like LSU has a real shot here.  Copeland looks like a hell of a prospect too.  Here is some video of him in action:

Evangel High School defensive tackle Brandon Jackson is also visiting LSU this weekend.  Jackson has been a Texas A&M commitment since April, but is strongly considering LSU.  LSU just recently started showing interest in Jackson after Cassius Marsh de-committed to attend UCLA.  While Jackson is a fall back option, he's no slouch.  He had offers from Arkansas and Tennessee and was receiving strong interest from Alabama, taking a visit there a couple of weeks ago.  In my view, Copeland is the superior prospect and it's unclear whether LSU would take both guys. 

South Carolina linebacker Justin Parker remains a possibility.  He maintains that LSU and Clemson are his leaders, but all signs seem to be pointing towards Clemson right now. 

Virginia defensive lineman Ego Ferguson is also a possibility.  LSU is still in contention.  He is visiting Miami this weekend, where his mother lives.  He had a very strong visit to Florida State last weekend.  Because of those two things, most are beginning to believe that Ferguson will be playing somewhere in the state of Florida.  LSU has more than a puncher's chance here though. 

There's nothing going on with Thibodaux receiver Trovon Reed.  He seems solid to Auburn. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Seastrunk to announce Wednesday


Texas RB Lache Seastrunk is set to announce his college decision on Wednesday at 4:30 PM.  After a fairly wacky recruitment, Seastrunk is set to decide between LSU, Auburn, Oregon, USC, Baylor, and Memphis.   Oregon is considered the favorite heading into the announcement.  I'll update the site after his choice to let everyone know who he chose.

UPDATE:   Lache Seastrunk has chosen to attend Oregon. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Recruiting Weekend Recap


LSU hosted a number of prospects on their official visits this weekend, and it appears the results are very good.   First and foremost, LSU received a commitment from Belle Chase wide receiver James Wright.   I've talked about Wright a lot on this blog, and I'm very high on him.  At 6'2" 180 pounds, he fits the mold of the big wide receivers who have had so much success at LSU this decade.  He also looks physically ready to play as a freshman if needed.  He has also been one of the most productive wide receivers in the state of Louisiana over the last two seasons. 

Junior season:  58 receptions 1,058 yards 18 TDs  22 carries 214 yards 4 TDs
Senior season:  56 receptions  1,175 yards 15 TDs  18 carries 191 yards 4 TDs

Wright is a good candidate to end up being the sleeper of this class in a few years.  Both Scout and Rivals rate Wright as four stars. 

Shreveport receiver Jarrett Fobbs also visited this weekend and reportedly had a great visit.  While still listed as a commitment to Texas A&M, Fobbs claims he is wide oepn and he sure seems to be leaning LSU's way.  I suspect that Fobbs will sign with LSU on signing day. 

Thibodaux wide receiver Trovon Reed took his visit this weekend, but it doesn't appear he's wavering on his commitment to Auburn. 

California safety Dietrich Riley was in Baton Rouge this weekend, and he's saying all the right things.  He is saying that LSU has now pulled even with USC and UCLA and that he now has a lot to think about.  However, the smart money is that Riley decides on a school out west. 

South Carolina linebacker Justin Parker also made the trip.  He didn't show up in Baton Rouge until Saturday night because he had the take the ACT test in the morning.  Parker would be a huge addition to this class, but LSU is fighting distance since Parker is also considering Clemson and South Carolina. 

Florida receiver Kadron Boone and Georgia receiver Markeith Ambles are scheduled to visit LSU next weekend.  If LSU lands Fobbs like I expect, then either Boone or Ambles could complete the Tigers' wide recievers class.  If both Boone and Ambles want to come aboard, I think LSU would find room for both.  LSU is in much better shape with Boone right now than Ambles. 

Dfensive tackle Cassius Marsh seems to be leaning to UCLA even though he hasn't formally "de-committed from LSU."  At this point, I'd be downright shocked if Marsh ended up signing with LSU. 

Evangel high school defensive tackle Brandon Jackson will also be visiting LSU next weekend.  Jackson is currently on Texas A&M's commitment list, but he now has offers from both LSU and Arkansas and is considering both.  He also received heavy interest from Alabama, and he took an official visit there on January 15.  I like LSU's chances with Jackson. 

If LSU can't land Justin Parker but they really want another linebacker in this class, then Brother Martin's Pat Swilling Jr. is a possibility. 

Wright's commitment brings LSU's total to 24.  So with a maximum of four more spots remaining, LSU's board is pretty clear at this point.  Here are the players that LSU has a chance of signing:

RB  Lache Seastrunk  TX
WR  Jarrett Fobbs  LA
WR  Kadron Boone  FL
WR  Markeith Ambles  GA
WR  Trovon Reed  LA
DT  Brandon Jackson  LA
DE  Ego Ferguson  VA
LB  Justin Parker  SC
DB  Dietrich Riley  CA

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

LSU and the 2010 NFL Draft; Recruiting and Football Update


The Senior Bowl is the premier event for college seniors to showcase their skills for NFL Scouts.  A number of LSU seniors have been invited to this prestigious game on January 30th.  The list of Tigers going to the Senior Bowl is as follows:

OT  Ciron Black
LB  Harry Coleman (may play DB)
WR  Brandon Lafell
RB  Charles Scott

A total of 25 players from the SEC will be participating in the Senior Bowl. 

The East-West Shrine game is a similar game for NFL Draft hopefuls.  The game is this Saturday, January 23.LSU has a couple of players in the East-West Shrine game as well.  They are:

TE  Richard Dickson
DE  Rahim Alem

The NFL Combine is where the best of the best of draft candidates go to run through drills, lift weights, interview with teams, etc.   LSU has a number of guys invited to the NFL Combine:

DE  Rahim Alem
DT  Charles Alexander
OT  Ciron Black
LB  Harry Coleman
CB  Chris Hawkins
RS  Trindon Holliday
WR  Brandon Lafell
LB  Perry Riley
RB  Charles Scott
RB  Keiland Williams
DT  Al Woods

LSU has more players invited to the NFL Combine than any other team in the SEC. 


With Justin Hunter's de-commitment on Tuesday, LSU is suddenly left with zero receiver commitments for the Class of 2010.   In my opinion, LSU needs at least three receivers in this class, and while Hunter is a very special prospect, there are still some very quality receivers out there.  Hunter is now committed to Tennessee. 

The status of defensive tackle Cassius Marsh is still up in the air, but LSU still has a chance of landing him.  The odds are that the hometown team (UCLA) will win out, but LSU isn't going down without a fight on this one. 

Les Miles and assistant Frank Wilson took a visit to Thibodaux to visit receiver Trovon Reed.  Reed is an Auburn commitment, and he seems very solid to Auburn.  LSU is trying to give Reed something to think about, and Reed is taking an official visit to Baton Rouge this weekend.  I still think it's a long shot for LSU to flip Reed, but the door isn't completely shut. 

Both Shreveport athlete Jarrett Fobbs and Belle Chase receiver James Wright are taking their official visit to LSU this weekend.   I believe that LSU is in very good shape with both guys and we could see one or both commit to LSU over the weekend or shortly after. 

Florida receiver Kadron Boone is visiting LSU on January 29.  LSU has a good chance at Boone, and I think LSU will be trying hard to get a good feel for Wright, Fobbs, and Reed prior to Boone's visit.

Dallas area quarterback Javia Hall is also visiting LSU on January 29.  Hall is a new name among LSU recruiting circles.  He is 6'2" 190 pounds and is currently committed to North Texas.   Hall is very athletic and it's unclear as to whether LSU is interested in him as a quarterback or as an athlete.  He could be a fall back option in the case that things don't go as desired with James Wright and Jarrett Fobbs. 

Additionally, many of LSU's commitments are visiting this weekend and they'll be doing their part to sway the three receivers that LSU is chasing. 

FOOTBALL reported late Wednesday night that defensive lineman Akiem Hicks is no longer part of the LSU Football program. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Recruiting Notes -- LSU loses two


LSU did not have a real good day on the recruiting front on Tuesday. 

Virginia wide receiver Justin Hunter has "de-committed" from LSU and is now considering several schools including Tennessee and Virginia.  In my opinion, Hunter was LSU's best prospect on the commitment list and losing him is a big, big loss.  After signing just one wide receiver last year, LSU now has zero receiver commitments for the Class of 2010.  That's not good.  Reportedly, some LSU coaches were heading to Virginia tonight to try and salvage the situation but it doesn't sound good. 

Also, California defensive tackle Cassius Marsh is having second thoughts about his commitment to LSU.  He's apparently thinking things over and strongly considering LSU.  The distance from home seems to be the biggest factor.  Marsh recently enjoyed a great week at the US Army All-American game and has seen his rankings with the recruiting services sky rocket as a result.  In a year when LSU needs defensive tackles, LSU would be left with just one if Marsh leaves. 

More to come...

LSU Football 2009 Season In Review


What in the heck happened this year? I've given it my best shot to objectively look at the 2009 LSU Football season in efforts to figure out exactly why the team, and especially the offense, looked so bad in most games. Many are filling up the message boards and call-in shows with angry demands that Les Miles and Gary Crowton hit the road. While the passion is good to see, it doesn't answer the questions that need to be answered.

Is it the coaching or is it the talent? LSU has consistently hauled in recruiting classes ranked in the Top 12 nationally, so it can't be the talent, can it? While coaching shoulders much of the blame (more on that later), I firmly believe LSU is indeed lacking talent in certain areas.

With stars like Brandon Lafell, Charles Scott, Richard Dickson, Terrance Toliver, Trindon Holliday and Keiland Williams and more potential stars such as Russell Shepard and Reuben Randle, how in the heck can an offense like that can be ranked 112th in the nation? It's a valid question and one that I asked many times throughout this season...usually at a high volume. However, all of the players I listed above have one thing in common. None of them are linemen.

A team can have all the talented play makers in the world, but they need a good line to make holes for the runners and to give the quarterback time to throw. Well, LSU has talented linemen, right?  Since the guys from the 2005 class thru 2007 class should have made up the upperclassmen during the 2009 season, let's take a look at the guys they signed on the offensive line in those years:

Ciron Black - All-American plagued by knee problems causing him to underachieve in 2009
Lyle Hitt - Converted defensive tackle. Below average SEC lineman.

Matt Allen - left team, currently a starter at Texas A&M
Phil Loadholt - never enrolled at LSU, was All-American at Oklahoma
Steven Singleton - left team
Mark Snyder - career over due to injuries
Zhamal Thomas - kicked off team due to disciplinary issues

Jarvis Jones - kicked off team due to disciplinary issues
Ernest McCoy - left LSU's team
T-Bob Hebert - LSU's starting center
Josh Dworaczyk - LSU's starting left guard
Will Blackwell - signed as DT, now backup guard
Joseph Barksdale - signed as DT, now starting right tackle

Look at all the attrition among the offensive linemen during those years. A significant amount of players left the program for various reasons, and LSU plugged in many of the gaps with defensive linemen. Only three players originally signed as offensive linemen from those classes remain on the team (Black, Hebert, Dworacyzk) and all three started in 2009. It's easy to conclude that the abnormally high amount of attrition has taken its toll on LSU's offensive line, adversely affecting the performance on the field.

Consequently, the attrition on the offensive line has affected the defensive line since LSU has moved so many players from defense to offense. LSU is known for having very talented defensive lines recently. Guys like Marcus Spears, Chad Lavalais, and Glenn Dorsey personify LSU Football this decade. But is LSU's defensive line currently at that high level?  Let's do the same drill for defensive linemen.

Ricky Jean Francois - left early for NFL
Lyle Hitt - moved to OL
Rahim Alem - signed as LB, starting DE in 2009

Al Woods - started in 2009
Lezarious Levingston - started in 2009
Charles Deas - never qualified academically

Kentravis Aubrey - left LSU's program due to injury
Will Blackwell - moved to OL
Joseph Barksdale - moved to OL
Sidell Corley - left LSU's program
Drake Nevis - part-time starter in 2009

Once again, we see only a small number of players remaining from these classes, and LSU is left with very few upperclassmen.   

To conclude that exercise, it's certainly reasonable to deduce that LSU's talent along both lines in 2009 was simply not what we've become accustomed to this decade.  It's just not there.  And with so many football experts claiming that "everything starts up front" or "the game is won in the trenches", it's no wonder that LSU struggled this season.  So when your radio or computer lights up with angry fans claiming LSU is wasting "all this talent" or that LSU is one of the "most talented teams in the nation," you should know that for now, that talent is for the most part limited to the skill positions. 

While that helps explain why LSU struggled in 2009, it's only part of the problem.  The coaching staff let down the players and the fans this season.  If one statistic could tell the story of LSU's season, it would be this:  LSU averaged 59 offensive plays this season while their opponents averaged 70.  In fact, LSU ran fewer offensive plays per game than any other team in college football.  When you look at some of LSU's worst performances of the year, this gets amplified even more.   Here is the count of offensive plays in some games this year:

Washington - 83
LSU - 48

Mississippi State - 86
LSU - 59

Florida - 64
LSU - 47

Alabama - 72
LSU - 56

LA Tech - 84
LSU - 52

Arkansas - 74
LSU - 63

Needless to say, it's really tough to win games when the other team runs 10, 20 or in the case of Washington and LA Tech, 30 more plays than you.  LSU had a deadly combination of an offense that could not string drives together and a defense that played a "bend but don't break" style which allowed opponents to keep the ball for long periods of time. 

Talking about defense first, I do believe that John Chavis did a good job this season.  The primary goal of any defense is obviously to prevent the opponent from scoring.  LSU ranked third in the SEC in scoring defense and allowed just 19 touchdowns all season.  Compared to 32 touchdowns in 2008, that's quite an improvement.  The style of the defense was to play very safe and prevent big plays.  While effective in the long run, the soft defense allowed opponents to hold onto the ball and move the chains.  It also allowed the opponent to convert a maddening number of 3rd downs.  When an opponent is in a 3rd and long situation, most defenses see an opportunity to attack the quarterback and try to make a play to force a punt.  Chavis; however, stays true to his philosophy of playing soft and preventing big plays.  While LSU's defense was ranked 27th in the nation, allowing the opposition to keep the ball for so long limited the opportunities for an already struggling offense. 
If I'm being honest, I can only say that the offensive coaching staff did a very poor job in 2009.   First and most importantly, Gary Crowton poorly designed this offense and he failed to take advantage of his team's strengths.  Starting up front, left guard Josh Dworacyzk weighs 280 pounds.  T-Bob Hebert is one of the lightest centers in the league and Lyle Hitt is a very light offensive guard at 290 pounds. Thus, the interior of LSU's offensive line was very light by SEC standards.   Dworacyzk replaced Herman Johnson from 2008 who weighed 370 pounds.  That's a 90 pound difference.  So while the make-up of the interior line changed significantly from 2008, LSU seemed to keep the same play book by consistently forcing the running game up the middle.  LSU's line failed to make holes and the offense was faced with a ton of 2nd and 10s and 3rd and 7s this year as a result.  With a young quarterback, that's a recipe for a lot of short drives that end in punts.  LSU needed to focus their offense on the perimeter to take advantage of their speed.  Despite being light, LSU's linemen are athletic and perhaps they would have been more productive by pulling and getting out in front of some running plays to the outside. 

What's worse is that week to week, the play calling did not improve, and there's no real explanation for some of the things that took place.  LSU continued to try to run an option play that looked ugly at its best.  Crowton also failed to involve Russell Shepard, who may have been the best big play threat on the team.  They failed to make personnel changes when some were badly needed.   The substitutions in between plays were disorganized.  Worst of all, the communication of play calls to the quarterback was miserable which resulted in wasted time outs and delay of game penalties.  In short, the offense was a complete and total mess and it didn't improve at all between Week 1 and Week 14. 

How did we get here with the offense?  In Gary Crowton's first season, LSU set school records on offense en route to a national championship.  In two short years, the offense has regressed into a national disgrace.  Sure, the talent on the offensive line is not what we're used to but it's also not THAT bad.  And the talent along the line has nothing to do with the poor play calling, lack of creativity, and complete disorganization.  Unfortunately, this is nothing new for Gary Crowton.  Let's take a quick look back at his career: 

Gary Crowton was BYU's head coach from 2001 through 2004:
- In Crowton's first season, BYU led the nation in total offense and averaged 46.77 points per game. 
- In Year #2, BYU ranked #50 in total offense and averaged 22.67 points per game
- In Year #3, they fell down to #102 nationally with just 16.33 points per game. 
- In Year #4, they improved a bit but still struggled averaging 24.27 points per game

Crowton was fired and then became Oregon's offensive coordinator for two seasons:
-  In 2005, Oregon ranked 18th nationally and averaged 37.64 points per game
-  In 2006, Oregon fell to averaging 29.46 points per game

As you know, Crowton has been LSU's offensive coordinator since 2007
-  In 2007, LSU ranked 26th nationally in total offense and averaged 38.64 points per game
-  In 2008, LSU's offense regressed to 55th nationally averaging 30.02 points per game
-  In 2009, LSU dropped all the way to 112th nationally and averaged just 24.85 points per game

So what does this tells us?  It shows a disturbing trend in Crowton's career.  He has shown an ability to take over a new job and have great success.  But he has not been able to sustain that success.  The reasons for this are not clear.  Do defensive coordinators around the conference figure out a way to stop his offense after seeing it once?   Maybe.  I really don't know.  But I do know the pattern is not good. 

I've talked a lot about Gary Crowton, but the fact is that the head coach is ultimately responsible for the product on the field.  Les Miles makes $3.7 million per year, and his job is the one on the line.  If he chooses to retain Gary Crowton for 2010, which is apparently the case, then it may ultimately cost him his job.

Miles also threw a dump truck of jet fuel onto the fire of criticism regarding him being a poor clock manager.  The final minutes of the Ole Miss and Penn State game proved, without a doubt, that the criticism was valid.  Clock management is a weakness of Les Miles, and it's something that fans will have to get used to as long as he's coaching at LSU. 

Things were not all bad this year despite the negativity amongst LSU supporters.  We saw a ton of improvement among the linebackers in 2009, most notably Kelvin Shephard who is returning in 2010.  We saw the emergence of an All-American cornerback in Patrick Peterson.  He needs to play a bit more disciplined at times, but he'll be a difference maker next season.  We saw Terrance Toliver step up into a top notch SEC wide receiver, and he'll carry on the tradition of big-time receivers at LSU next year. 

To sum up, LSU had less than stellar talent along both lines, an offensive coordinator who is falling right in line with the pattern he's established throughout his career, a head coach who failed to function in critical situations, and a defense that let opposing offenses hold onto the ball for maddening amounts of time.  The results were that LSU played some pretty ugly and frustrating football but managed to finish third in the SEC. 

My post season awards:

Offensive Player Of The Year - WR Brandon Lafell
Defensive Player Of The Year - LB Harry Coleman
Most Improved Player - LB Kelvin Shephard
Best Moment - Charles Scott game winning TD run against UGA
Worst Moment - Last 1:19 of Ole Miss game
Best Individual Play - Chad Jones 93 yard punt return against Mississippi State
Best Individual Play By Opponent - Julio Jones 73 yard TD reception for winning score in 4th qtr

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kiffin Leaves Tennessee for USC; Impact on LSU Recruiting Class?


It was reported by several news outlets on Tuesday evening that Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin is leaving to become the head coach at USC.   Kiffin will immediately go to work trying to reassure USC commitments who have been a little uneasy over the last few days after it was reported that Pete Carroll was heading to the NFL.

More importantly to SEC fans, this leaves Tennessee without a head coach just a few weeks before national signing day.   The next week will be interesting as they scramble to find a new leader for their program.  The only guy that comes to mind with ties to the Tennessee program is David Cutcliffe, a former Vols' offensive coordinator who is now the head coach at Duke.  A few other candidates have started to emerge as a replacement.  One report on Wednesday had Mike Leaach and Air Force's Troy Calhoun as the leading candidates.  Many other reports claim that Tennessee offered the job toTexas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp but conflicting reports from Austin state that he turned down the job.   Boise State's Chris Peterson has also come up as a possibility. 
This shakeup for the Vols will certainly impact their recruiting class, which was shaping up to be a good one.  Other SEC coaches are not going to cut the Vols any slack, and it will be open season on all of the Vols' verbal commitments.  


LSU could stand to benefit from the coaching change on Rocky Top.  Remember that one of Tennessee's top recruiters for most of this recruiting season is now on LSU's staff....talking about Frank Wilson.  A lot of the Vols' commitments have a relationship built with Coach Wilson and will listen to him.  

So who are the possibilities?  Here are some names of Tennessee commitments to keep an eye on:

DE Jacques Smith - Smith is a defensive end prospect from Tennessee and is the state's top prospect.  He's 6'3" 225 pounds and highly thought of by most recruiting services.  Rivals rates him as the #67 player in the nation while rates him as a 5-star recruit.  One report Tuesday night said that Smith would de-commit from the Vols and commit to LSU.  This came as news to everyone because he wasn't ever on LSU's radar as far as recruiting goes.  We'll see if anything develops but there seems to be some smoke here. 

K Michael Palardy - Palardy is one of the nation's top kicker prospects.  He narrowed his choices down to LSU and Tennessee before picking the Vols.  Could the coaching change steer him to LSU?   LSU wanted to sign a kicker in this class but still doesn't have one committed. 

WR Markeith Anbles - Ambles is a reciever prospect from Georgia who impressed many at last week's US Army All-American Game.  He's rumored to have some discipline issues.  But he's also rumored to have expressed some interest in LSU recently.  We'll see if the coaching shake up has him looking our way. 

DE Delvin Jones - Jones is a highly rated DE prospect from Miami that was considering LSU before he committed to Tennessee. 

Getting away from the Tennessee stuff, here is some other recruiting news:

Florida wide receiver Kadron Boone is visiting LSU this weekend.  Boone is currently a Texas Tech commitment but is looking around after their coaching change.  Being from Florida, Boone is very familiar with LSU wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales.  Boone is 6'1" 190 pounds and has pretty impressive highlight films.  He is rated 4 stars by both Rivals and Scout.  It sounds like LSU has a very legitimate chance here. 

Belle Chase wide receiver James Wright was down to LSU, Texas Tech, and Alabama.  Texas Tech changed coaches and Alabama doesn't appear to have room for Wright.  So LSU is in a good place.  However, TCU is making a late push and is one to watch. 

South Carolina linebacker Justin Parker was scheduled to visit LSU this weekend.  However, his visit is now up in the air and he may not visit LSU at all.  In my opinion, LSU needs another linebacker in this class and Parker represents the last decent chance at signing one.  We'll see what happens, but LSU's chances with Parker may be slipping away. 

California safety Dietrich Riley is talking about taking a visit to LSU on January 23. 

We haven't done this in a while so here is a breakout of LSU's Class of 2010 with current commitments and remaining targets.  Commitments are in bold. 

Zach Lee TX

Spencer Ware  OH
Jahkari Gore  FL
Alfred Blue  LA
Lache Seastrunk  TX

Justin Hunter  VA
James Wright  LA
Jarrett Fobbs  LA
Trovon Reed  LA
Kadron Boone  FL

Travis Dickson  MS
Nick Jacobs LA

Elliott Porter  LA
Evan Washington  TX
Cameron Fordham  GA
Damien Robinson  MS

Dexter Blackmon  AL
Cassius Marsh  CA

Jordan Allen  LA
Justin Maclin  TN
Houston Bates  LA
J.R. Ferguson  VA
Geneo Grissom  KS
Jacques Smith  TN
Delvin Jones  TN

DJ Welter  LA
Luke Muncie  TX
Justin Parker  SC

Tyrann Mathieu  LA
Ronnie Vinson  LA

Sam Gibson  AL
Eric Reid  LA
Dietrich Riley  CA

Tharold Simon  LA  (DB or WR)

Brad Wing  LA

Michael Palardy  FL


Terrance Magee of Franklinton high school committed to LSU on Wednesday. Magee makes LSU's third running back for the Class of 2011 joining fellow Louisiana players Kenny Hilliard and Jeremy Hill. Magee makes LSU's seventh commitment for this class.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Class of 2011 Recruiting Update; 2010 Commitment



Junior College defensive end Ken Adams committed to LSU on Friday.  Adams will be a mid-term graduate and will be at LSU this spring.  He has already signed his paperwork.  Adams is 6'5" 240 pounds and is a former tight-end.  His addition may allow LSU to move defensive ends Michael Brockers and Pep Levingston inside to defensive tackle.  That is just speculation by me, but it will be something to look for this spring. 


In the past, I have refrained from getting into the recruitment of juniors until after National Signing Day.  But I simply can't fail to mention the positive momentum that LSU has going for the Class of 2011.   While the coaching staff is putting the finishing touches on the Class of 2010 (Signing Day is February 3), they're off to a blazing early start for 2011. 

I've touched on it some in the past, but the state of Louisiana is loaded with top talent for the Class of 2011.  It may be the state's most talented class since 2001 which saw stars such as Michael Clayton, Marquise Hill, Marcus Spears, Andrew Whitworth, and Rudy Niswanger.  LSU has already issued 12 offers to players from the state of Louisiana and on Saturday, they invited them all to campus for a small junior day.   Many of the players were able to attend, and the results were very good for LSU. 

The biggest news of the day came when Lutcher wide receiver Jarvis Landry gave his verbal commitment to LSU.  Landry is the state's top receiver prospect and will be ranked as one of the top prospects in the entire nation.  He doesn't have great size at just 5'11" 185 pounds, and he doesn't have great speed.   But he reminds many of Josh Reed by always getting open and making plays.   At both Tennessee's and LSU's camps over the summer, he outperformed all of the receivers there despite being a year younger.  Here are some highlights of Landry:

Landry makes LSU's sixth commitment for the Class of 2011.  DT Anthony Johnson, OL La'El Collins, RB Kenny Hilliard, and RB Jeremy Hill were the other commitments in attendance on Saturday.  OL Corey White was the only commitment who could not attend. 

So who else was there? 

Franklinton athlete Terrance Magee was there, and he sounds like he's on the verge of joining LSU's class.  Magee is being recruited as a running back, and he's awfully good.  Magee is smaller in stature than Kenny Hilliard of Jeremy Hill at 5'9" 190 pounds, but he's got a very strong lower body and reminds some of Dalton Hilliard or Kevin Faulk. 

South Plaquemines speedster Bradley Sylve attended and judging from his comments after the visit, LSU is way out in front.  Sylve projects as a receiver in college and he's seriously fast.  We're talking Trindon Holliday fast.  Also a track star, he has run a 10.35 in the 100 meters.  He reminds a lot of folks of Skyler Green.  He actually has better size than either Holliday or Green at 5'11" 175 pounds. 

Breaux Bridge defensive tackle Quentin Thomas was also there.  Thomas is a very versatile defensive lineman.  He is a very athletic 6'4" 265 pounds and carries his weight very well.  He looks to have the frame to add more weight without losing any athleticism.  Thomas maintains that he wants to wait before making his decision, but he also made it clear that LSU is his big leader. 

Lastly, Newman athlete Odell Beckham Jr. attended the Junior Day.  Beckham is a receiver / defensive back who just recently received his LSU offer.  Beckham admitted that he thought about committing to LSU on the visit so LSU is obviously in a good place here. 

LSU also has in-state offers to receiver Alonzo Lewis from St. James and offensive lineman Greg Robinson from Thibodaux.  Both guys were at the US Army All-American junior combine in San Antonio and therefore could not attend.   Lewis is a bigger receiver at 6'2" 190 pounds.  Robinson earned rave reviews at the junior combine and made a statement to be a National Top 100 type of prospect next year. 

Shreveport defensive end Jermauria Rasco holds an LSU offer but was unable to attend. 

I spent a good part of the weekend watching more film of these juniors, and I feel comfortable ranking the Top 12 players at this point.  This is certainly subject to change and it usually does after the summer camp circuit where a few guys make names for themselves.  Names in bold are ones that have LSU offers. 

1. Anthony "Freak" Johnson DT O.Perry Walker HS (LSU Commitment)
2. La'El Collins OT Redemptorist HS (LSU Commitment)
3. Jarvis Landry WR Lutcher HS  (LSU Commitment)
4. Jermauria Rasco DE Evangel HS
5. Kenny Hilliard RB Patterson HS (LSU Commitment)
6. Greg Robinson OL Thibodaux HS
7. Terrance Magee Magee RB  Franklinton HS
8. Bradley Sylve WR  South Plaquemines HS
9.  Alonzo Lewis WR St. James HS
10.  Jeremy Hill RB Redemporist HS (LSU Commitment)
11.  Chuck Hunter DT West Monroe HS
12.  Corey White OL Capitol HS (LSU Commitment)
Here are a list of other guys that will be in the picture next year:
WR Odell Beckham Jr.  Newman HS
ATH Ryan Byrd St. Helena Central HS (WR or S)
WR Rod Davis  Many HS
QB Brian Ensminger Hahnville HS
QB Zach Oliver  Catholic HS
QB Stevie Douglas
ATH Daniel Sams Salmen HS (probably a S)
OL Chester Hebert  Shaw HS
WR Leavander Liggins

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Gary Crowton Rumors; Recruiting News


Coaching Rumors

Thursday saw a ton of rumors flying around regarding the immediate future of offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.  The rumors have been out there all week that Crowton may not be back in 2010 but they really heated up Thursday.   Many sources, some very credible, reported that Crowton would not return in 2010.  One published report had Crowton returning to the NFL to become the Chicago Bears' quarterbacks coach.  But as Thursday was winding down, the Baton Rouge Advocate ran an article with quotes from Crowton claiming that he'll be back next season.  We'll have to see what happens. 

Included in the rumors were some rumored replacements, one of which came from several places.  Steve Logan, currently the running backs coach for the Tampa Bay Bucs, has surfaced as someone who may be interested in coming to LSU if the position opens up.   Logan was the head coach of East Carolina from 1992 - 2002.  He was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Boston College in 2007 and 2008 where he coached Matt Ryan.  He also has some ties to LSU's staff.  At Boston College, he coached with Dan Yanowsky who is LSU's tight-ends coach.  He was also the running backs coach at Colorado when Les Miles was the offensive line coach there. 


LSU doesn't have much room in the Class of 2010, but they continue to try and finish strong.

Junior College defensive end Ken Adams is very much in play for LSU.  Adams is originally from Alabama but was a Tennessee commitment earlier in the season.  It makes sense to me that LSU would look at a junior college defensive end for some immediate help, especially if Pep Levingston and Michael Brockers move inside to defensive tackle like I suspect they might.  LSU coaches visited Adams this week, and he's expected to make a decision soon between LSU and Auburn.  Adams is 6'5" 240 pounds and as a former tight-end, he's a very good athlete.  He'd be a great pick-up for LSU. 

Thibodaux athlete Trovon Reed, who is committed to Auburn, will take an official visit to LSU on January 23rd.  That's significant for a couple of reasons.  First, Reed is scheduled to visit Auburn on January 16th, so LSU will get the last crack at recruiting Reed.  Also, LSU is hosting most of their commitments and major targets for a big recruiting weekend on the 23rd.  New assistants Frank Wilson and Billy Gonzales have done a good job recruiting Reed. 

The US Army All-American Game is this weekend, and some of LSU's commitments and targets are playing in the game.  Commitments Spencer Ware (RB), Cassius Marsh (DT), and Eric Reid (S) are all playing in the game.  All three guys have drawn rave reviews at practice, especially Ware and Marsh.  Ware was named the starting running back for the East team.  Marsh has been one of the more impressive players on the West defense and could be another Kyle Williams type of bulldog at defensive tackle at LSU.   Unfortunately, some rumors sprung up about Marsh wavering on his commitment to LSU and considering UCLA.  Marsh squashed those rumors and said he was solid to LSU, but the rumors probably came from somewhere.  All three LSU commitments are starting. 

Also playing in the game is defensive end J.R. Ferguson who is strongly considering LSU.  Ferguson is very highly rated and is a guy who could play either strongside defensive end or defensive tackle in college. 

I wasn't able to mention it, but the Under Armor All-American game was last weekend and LSU wide receiver commitment Justin Hunter impressed the hell out of everyone there all week long in practice.  I wouldn't be surprised to see him shoot up the rankings.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bowl Game Thoughts


I've been reluctant to sit down and write something about the bowl game because I simply haven't felt like doing it.  LSU had a month to correct their mistakes from the regular season and to improve on their weaknesses.  They did neither.   Instead, we saw the same abysmal offense.  We again saw the defense fail to get off the field in numerous 3rd and long situations.  We saw the team's most electric playmaker stay on the bench...again.  We saw the starting quarterback make many of the same mistakes he's made all year.  We saw the same horrific clock management in crunch time.  We even added some new things such as receivers, linebackers, and defensive backs dropping balls left and right. 

First of all, the field and game conditions were horrible.  I've never seen a field as bad as the one for the Capital One Bowl.  The wet ball certainly contributed to some of the drops we saw on New Year's Day, but a lack of concentration was also evident.  Had LSU caught the balls that were right in their hands, the outcome of the game would have likely been much different.  Harry Coleman dropped an easy interception that would have likely been returned for a touchdown.  Danny McCray dropped an interception that actually hit him in his facemask.  Reuben Randle dropped a bobble off a long pass that looked like a certain touchdown.  Terrance Toliver dropped a pass right in his hands that was intercepted and resulted in a Penn State field goal.  Toliver also dropped about four other passes.  Stevan Ridley fumbled the ball which resulted in a Penn State field goal.  That's a significant number of plays that LSU failed to make. 

Even with the poor game plan and the numerous drops, LSU still found a way to take the lead in the fourth quarter.  They even had a chance to win the game at the end.  The Tigers found themselves trailing by two points at Penn State's 49 yard line, needing only about 20 more yards to set up a potential game winning field goal attempt.  With no timeouts and under a minute to go, most teams look to throw to the sidelines in order to stop the clock.  Or, they utilize the middle of the field but absolutely make sure that the play result in an incompletion or a first down, thus stopping the clock.  Gary Crowton did neither.  He made his worst play call of the entire season....and that's saying something.  He called a middle screen to Brandon Lafell.  The probability that this play results in a tackle before gaining ten yards is very high.  And that's exactly what happened.  Precious seconds ticked off the clock while LSU tried to regroup and line up for the next play.  Then, senior Lyle Hitt was flagged for a personal foul for pulling a Penn State defender off the pile.   And that was it.  Game over. 

I can't sugar coat this game.  It was poorly planned and poorly executed.  Unfortunately with this coaching staff, games like this are becoming more and more common.  I have much more to say regarding the current state of the program and the coaching staff.  But those words will come in later updates. 

Some final thoughts:

1) Being positive, Chad Jones played his best game in an LSU uniform.  He was all over the place and was the best player on the field.  If the NFL or MLB doesn't scoop him up, he'll be a pre-season All-SEC pick next year and a potential All-American. 

2)  With a month to prepare and not putting the ball in Russell Shepard's hands one time was the worst personnel decision at LSU since Gerry Dinardo had Craig Nall playing wide receiver with Josh Reed sitting on the bench.  It was stupid, and I don't have any explanation for it. 

3) Brandon Lafell finished his career as a Tiger with five catches for 87 yards and one touchdown.  Lafell will go down as one of the best Tiger receivers of all time.  He wasn't overly flashy but he was very productive for three years, and he'll make some NFL team very happy.  He'll certainly be missed. 


Saturday Night Slant - LSU Sports & Recruiting