Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring Practice Preview: Defensive Backs; New Tight-Ends Coach

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FOOTBALL

LSU hired Steve Ensminger to coach tight-ends.  Ensminger is a former LSU quarterback and was a long time assistant at Auburn under former coach Tommy Tuberville.  He has coached tight-ends, quarterbacks, and has been an offensive coordinator at Clemson and Texas A&M. 

While I was hopeful for a young, energetic coach who could hit the recruiting trail hard, I will take a wait and see approach with Ensminger.  He has a lot of experience coaching offense in the SEC, and he has experience helping quarterbacks.  If he can help Jordan Jefferson take the next step, then it will be tough to criticize the hire. 


SPRING PRACTICE PREVIEW:  DBs

Defensive backs coach Ron Cooper made great strides in his first season at LSU in 2009.  By and large, the secondary played very well, and they were much improved over the 2008 group.  LSU must replace free safety Chad Jones and cornerback Chris Hawkins.  While the cornerback positions seem relatively locked down, the safety positions are up for grabs. 

At one cornerback will be junior All-American Patrick Peterson (pictured).  Peterson is the ultimate NFL cornerback, and he has everything you look for.  Peterson seems to have a knack for making big plays as evidenced by his interception return for a touchdown against Mississippi State, his blocked field goal return for a touchdown against Ole Miss, and his interception that got stolen by the refs in Tuscaloosa.  Peterson needs to be a bit more disciplined though.  He was burned a few times in 2009 by gambling while looking for the big play or by being caught peeking into the backfield.  LSU needs an All-American effort from Peterson in 2010. 

While most thought that senior Jai Eugene would start at the other corner spot, he has apparently been moved to safety.  The reason Eugene made that move is due to the impressive play of freshman Morris Claiborne.  Claiborne impressed at fall camp last year and did so again during the bowl practices.  Claiborne played special teams in 2009 and a little mop up duty at cornerback.  We'll have to watch how he handles being the starter. 

The big thing to watch at cornerback is how the backups look because with Eugene at safety, LSU has very little depth.  The primary backups will be junior Ron Brooks and redshirt sophomore Ryan St. Julien.  Brooks has a bit more experience, and he has played both cornerback and safety, in addition to special teams.  Brooks has really excelled whenever he has been on the field.  St. Julien primarily played special teams in his first season of action.  He has good size, listed at 6'1" 180 pounds and as a former track star in high school, he's very athletic.  These two will be looking to make a statement that they should see the field. 

Reportedly, redshirt freshman Drayton Calhoun has moved back to defense and will work out at cornerback this spring.  Calhoun has plenty of speed, and is 6'0".  Once he acclimates to the position, the sky is the limit.  We'll hope to see some progressoin from him this spring. 

Walk-on Daniel Graff will continue to be a special teams standout while trying to earn some playing time on defense. 

In the fall, true freshmen Tryann Mathieu and Ronnie Vinson will join the mix at cornerback. 

Safety is a much bigger question mark. 

Junior Brandon Taylor started most of 2009 at strong safety, and he played fairly well.  Taylor finished the season with 41 tackles, one tackle for loss, and two interceptions.  For the most part, he tackled well.  I expect him to be even better in 2010 with a year of experience under his belt.  He has to be considered a front runner for one of the starting safety positions. 

With senior Jai Eugene (pictured) moving over from cornerback, he should be in the mix for playing time.  He's on the small side for a safety at 5'11" 180 pounds.  As far as cornerbacks go, Eugene was a sure tackler and was pretty physical.  He may be a pretty good fit at safety.  What I'm looking to see is whether Eugene is at safety to stay, whether he's doing some training for a nickel back position, or whether he's just doing some cross training. 

The guy I'll really have my eye on is sophomore safety Craig Loston.  Loston came to LSU as the top rated safety in the nation out of high school, but a hand injury shortened his freshman season.  He should be ready to go, and we'll have to see if he's ready to play a big role.  Loston is 6'2" and around 200 pounds. 

Junior Karnell Hatcher is another guy who has a lot of experience that will be trying to earn a starting position.  Hatcher has great size at 6'2" 205 pounds and is a very physical player.  He struggles a bit in coverage but is outstanding near the line of scrimmage. 

Junior Derrick Bryant has been a good special teams player for his first two seasons, and he'll try to get into the mix at safety as well.  Bryant has good range and is probably a better fit for free safety.  He started his career at cornerback, and he may practice at both positions. 

In the fall, true freshmen Sam Gibson, Eric Reid, and Tharold Simon will join the fold. 

Depth Chart:
CB
Peterson (Jr)
Claiborne (So)
Brooks (Jr)
St. Julien (Fr)
Graff (Sr)
Vinson (Fr)
Mathieu (Fr)

S
Taylor (Jr)
Hatcher (Jr)
Loston (So)
Eugene (Sr)
Bryant (Jr)
Reid (Fr)
Gibson (Fr)
Simon (Fr)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spring Practice Preview: Linebackers; Some Football and Baseball Notes

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FOOTBALL

Les Miles held a press conference on Wednesday in preparation for spring practice, which starts Friday.  While I've been speculating in my spring practice previews, Miles shed some light on some position changes that will take place this spring. 

In a very interesting move, Miles indicated that senior Jai Eugene would be working out at safety.  First and foremost, this is a testament to what the staff thinks about Morris Claiborne at cornerback.  It will be interesting to see if Eugene is just doing some cross training, whether he's actually practicing at nickel back, or whether he will be at safety to stay. 

As expected, former defensive end Chase Clement, will be working at tight-end. 

Former safety Rocky Duplessis will be working as a linebacker. 

Defensive linemen Pep Levingston and Michael Brockers will be working at defensive tackle. 

Drayton Calhoun will be giving cornerback another try.  He practiced last spring at cornerback before working at running back last fall. 

I've also heard that tight-end Deangelo Peterson may be moving back to wide reciever, which would be a huge mistake in my opinion.   We'll see where he practices once spring gets going. 

BASEBALL

LSU defeated McNeese State 2-1 on Wednesday afternoon.  Daniel Bradshaw started for LSU and pitched much better than he did over the weekend.  He only allowed two hits in three innings of work.  Lefty Chris Matulis then came in and pitched five scoreless innings before giving way to Matty Ott, who notched his second save of the year.  It's especially nice to see Matulis throwing well because I'm guessing the staff would love to use him to start mid-week games this year. 

Micah Gibbs broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning with a solo home-run, his second on the season. 
SPRING PRACTICE PREVIEW:  LBs

The addition of John Chavis to LSU's coaching staff did wonders for LSU's linebackers in 2009.  Players that underachieved in 2008 reached their full potential last year.  The player who improved the most was Kelvin Shephard, who returns as the leader of the group in 2010.  Chavis had the luxury of working with three seniors and one junior last year.  That luxury is gone this year.  Even though Sheppard returns, the rest of the linebacking crew is very inexperienced.  A look at the depth chart below shows a ton of youth. 

As mentioned, senior Kelvin Sheppard returns to lead the linebackers and to serve as a leader for the entire team.  Sheppard had one of the best seasons for a linebacker in the SEC last year, and he should land on several pre-season All-SEC teams heading into 2010.  A year ago, Sheppard led the team in tackles with 110 and also recorded 8.5 tackles for loss, one sack, and one interception.  LSU absolutely needs him to be the rock in the middle of the defense again and to be honest, LSU will rely on Sheppard to make even more plays in 2010.  

Starting at one of the outside linebacker positions will likely be junior Ryan Baker, on the weak side replacing Perry Riley.  Baker has been a beast on special teams during his first two seasons on campus where he has also served as a reserve linebacker.  Baker's talent is evident.  He has great speed, and he hits with an attitude.  He's a bit on the small side at 6'0" and around 220 pounds.  I have little doubt that Baker will be able ot make some big plays behind the line of scrimmage.  But can he be consistent? 

John Chavis likes to have a very athletic linebacker playing on the strong side.  Last year, safety Harry Coleman moved into that role and had a fantastic season.  Another former safety, junior Stefoin Francois, seems to have the inside track on the strong side position at this point.  Francois has similar size as Coleman at 6'1" 210 pounds and similar skills.  I think he can really excel at this position, but the question is whether he's ready to be a full-time starter. 

While those three will likely enter spring as the starter, we will still see a whole lot of competition. 

Redshirt freshman Lamin Barrow reportedly turned quite a few heads during bowl practices.  He's developing nicely and will likely be Baker's back up on the weak side heading into spring. 

In the middle, look for redshirt freshman Kevin Minter to be the primary back up to Sheppard.  Minter has very good size at 6'1" 240 pounds.  He is a thumper and can mix it up with the big boys in the SEC.  Many have high hopes for Minter in the future, and it will be interesting to see how Minter plays this spring and in the fall in a back up role. 

Another redshirt freshman, Tahj Jones, will likely work at the strong side position behind Francois.  Jones came to LSU at only around 200 pounds but with lots of speed and athleticism.  I'm curious to see how he has filled out and whether he can compete physically as a linebacker in the SEC. 

Also competing at the strong side position will be a pair of converted safeties in redshirt freshmen Rocky Duplessis and Josh Johns.  Both guys have similar size and skills.  I've heard a little more noise about Johns looking good than Duplessis but I'm very anxious to see both this spring.  They are both very athletic and if they can fill out their frame, they could be play makers for the Tigers. 

Sophomore Kyle Prater will again try to make an impact this spring to earn playing time.  In his first two seasons on campus, Prater has yet to make any noise.  It will be interesting to see if he remains with the team next fall. 

In the fall, true freshmen Justin Maclin, Houston Bates, Luke Muncie, and D.J. Welter join the mix. 

Depth Chart:

WLB
Ryan Baker (Jr)
Lamin Barrow (Fr)
Kyle Prater (So)
Justin Maclin (Fr)
Luke Muncie (Fr)

MLB
Kelvin Sheppard (Sr)
Kevin Minter (Fr)
D.J. Welter (Fr)
Houston Bates (Fr)

SLB
Stefoin Francois (Jr)
Josh Johns (Fr)
Tahj Jones (Fr)
Rocky Duplessis (Fr)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spring Practice Preview: Defensive Line

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SPRING PRACTICE PREVIEW:  DL

Jarvis Green. Marcus Spears. Chad Lavalais. Marquise Hill. Kyle Williams. Claude Wroten. Glenn Dorsey. Tyson Jackson. The core of LSU’s success over the last 10 years was due to the outstanding players along the defensive line.  LSU won championships with great defenses, and those great defenses started up front. We haven’t seen the same caliber of defensive linemen over the last two seasons and not surprisingly, the team has not been as successful.


LSU has recruited well over the last three years, and they have a nice group of talented young players that will be looking to make their mark in 2010. Competition for playing time will be heated this spring.

Starting with the defensive tackles...

Senior Drake Nevis (pictured) returns as LSU’s most experienced player on the defensive line. Though he wasn’t a starter, Nevis was outstanding in 2009. He led all defensive linemen with 50 tackles, and he was the team leader with 11 tackles for loss. He also logged four sacks.  Nevis is explosive off the line of scrimmage and can frequently get into the backfield and disrupt plays.  Nevis could stand to be more consistent, especially against the run, but he's poised to have a big-time senior season.   He'll almost certainly start at one of the defensive tackle positions. 

Sophomore Josh Downs earned playing time as a true freshman in 2009, and he did fairly well.  Though undersized, Downs showed a great motor and an ability to rush the passer.  At around 275 pounds last year, he struggled with stopping the run.  I expect Downs will be a bit heavier this year in hopes to be an every down player.  He'll certainly be in the playing rotation, and he's a candidate to start alongside Nevis. 

Senior Pep Levingston started at defensive end in 2009 and performed adequately.  He will reportedly move inside to defensive tackle this season.  Levingston has played some defensive tackle for LSU in the past.  He mostly played inside as a reserve in 2008, and he played significantly in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against Georgia Tech.   As a defensive end, Levingston is a legitimate SEC player but as a defensive tackle, he could be a real play maker.   One thing to watch this spring is where Levingston lines up and how he progresses if he's at defensive tackle. 

Redshirt freshman Chris Davenport came to LSU last year as a five star recruit.  However, a knee injury during his senior season caused him to be behind on his conditioning when he arrived at LSU and he redshirted as a result.   Davenport is a massive space-eating type of defensive tackle than can occupy blockers and free up the linebackers to make plays.  He was listed at 6'4" 320 pounds last year, and he's very athletic for someone his size.  He'll be counted on to contribute in 2010, and it will be important to observe his progress this spring. 

Redshirt freshman Bennie Logan was widely considered one of the steals in the Class of 2009.  Originally recruited as a defensive end, Logan has grown and will reportedly move to tackle this spring.  His skill set is very similar to Pep Levingston as a guy that could play either end or tackle.  He'll be competing in efforts to earn some playing time in 2010. 

Now, on to the defensive ends...

Sophomore Lavar Edwards (pictured) played a good bit as a reserve in 2009, and he was awfully impressive.  With limited playing time, Edwards logged two and a half sacks and four and a half tackles for loss to go along with 23 tackles.  He has ideal size for a defensive end at 6'4" 265 pounds.  I think Edwards is a lock to start at defensive end, and I think he's poised for a bit of a breakout season.  He's my early favorite to be the surprise player of the year on defense and maybe on the whole team. 

Another sophomore, Chancey Aghayere, also played a good bit as a reserve last year.  He wasn't quite as impressive as Edwards, but he performed admirably for a young player.  Aghayere may not ever be among the SEC leaders in sacks, but he looks to be a very solid player.  He's squarely in the mix to compete for a starting position opposite Edwards. 

Competing with Aghayere will likely be redshirt freshman Mike Brockers.  Brockers is a big defensive end in the mold of Marquise Hill or Tyson Jackson.  Listed at 6'6" 285 pounds, Brockers carries his weight very well and is unusually nimble for such a big guy.  He really impressed the coaching staff last year, and he's expected to play a good bit in 2010.  There's some talk that Brockers could make the move inside to defensive tackle, so that's something to watch. 

Junior College transfer Ken Adams will jump into the mix in efforts to get on the field.  Adams was highly sought after by Auburn, Tennessee and others.  He has good size at 6'5" 250 pounds, and he'll be counted on to rush the passer.  It will be interesting to see how Adams stacks up during his first spring practice. 

Redshirt freshman Sam Montgomery brings something different to the table.  Montgomery has a ton of athleticism and he can really, really rush the passer.  Listed at 240 pounds on last year's roster, I'm curious to see if Montgomery has put on any weight.  240 is probably not big enough to be an every down defensive lineman in the SEC, but he's not too far off from being where he needs to be.  In my opinion, Montgomery has more potential than anyone else at his position on the team and I'm excited about his future. 

Similar to Montgomery, former linebacker Barkevious Mingo is a guy who needs to put on some weight.  Mingo came to LSU as a linebacker but has since been moved to defensive end, and he is a terror rushing off the edge.  He was much lighter than Montgomery, so he has a longer way to go before seeing the field.  He could see some time as a situational pass rusher in 2010. 

In the fall, defensive tackle J.C. Copeland as well as defensive ends Jordan Allen and Ego Ferguson will join the mix. 

Here's a shot at a depth chart:

Depth Chart:

DT
Nevis (Sr)
Downs (So)
Levingston (Jr)
Davenport (Fr)
Logan (Fr)
Copeland (Fr)

DE
Edwards (So)
Aghayere (So)
Brockers (Fr)
Adams (Jr)
Montgomery (Fr)
Mingo (Fr)
Ferguson (Fr)
Allen (Fr)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spring Practice Preview: Offensive Line

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SPRING PRACTICE PREVIEW:  OL

LSU's offensive struggles in 2009 can easily be traced back to the poor play of the offensive line.  More than any other position on the team, the big uglies have a lot to prove in 2010.  LSU must replace four year starter Ciron Black and three year starter Lyle Hitt.  While that's a lot of experience to replace, the honest truth is that both guys underachieved in a big way in 2009. 

It will be very interesting to see how the line shapes up when spring practice begins.  A lot of people have speculated as to who will play where, but there's nothing concrete at this point.  Here are the candidates for serious playing time:

Joseph Barksdale (pictured) has started at right tackle for LSU for two years now.  He was probably LSU's best offensive lineman in 2009.   With the left tackle position open, Barksdale is a candidate to make the move to the left side to protect the blind side of Jordan Jefferson.  But the coaches might leave Barksdale on the right side where he's more comfortable.  He's assured to start at one of the tackle spots, but it's just a question of which one.  Barksdale will likely compete for some All-SEC honors in 2010. 

Junior Josh Dworacyzk played left guard last season.  Dworacyzk has great feet and is built more like a tackle at 6'6" 285 pounds.  He has the quickness to handle the speedy defensive ends that are often seen in the SEC.  He's a candidate to move outside and play one of the tackle spots, but he could also stay put at left guard.  I expect that we'll see a heavier, stronger player by the time fall camp rolls around. 

Junior T-Bob Hebert won the starting center position last year after a battle in fall camp with P.J. Lonergan, who is now a sophomore.  Hebert struggled through his first season as a starter.  Hebert injured his knee in 2007 and was out of action for most of the offseason.  That limited his ability to hit the weights and work out his legs like an offensive lineman should.  That, along with his inexperience, probably contributed to his sub-standard play in 2009.   Lonergan received a good bit of playing time last year and excelled.  His performance last year has many speculating that he may beat out Hebert for the job this season.  One reason why Hebert won the job last year is his ability to read the defense at the line of scrimmage, so that's another factor to consider.  If Lonergan does not win the job at center, he's a strong candidate to win one of the positions at offensive guard. 

Sophomore Alex Hurst is a massive offensive guard who performed very well as a backup in 2008.  Hurst is 6'6" 320 pounds and presents a much bigger body than the two guards who played last year (Hitt and Dworacyzk).  I personally expect Hurst to be one of LSU's starting guards in 2010. 

Junior Will Blackwell is another player who logged some game experience as a backup guard last season, and he also played well in relief.  Most notably, he opened the hole which spring Russell Shepard on his long touchdown run against Auburn.  He's a very tough, very strong guy and will be in the mix to win a starting job at guard. 

Junior Greg Shaw is a backup offensive tackle who has impressed the coaches but has only seen mop up duty thus far in his career.  If Josh Dworacyzk remains at guard, then Shaw will be very much in the mix to start at one of the tackle positions.  At 6'5" 300 pounds, Shaw has a lean frame to play tackle. 

Redshirt freshman Chris Faulk is another guy who will be competing for a starting position, and he could compete at either tackle or guard.  Faulk was recruited as a tackle, but he could certainly play guard.  Early reports are that Faulk was impressive during his redshirt season, but he'll be competing against guys who have been in the program longer than him. 

The eight guys discussed above will be the main guys who compete for starting jobs and who will serve as primary backups.  A number of other younger guys will also be trying to make a name for themselves this spring. 

Sophomores Clay Spencer and Cordian Hagans will be competing at offensive guard along with redshirt freshmen Stavion Lowe and Josh Williford.  Lowe can play either guard or tackle while I've heard some real encouraging things about Williford. 

Sophomore Thomas Parsons moved from offensive line to help out at fullback last season.  For a guy who is 6'5" and nearly 300 pounds, Parsons moves awfully well.  It will be interesting to see if Parsons is still working at fullback this spring or whether he's back with the offensive line.   

Sophomore Matt Branch and true freshman Evan Washington will be competing at tackle. 

With so many positions up for grabs this spring, I'm not going to attempt a depth chart at this point.  We should have a pretty good idea of where guys will be playing after the first week of practice. 

RECRUITING

LSU offered St. Pauls high school defensive tackle Mickey Johnson a scholarship on Monday.  I've got Johnson ranked as the #2 defensive tackle and the #11 overall player in the state of Louisiana.  He would be a great addition to LSU's class.  He also has offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Tennessee.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Baseball Sweeps Opening Weekend; Football Notes

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BASEBALL

Despite some opening night jitters, the LSU Baseball team had a very impressive opening weekend.  The Tigers only managed four hits on Friday night but rapped out 10 hits on Sunday and a ridiculous 23 on Saturday.  In fact, LSU's 25 runs on Saturday was the most they have scored in a game since 1999.
The most impressive thing about the weekend is that LSU's starting pitchers gave up zero earned runs all weekend.  Joey Bourgeois was especially impressive on Sunday.  I know the opponent is not SEC caliber, but that's still a reason to get excited at this early point in the season.

FOOTBALL

LSU starts spring practice on Friday.  A couple of Tigers have changed jersey numbers. 

- Terrance Toliver will now wear #8
- Richard Murphy is now wearing #18, which was passe down to him from Richard Dickson
- New Tiger Ken Adams is wearing #94

Also as discussed in the tight-ends preview, Chase Clement is now listed as a tight-end on LSU's roster so he's apparently switched over from defensive end.

Spring Practive Preview: Tight-Ends

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PRING PRACTICE PREVIEW:  TEs

LSU will be looking to replace three year starter and LSU's all-time leading receiver for tight-ends in Richard Dickson.  Dickson was effective as both a receiver and a blocker, and he will certainly be missed.  Here's a look at the guys who will be in the mix this spring.

Junior Deangelo Peterson (pictured) is a very unique talent, and he's a guy that could be a major weapon in the receiving game.  A former wide receiver, Peterson has a ton of athleticism and he showed some of that last year in limited duty.  He had a nice game against Alabama with 40 yards and a touchdown.   He also scored a touchdown against Arkansas.  There's no question that Peterson can be effective as a receiver, especially when matched up against a linebacker or a safety.  The question is whether Peterson can become an effective blocker so that he can stay on the field for every down.  His development as an every down player is the key thing to watch this spring at the tight-end position. 

Junior Mitch Joseph will continue to see the field as a blocking tight-end.  At nearly 280 pounds, Joseph practically serves as another offensive lineman.  While almost nothing was good about LSU's running game last year, Joseph did an adequate job as a blocker.  He'll be more experienced and a year stronger in 2010. 

Sophomore Tyler Edwards will continue to try and see the field.  Edwards may be LSU's most versatile tight-end.  Listed at 237 pounds, Edwards is mobile enough to be a good receiver.  He's a tough blocker on the line of scrimmage, and he can also line up in the backfield and play some fullback or some H-back. 

The big news this spring is that former defensive end Chase Clement is now listed as a tight-end on the LSU roster, so he has apparently made the move.  Clement has TONS of potential as a tight-end.  He is 6'5" 260 pounds and very athletic.  As a defensive end, he just didn't have the burst or strength to be a play maker.  But as a tight-end, he could be a handful.  Clement will be a sophomore in 2010 so he has plenty of time to develop, and he could be a difference maker for LSU at some point in his career.

Junior Alex Russian is also in the mix.  Russian has primarily been a deep snapper during his career, but he lost his job last year to Joey Crappell.  I don't expect Russian to make a major impact at tight-end. 

In the fall, freshmen Travis Dickson and Nick Jacobs will join the mix.  I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Dickson earn playing time in 2010. 

Depth Chart:
Peterson (Jr)
Joseph (Jr)
Edwards (So)
Clement (So)
Russian (Jr)
Dickson (Fr)
Jacobs (Fr)




Saturday, February 20, 2010

LSU Lands A Pair Of Commitments At Junior Day

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LSU hosted a number of prospects on campus Saturday, and they landed a couple of verbal commitments for the Class of 2011 in the process. 

St. James reciever Alonzo Lewis decided to become a Tiger.  Lewis is a big receiver at 6'3" 200 pounds.  He does not have blazing speed, but he has a lot of potential to develop into a big-time player.  Lewis attended the U.S. Army Junior Combine in January and ran a slow 40 time.  Lewis excels at running good routes and using his body and strength to shield defenders. 

LSU also landed their first out of state commitment in League City, TX linebacker Trevon Randle.  Randle is a well put together 6'1" 205 pounds and has tons of speed.  He chose LSU over offers from Oklahoma, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Arizona.  He was also expected to receive an offer from Texas.  Randle was an all-state linebacker in Texas and also played a good deal on offense. It's early, but Scout.com rates Randle as the #5 outside linebacker in the nation while Rivals has him on their Rivals 250 Watch List.   He's also ranked #22 on Lone Star Recruiting's Texas Top 100 list.  Here is some video of Randle:




Be sure to checek the updates to The Big Board

A number of other prospects were in attendance on Saturday such as:
DT Mickey Johnson
WR  Bradley Sylve
OL  Sedrick Flowers
OL  Trai Turner
OL  Jonah Austin
QB  Zach Oliver
S/LB  Renaldo Thomas
ATH  Ryan Byrd
CB  Nick Shepard

The following LSU Commitments were also on hand:
RB Terrance Magee
RB  Kenny Hilliard
OL  La'El Collins
DT  Anthony Johnson
WR  Jarvis Landry

Three other prospects were on campus, but they were attending a track meet which happened to be taking place on Saturday.   It's unclear whether they were able to take part in any of the Junior Day activities or meet with the coaches while they were on campus.  Those players were:

OL  Greg Robinson
DB  T.K. Fleming
ATH  Effrem Reed

Despite all of the prospects that were on LSU's campus Saturday, the players who chose not to attend raised just as many eyebrows. 

LSU running back commitment Jeremy Hill chose to attend Alabama's Junior Day rather than LSU's.  This was after he apparently told Tigerbait.com that he was going to LSU late Friday night.  Hill probably just wanted to take a trip to check out another school, but it's still not a great sign that he decided to do so when LSU wanted him on campus. 

Rayville High School's Quinton Griffin (TE) and Gerand Johnson (DT) were both in Tuscaloosa as well. 

Evangel high school defensive end Jermauria Rasco and West Monroe defensive tackle Chuck Hunter were also in Alabama.  Rasco was originally scheduled to attend LSU's Junior Day. 

LSU is planning on having a second Junior Day in March on the same day as the Spring Game.  Many of the prospects that missed Saturday's Junior Day are planning to attend in March.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spring Practice Preview: Wide Recievers

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SPRING PRACTICE PREVIEW:  WRs

LSU lost three senior receivers from 2009, one of which was one of the best in school history.  But LSU is has some serious talent for 2010, and I expect the receiving corps to be one of the strengths of LSU's team.  New receivers coach Billy Gonzales should be an upgrade, and his presence could really make a difference in the performance of the entire group. 

Senior Terrance Toliver is back after a breakout campaign in 2009 where he caught 53 balls for 735 yards and three touchdowns.  While the SEC returns a number of big-time receivers in 2010, Toliver is in that group and should be on several pre-season All-SEC teams.  Toliver has always had a good on-field relationship with Jordan Jefferson, and that should flourish now that Jefferson is more experienced.  He is now the primary receiver, and the biggest thing he can do this spring is to set a good example for the other receivers and to develop as a team leader. 

Starting on the other side from Toliver should be sophomore Reuben Randle.  Randle came to LSU as one of the top recruits in the entire nation last year.  By the middle of his freshman season, Randle earned his position of being LSU's #3 receiver.  He had some big catches late in the games against Georgia and Ole Miss, giving us all a glimpse of what is to come.  He finished the season with only 11 receptions, but that is mostly due to playing behind outstanding veterans such as Toliver and Brandon Lafell.   Randle has great size and hands and does everything well as a receiver.  He's poised to break out in 2010. 

Competition will be heated for LSU's #3 receiver position, but Russell Shepard seems the most likely to win the spot.  The simple way to view this is that Shepard is too talented to keep on the sideline.  He has to be on the field, and the slot receiver is the most likely spot for him.  With Shepard working primarily at receiver this spring, I expect him to make great strides.  Other than Shepard's obvious physical skills, there's a lot to be excited about for him in 2010.  New receivers coach Billy Gonzales has successfully coached someone with Shepard's skill set when he coached Percy Harvin at Florida.  The hope is that Shepard can duplicate some of Harvin's success while working in the slot and motioning into the backfield.  Shepard's progress is one of the biggest things to watch this spring. 

Sophomore Chris Tolliver has yet to make a mark in his LSU career, despite being the state of Louisiana's top recruit in 2008.   Tolliver has a ton of speed and ability with the ball in his hands, but he has reportedly struggled with consistency catching the football.  As a result, he hasn't been able to earn his way onto the field.  He did have a very nice spring game last year.  He'll be battling to be LSU's #3 receiver, but he'll have a lot of competition.  I still have a lot of hope for Tolliver, and I think he can impact this team in a big way.  He needs to focus on being more consistent in practice to earn himself an opportunity in the games.  With his speed, he has to be a candidate to return kicks as well. 

Sophomore Jhyrn Taylor is similar to Tolliver in that he has yet to make a significant impact in his career.  Taylor is reportedly a very solid player but just hasn't been able to crack the playing rotation thus far.  Taylor is small in size at just over 170 pounds, but he runs good routes and has good speed.  He'll continue to compete and try to earn playing time. 

Junior John Williams continues to progress.  Williams is small in size and doesn't have blazing speed but he's a solid guy who does a good job in practice.  He actually had a very good spring practice last year, but it didn't translate into playing time on the field. 

In the fall, freshmen Kadron Boone, James Wright, Armand Williams, and Jarrett Fobbs all join the mix.  I expect at least one of these guys to play next year.  Wright and Boone are the most likely candidates. 

Depth Chart: 
Toliver (Sr)
Randle (So)
Shepard (So)
Tolliver (So)
Taylor (So)
Williams (Jr)
Wright (Fr)
Boone (Fr)
Fobbs (Fr)
Williams (Fr)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spring Practice Preview: Running Back & Fullback

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SPRING PRACTICE PREVIEW: RBs

LSU enters spring with a lot of uncertainty surrounding the running backs, and it will be one of the most watched positions at practice.   LSU must replace a lot of production with the loss of seniors Charles Scott, Keiland Williams, and Trindon Holliday.

New running backs coach Frank Wilson has indicated that he'd prefer to make a decision on his number one back and primarily use that guy.  However, it's imperative that multiple backs are used in the SEC.  Gone might be the days of baffling personnel decisions and rotations regarding the running backs that we saw under former assistant Larry Porter.  But without a clear #1 guy on LSU's team right now, it will be very interesting to see how the repetitions are distributed at spring practice. 

Junior Stevan Ridley seems the most likely to enter spring as the starting running back.  Ridley has shown a ton of promise in the limited playing time he has received thus far in his career.  In 2009, Ridley gained 180 yards on 45 carries for a 4.0 average.  His tough running style is well suited for the SEC.  Ridley has played some fullback during his LSU career and as a result, he's an accomplished blocker and therefore well suited to play in a one back set that LSU will likely employ in 2010.  He can also see the field as a fullback in certain situations. 

Senior Richard Murphy (pictured) returns after suffering a knee injury early in the 2009 season.  He'll be counted on as a team leader and has been given the #18 jersey that was passed down from Matt Mauck to Jacob Hester to Richard Dickson.  He's reportedly 100% and ready to go for spring practice.  Murphy is built more like a wide receiver, and it's hard to see him ever becoming a full-time back in the SEC.  You just don't see many SEC running backs built like Murphy.  I anticipate that Murphy will be used in certain situations as a change of pace guy and will be used a lot as a receiver out of the backfield.  Teaming with Russell Shepard, the two would make a great tandem in the Wildcat formation.  That's just my opinion though. 

Redshirt freshman Mike Ford is a guy that everyone's eager to see.  A highly regarded recruit a year ago, Ford is reportedly doing big things in the weight room.  If that translates onto the football field, then he'll be competing with Ridley for playing time.  Ford is one of the key guys to watch this spring.  He has an opportunity to really break out and make a name for himself. 

Another redshirt freshman, Drayton Calhoun, is the biggest question mark heading into the spring.  Calhoun was an electrifying athlete in high school.  After a brief stint at cornerback last spring, Calhoun has been working at running back.  He's on the smaller side at just 170 pounds but he's got blazing speed.  He may be able to partially fill the void left by Trindon Holliday, both out of the backfield and in the return game. 

Sophomore athlete Russell Shepard will also get some looks out of the backfield though he's going to primarily play receiver. 

In the fall, we'll see a lot more competition as freshmen Spencer Ware, Jahkari Gore, and Alfred Blue join the mix.  I expect to see one of the true freshmen see playing time next year with the other two redshirting.   

Depth Chart:
Stevan Ridley (Jr)
Richard Murphy (Sr)
Michael Ford (Fr)
Spencer Ware (Fr)
Jahkari Gore (Fr)
Alfred Blue (Fr)


FULLBACK: 

LSU lacked an effective fullback in 2009, and the running game suffered as a result.  The staff tried several guys back there, but none seemed to get the job done.  Several of the same guys return in 2010 and will be in competition for the starting position: 

Dominique Allen had a great opportunity to win the job in 2009 as a true freshman, but he showed up to fall camp overweight.  He didn't play for the first six games of the season.  Prior to the Auburn game, the coaches decided to pull the redshirt off of Allen and give him a chance.  He played against Auburn but didn't play much afterwards.  I'm interested to see how Allen looks physically this spring.  Has he lost weight?  Is he moving quicker?  The coaches would probably prefer that Allen win the job since he can be more than just a blocker.  He's a good runner and a good receiver out of the backfield.     

Walk-on James Stampley started the 2009 season as LSU's primary fullback, and he performed fairly well.  Stampley is a guy that has the physical ability to block people, but he needs to continue to improve at making the right reads.  If he does, then he could be LSU's answer at fullback. 

Kellen Theriot is the most intriguing guy to watch this spring. Theriot was a hell of an athlete coming out of high school but has been hindered by injuries since he's been at LSU.  Heading into his redshirt sophomore season, he's reportedly healthy and has made the move from linebacker to fullback. At around 230 pounds, he's on the small side for a fullback, but he's easily the most athletic guy at the position.  If he can be effective as a blocker, then LSU may have a special player and another weapon on offense.  I have high hopes for Theriot. 

Thomas Parsons is a sophomore offensive lineman who pitched in to help at fullback last year.  He did a good job for a guy who is 290 pounds.  Are the coaches going to keep him at fullback?  Or is he going to practice with the offensive line so he can develop at his "real" position?  We should know the answer to this on the first day of practice. 

Richard Dugas was another walk-on who moved from offensive line to try fullback.  He played some early in the season, but eventually lost playing time to James Stampley.  It's unclear whether he'll continue to work at fullback this spring, but I'm guessing he will. 

In the fall, true freshman Brandon Worle will join the mix and he looks like a good one.  It's also a possibility that Stevan Ridley play fullback in certain situations. 

Depth Chart:
Dominique Allen (So)
James Stampley (Jr)
Kellen Theriot (So)
Brandon Worle (Fr)
Thomas Parsons (So)
Richard Dugas (Sr)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spring Practice Preview: Quarterbacks; Recruiting Update

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With spring practice just a couple of weeks away, it's time to start taking a look at LSU's 2010 football team.  I generally like to do an in depth preview of each position highlighting the key position battles that we'll keep an eye on throughout spring practice.  I'll be trying my best to get through each position before spring practice begins. 



SPRING PRACTICE PREVIEW: QB

For the first time since the 2006 season, LSU can use the words "returning starter" when referencing the quarterback position.  That lack of experience at quarterback has been a large reason why LSU has struggled in 2008 and 2009.  The hope is that a veteran quarterback will go a long way in returning LSU to "elite" status in college football. 

In his first season as LSU's starter, Jordan Jefferson did an OK job.  He wasn't great.  But he completed over 61% of his passes, and he took good care of the football.   In looking at Jamarcus Russell's first year as a full-time starter, Jefferson compares very favorably.  Here is a comparison of the two:

Russell (2005):  60.5% completion  2443 yards  15 TDs  9 INTs
Jefferson (2009):  61.5% completion  2166 yards  17 TDs  7 INTs 

Jefferson also ran for 415 yards not counting sacks.  It's important to note that Russell was able to lean on a strong offensive line and running game.  The same can't be said for Jefferson.  Another point of interest is that Russell was in his third collegiate season while Jefferson was in his second. 

That comparison doesn't mean that Jefferson is on his way to an All-SEC season and a #1 overall pick in the 2011 Draft.  He needs a lot of improvement.  Jefferson was often very tentative to throw the ball if the receiver wasn't wide open.  As a result, he took a very high number of sacks.  He needs to trust his arm and trust that his receivers can make a play.  That seems likely to improve now that he's more experienced.  The fans and coaches will certainly look for him to have more of a "take charge" demeanor. 

One of Jefferson's strengths is that he's able to run the ball effectively, and he forces the defense to account for him in the running game.  In 2009, it seems that LSU's coaching staff got away from calling a lot of designed runs for Jefferson after the first game.  Against Washington, Jefferson took a couple of big hits and he was rarely used as a runner after that.  I'm curious to see how often Jefferson is on the move next season.  In my opinion, he's much more effective when he's integrated into the running game. 

Jefferson enters spring practice as the clear starter, and I fully expect him to be the starter for the 2010 season. 

Behind Jefferson, Jarrett Lee returns to LSU for his junior season.  Many have speculated that Lee would transfer, but he'll be out at the Ponderosa this spring.  We all know about Lee's struggles as a freshman during the 2008 season.  He was given an opportunity to show that he had improved when he started the Louisiana Tech game in 2009 while Jefferson was injured.  However, Lee struggled badly and convinced everyone that he may never be a contributor as LSU's quarterback.  For that reason, I expect Lee to be pushed for the backup position this spring. 

Redshirt freshman Chris Garrett has earned some very positive reviews from the practice fields, and many are expecting that Garrett will not only challenge Lee for the #2 spot but that he may even push Jefferson.  Garrett is a big guy at 6'4" 235 pounds and has a strong arm.  He is a true pocket passer.  He will be a very important guy to watch this spring. 

At this point, I'm hearing that Russell Shepard will primarily play wide receiver this spring so I don't think he's in the mix at quarterback. 

After Garrett, that leaves walk-on T.C. McCartney. 

In the fall, true freshman Zach Lee and walk-on Barrett Bailey will join the mix.  Lee is also a big-time baseball player and is expected to be drafted high in the Major League Baseball draft.  If he's drafted high enough, then he may not be at LSU in the fall. 

The most important thing to watch this spring is the improvement of Jordan Jefferson.  Number two on the list is the development of Chris Garrett. 

Depth Chart:
Jordan Jefferson (Jr)
Jarrett Lee (Jr)
Chris Garrett (Fr)
T.C. McCartney (Jr)
Zach Lee (Fr)
Barrett Bailey (Fr)

RECRUITING

I discussed that Texas had their Junior Day this weekend and as expected, they landed a number of verbal commitments.  They received 13 commitments over the weekend.  The good news for LSU fans is that most of the guys that LSU is heavily recruiting left Austin without pledging to Texas. 

Guys like OL Sedrick Flowers, LB Trevon Randle, DE Cedric Reed, and DE Nathan Hughes are still on the market.  Flowers and Randle are planning to be at LSU's Junior Day next weekend.   It's also important to note that Texas has commitments from two wide receivers.  After taking six in the Class of 2010, they may be done at receiver or only be looking to take one more.  That should help LSU's chances with Trey Metoyer, a receiver from Whitehouse, Texas who is strongly considering LSU. 

Safety Sheroid Evans did commit to Texas, and LSU was recruiting him. 

I'll try to track down a good list of prospects who are attending LSU's Junior Day sometime this week.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Big Board

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PROSPECTS
Note: Prospects in Bold reprsent those with LSU offers

QB
CJ Uzomah - GA
Teddy Bridgewater - FL Miami Northwestern
Marquise Williams - Charlotte, NC
Justin Worley - Rock Hill, SC
Kiehl Frazier - Springdale, AR
Jacoby Brissett - West Palm Beach, FL
Zack Oliver - Catholic HS Baton Rouge
Brian Ensminger - Hahnville HS
Stevie Douglas - Clinton, LA
Dak Prescott - Haughton, LA

RB
Isaiah Crowell - GA

FB
Dylan Ledet - ED White HS
Artaves Gibson - Memphis, TN
Nick Lifka - IL

WR
Bradley Sylve - South Plaquemine HS LA
Joseph Morrow - Ocean Springs, MS
Nigel King - NC
Rod Davis - Many HS
Hakeem Flowers - SC

TE
Quinton Griffin - Rayville HS
Johnny Banks - Christian Life Academy HS Baton Rouge
Chris Barnett - Dallas, TX
Malcolm Faciane - Picayune, MS

OL
Greg Robinson - Thibodaux HS
Jonah Austin - St Aug HS
James Maiden - Woodville, MS
Chester Hebert - Shaw HS
Dathon Thomas - East St. John HS
Trai Turner - St. Aug HS
Bobby Hart - Fort Lauderdale, FL
Ethan Hutson - Destrehan HS

DT
Mickey Johnson - St Pauls HS
Chuck Hunter - West Monroe HS
Gerrand Johnson - Rayville HS
Grady Jarrett - GA

DE
Jermauria Rasco - Evangel HS Shreveport
Jadeveon Clowney - SC
Ray Drew - Thomasville, GA
Chris Jones - Jacksonville, FL
Giorgio Newberry - Fort Pierce, FL

LB
Anthony Wallace - Dallas Skyline, TX
C.J. Johnson - Philadelphia, MS  (Mississippi State commitment)
Travis Hughes - Virginia Beach, VA
Lateek Townsend - Bennettsville, SC
Gionni Paul - Lakeland, FL
Beau Fitte - South Plaquemine HS LA
Michael Petty - Alexandria, LA
Trey Brown - Lancaster, TX
Denzel Perryman - Miami, FL

CB
Floyd Raven - East St John HS
JeVante Watson - Bastrop HS
Doran Grant - Akron, OH
Nick Shepard - Houston, TX
Daren Kitchen - Vandebilt Catholic HS Houma

S
Renaldo Thomas - St. Augustine HS (could play LB)
Quincy Aldridge - Whitehouse, TX (near Tyler)
Ellis Carey - Helen Cox HS - Harvey LA
T.K. Fleming - Benton, LA
Jermaine Reve - Miami, FL

ATH
Odell Beckham - Newman HS (WR or CB)
Avery Walls - McDonough, GA (CB or S)
Nickalos Brassell - Batesville, MS  (WR or CB)
Pat Martin - Greenville, SC  (CB or S)
Malcolm Mitchell - Valdosta, GA (DB or WR)
Ryan Byrd - St Helena Central Greensburg LA (WR or S)
Paul Turner - West Monroe HS (CB or offense)
Levander Liggins - Leesville HS (RB or S)
Deshazor Everett - Deridder, LA (CB or S)
Michael Hunter - Richwood HS Monroe LA
Effrem Reed - Dutchtown HS (CB or RB)


COMMITMENTS (10)

RB
Kenny Hilliard - Patterson HS - 6'0" 220 pounds:  Hilliard has probably been the state of Louisiana's best running back over the last two years. Physically, he's got the body to play college football right now. Despite being Dalton Hilliard's nephew, Kenny is much bigger than Dalton and runs with a different style.  Hilliard doesn't have great top end speed, but he is decisive running the ball, and he accelerates quickly through the line. He navigates through traffic surprisingly well for a big guy. After his initial cut, he doesn't shy away from contact and punishes defenders. He runs with a good low pad level. He's also a good receiver out of the backfield.  He running style reminds me of former Tennessee Vol Jamal Lewis.

Terrance Magee - Franklinton HS - 5'9" 190 pounds:  Magee is a fantastic athlete who plays quarterback for Franklinton but projects as a running back in college. Magee has a very powerful lower body that is reminiscent of Dalton Hilliard and has great strength for someone who is under 200 pounds. He's got very good speed and could outrun defenders at the college level. He could stand to add some bulk to his upper body which would enable him to take the pounding he'll see at the next level. I am very high on Magee and won't be surprised if he turns out to be the best of the three backs in this class.

Jeremy Hill - Redemptorist HS - 6'1" 220 pounds:  Hill is another "big back" with a ton of potential. He's awfully similar to Hilliard though not quite the bruiser at the point of contact.  He makes up for that with exceptional vision, often making the right cut and finding a hole through the front seven and into the secondary. He runs very decisively. Hill doesn't have great speed, but it's not bad at all for a guy who is 220 pounds. His running style reminds me a lot of Stevan Ridley.

WR
Jarvis Landry - Lutcher HS - 5'11" 180 pounds:  Landry is a college-ready receiver that should be able to contribute right away at the next level.  He runs very precise routes and can get open with ease.  Landry has great hands and catches the ball away from his body. He's also deadly after the catch.  He is not a blazer but does have good speed.  His style of play will remind Tiger fans of Josh Reed. Despite being an LSU Commitment, Landry will have offers from every major school and will be heavily recruited. At camps last summer, Landry outperformed all other receivers in attendance including some 5-star guys from the Class of 2010.  He's the real deal and a must-get for LSU.

Alonzo Lewis - St. James HS - 6'3" 190 pounds: James has very good size at receiver and should be a very physical player in college. He attended the U.S. Army All-American Junior Combine in January and ran a slow 40 time while he was there. However, I've seen a few clips of him from the combine and he looks to have plenty of speed.  He seems to be another in the growing line of successful big LSU receivers. LSU coaches saw Lewis first hand at a camp last summer, and they obviously liked what they saw. Lewis received a very early offer from Les Miles.

OL
La'El Collins - Redemptorist HS - 6'4" 285 pounds:  Collins is an elite offensive tackle prospect, and Louisiana hasn't seen too many of them over the last several years. Collins really made a name for himself at some camps last summer. He has great footwork and uses his hands extremely well. He also has great strength and can get after it when run blocking.  He looks like a future multi-year starter for LSU at offensive tackle, a future multi-year All-SEC performer, and a potential first round pick. That's a hell of a lot to project for someone, but Collins is that kind of prospect. He's a candidate to be a five star prospect and a Top 20 player nationally.

Corey White - Capitol HS - 6'4" 290 pounds: White is a very solid offensive guard prospect. He has big size and good strength. He's a mauler and uses his enormous size to overpower opponents at the high school level which he won't be able to do as frequently in college. White does lack agility and quickness, and he'll be much more effective as a straight ahead run blocker rather than someone who will pull and get in front of a running play to the outside.

DT
Anthony Johnson - O.Perry Walker HS - 6'3" 295 pounds:  Johnson has the nickname "Freak" for a reason. He is an absolute monster and is virtually unblockable. He is naturally very strong and very quick off the ball. He finished his junior season with 89 tackles and 16 sacks. He seems to get into the opponent's backfield at will. In my opinion, he's the best prospect in the state this year and a Top 15 player nationally.

DE
Quentin Griffin - Breaux Bridge HS - 6'4" 260 pounds - Griffin was recruited to LSU as a big defensive end, and he has the frame to play both end or tackle.  He's currently a very lean 6'4" 260 pounds with a large wingspan.  His film is impressive, and he shows incredible potential and a willingness to never give up on a play.  He tends to play a little high but that's not too uncommon for a high school lineman.  I can see him as a Marquise Hill / Tyson Jackson type of strongside defensive end or as a quicker interior lineman. 


LB
Trevon Randle - League City, TX - 6'1" 205 pounds:  Randle is a tremendous all around athlete and brings a lot of speed to the linebacker position. He gets to the ball carrier in a hurry and then delivers that "punch" you like to see when he makes a hit. While he's a bit light for a college linebacker, he has plenty of time to grow, and I suspect he'll end up playing at around 220 pounds at LSU. Randle also plays running back in high school. Randle was a top target of Texas and also had offers from Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona, and UCLA. While the state of Louisiana is loaded with talent this year, linebacker is one position that is lacking. For LSU to be able to go out of state and fill that void with a player of Randle's caliber is impressive.

Finals Notes on Class of 2010; Look Ahead to 2011

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Final Notes On The Class of 2010 Around The SEC

LSU had a very strong finish to the 2010 recruiting class. But while the Tigers finished with a class ranked between sixth and eighth nationally, they finished third in the SEC West and fourth in the SEC. So while it's a very strong class, it may not have improved LSU's position in the league. The SEC will see a lot of new stars in the fall and with the right opportunity, many of them will have an instant impact. Here's a brief look at some true freshmen who may have big impacts on the SEC next year:

RB Michael Dyer - Auburn:  In my opinion, Dyer was the best running back prospect in the nation. Auburn went to Arkansas and stole him away from the Hogs. He's compact, powerful, and has great speed. With Ben Tate graduating and moving to the NFL, Dyer has a great opportunity to take over as Auburn's main back.

WR Da'Rick Rogers - Tennessee:  The Vols stole Rogers, a Georgia native, away from Georgia a week before Signing Day. Rogers is the best receiver prospect in the entire nation. He's big, fast, athletic, has good hands and runs great routes. He does it all, and he could have a big-time impact as a freshman similar to what we saw from A.J. Green and Julio Jones in 2008.

RB Marcus Lattimore - South Carolina:  The South Carolina native ultimately decided to stay home and play for the Gamecocks despite being heavily recruited by Auburn. The five star prospect has the opportunity to become the main ball carrier for the Cocks and could really help their offense, which now has a veteran quarterback (Garcia) and a big-time receiver (Jeffrey).

DT Sharrif Floyd - Florida:  Floyd is as dominant a defensive tackle prospect as you will ever see. He'll have to pass up a lot of talented players at Florida to earn playing time but he's such a good prospect that he could make an impact once he sees the field.

QB Cameron Newton - Auburn:  Newton was a five star prospect out of high school a few years ago when he signed with Florida. He ultimately landed at a Junior College and now has re-signed with Auburn. He's a big kid with a good arm who is fmailiar with a spread offense. He has a very good chance to win the starting job at Auburn in 2010.


Class Of 2011

It has now been over a week since Signing Day, so it's time to start looking at next year's group. In reality, I've been looking at next year's group since last summer and posted about it last month. The collection of talent in the state of Louisiana is the best it has been since 2001, and LSU is doing a great job with all of these players having already landed verbal commitments from seven of the state's top players. It's imperative that LSU take advantage of the in-state talent this year. If they do, they are sure to have one of the nation's top classes.

Even though Signing Day for the Class of 2011 isn't for another year, it's important to start following what is happening. LSU may not have room to sign a full class of 25 players, and seven players are already verbally committed. So LSU is already about 30% complete with next year's class. Additionally, Junior Days are coming up and we typically see a flurry of activity at these events.

Texas is hosting their first Junior Day this weekend and as usual, LSU has their eyes on a lot of prospects from the state of Texas. Texas doesn't publicly offer anyone until their first Junior Day, and they usually get a ton of commitments as a result. By next Tuesday, the Horns will probably have at least a dozen commitments. That will then clear things up for teams such as LSU as to what prospects in the state of Texas are willing to consider other schools. You can scan the list of prospects and note the large number of Texas players that LSU is recruiting.

LSU hosts their Junior Day the following weekend (Feb 19-21) and a number of big names will be attending. As we get closer to Junior Day, I'll try to track down a list of who is coming. LSU will be hoping to close some players next weekend too.

My idea for covering recruiting this year is to keep a running list of LSU Commitments and players that LSU is pursuing. When I've got enough information, I'll provide an evaluation for each player. I've started by doing the current LSU commitments but hope to add to this shortly with some of the other in-state guys on the Prospects List. This way, readers can check it out anytime. I'll frequently reference the list and link it to current articles. This is easier than re-creating the list for each new recruiting article. I'll also keep my Louisiana Recruiting rankings on their own page. It's also important to note that a ton of new names will pop up between now and the summer.

Louisiana Recruiting Rankings - Class of 2011

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1. DT Anthony "Freak" Johnson  O.Perry Walker HS (LSU Commitment)
Offers: LSU, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, USC, Miami, Oklahoma, others
Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUGvTLYFASE

2. OL La'El Collins Redemptorist HS (LSU Commitment)
Offers:  LSU, Florida, Tennessee, FSU, others

3. WR Jarvis Landry Lutcher HS (LSU Commitment)
Offers:  LSU, Notre Dame, Auburn, Oklahoma, Michigan, Tennessee, others
Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cT9x9-Kf93s

4. DE Jermauria Rasco Evangel HS
Offers:  LSU, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, Notre Dame, USC, Tennessee, others

5. OL Greg Robinson Thibodaux HS
Offers:  LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Michigan, Nebarska, Oklahoma, USC, others

6. RB Kenny Hilliard Patterson HS (LSU Commitment)
Offers:  LSU, Tennessee, Miami, Notre Dame, Texas A&M
Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCsroodh0tQ

7. WR Bradley Sylve South Plaquemines HS
Offers:  LSU, Alabama, Nebraska, USC, Tennessee, Cal, Others

8. RB Terrance Magee Magee Franklinton HS (LSU Commitment)
Offers:  LSU, Texas A&M

9. RB Jeremy Hill  Redemporist HS (LSU Commitment)
Offers:  LSU, Florida State, Tennessee, Arkansas, Nebraska, others
Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUUkeCW39G8

10. DT Mickey Johnson St Pauls HS
Offers:  LSU, Alabama, Nebraska, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, others
Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQu7QA8oxTA&feature=fvw

11. ATH Odell Beckham Jr. Newman HS
Offers:  LSU, Tulsa, Memphis, others
Video:  http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Odell+Beckham&aq=f

12. QB Zack Oliver Catholic HS
Offers: Northwestern, Tulsa,

13. WR Alonzo Lewis  St. James HS (LSU Commitment)
Offers:  LSU, Tulsa, Houston

14.  DT Quentin Thomas Breaux Bridge HS (LSU Commitment)
Offers: LSU, Texas A&M

15.  OL Trai Turner St. Augustine HS
Offers: LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Tennessee, others
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZoXwyhfC70

16.  S Renaldo Thomas St. Augustine HS
Offers: LSU, Michigan, Tennessee

17.  Corey White  Capitol HS (LSU Commitment)
Offers:  LSU, Houston


WATCH LIST

DT  Chuck Hunter  West Monroe HS
Offers:  Ole Miss, Mississippi State, TCU, Baylor

ATH Ryan Byrd Helena Central HS (WR or S)
Offers:  Ole Miss, Minnesota, Memphis
Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDy3h1o677c

ATH Levander Liggins  Leesville HS

CB Jevante Watson  Bastrop HS
Offers:  None

S  T.K. Fleming  Benton HS
Offers: Nebraska, Tennessee, Oregon, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, UCLA, others

DB  Deshazor Everett  Deridder HS
Offers:  Arkansas, Ole Miss, Memphis, SMU

DB  Ellis Carey  Helen Cox HS
Offers:  None

DB  Floyd Raven  East St. John HS
Offers:  Tulsa

OL  Jonah Austin  St. Augustine HS
Offers:  Michigan, SMU, Tulsa, Kentucky, Baylor

OL  Dathan Thomas  East St. John HS

OL Chester Hebert  Shaw HS

QB Stevie Douglas  Clinton, LA
Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgUM2Cff1rg

ATH  Effrem Reed  Dutchtown HS

ATH  Daniel Sams  Salmen HS (Kansas State Commitment)
Offers:  Kansas State, Tulsa
Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvBCPV976-c

DT  Gerrand Johnson  Rayville HS
Offers:  Nebraska, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Memphis

ATH  Quenton Griffin  Rayville HS
Offers:  None

CB  Daren Kitchen  Vandebilt Catholic HS 
Offers:  Nebraska, Stanford

DT Demarcus Hodge  Neville HS
Offers:  Mississippi State, Arkansas, Memphis

ATH  Devante Scott  Ferriday HS  (Mississippi State Commitment)
Offers:  Mississippi State

TE  Johnny Banks  Christian Life  HS

QB  Dak Prescott  Haughton HS

ATH Stephon Smith  St. Pauls HS
Offers:  Kansas St.
Video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmRbmKrPEzk

OL Ethan Hutson  Destrehan HS

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2010 LSU Baseball Preview

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LSU Football is over. LSU Basketball is rebuilding. Football recruiting is wrapping up. If you’re like me, you’re starting to get the itch for the LSU Baseball team to take the field and defend their national championship.


Gone from last year’s team are key players DJ LaMahieu, Ryan Schimpf, Jared Mitchell, Sean Ochinko, and Louis Coleman. However, LSU will have a very strong team that should be a contender nationally in 2010.  Baseball America has LSU ranked as the pre-season #3 team in the nation.  Another trip to Omaha is certainly a strong possibility. 

Let’s take a look at the guys expected to replace those departed stars along with the returning contributors from last year. Many of these guys may shift positions, but this is just my projection on how things may look.

C
Micah Gibbs - .294 6 HR 42 RBI
Micah Gibbs (pictured) will man the dish for the third straight season for LSU. Gibbs is widely regarded as one of the nation’s best defensive catchers, and he’s not too shabby with the bat either. Gibbs is a guy that can find a home anywhere in the batting order and be effective. I look for some slightly improved batting numbers from him in 2010, and he should be one of the leaders of the team.  He was voted a 1st Team All American by Baseball America. 

Wes Luquette – High School
Luquette is a true freshman that is highly regarded. He was drafted in the 27th round of last year’s Major League Baseball draft and may have been drafted higher if not for an injury. I anticipate that he’ll be the backup to Gibbs and get a handful of starts this year in anticipation of him starting in 2011.

1B
Blake Dean – .328 17 HR 71 RBI
Dean has been the star of LSU’s team over the past two seasons as a designated hitter, and he returns for his senior season where he plans to earn a position in the field. The likely scenario is that Dean lands at first base which should help his draft stock. Dean is the heart and soul of LSU’s team and will be counted on time and time again to come through in the clutch.

Kyle Koeneman – Junior College
Koeneman comes to LSU from junior college where he was one of the best power hitters in the nation. He hit 50 home runs in two seasons. If for some reason Dean can’t cut it as a first baseman defensively, then Koeneman may be the guy to take over. If he continues to hit as he did in junior college, Koneman could find a spot as LSU’s designated hitter as well. It’s not totally out of the question that Koeneman have a Matt Clark-like impact on the 2010 team. 

2B
Tyler Hanover - .321 5 HR 47 RBI 6 SB
Hanover was the team’s starting third baseman for much of 2009, and he’s expected to play his more natural position of second base this year. Despite being just 5’6”, Hanover packs a serious punch at the plate and has good power. His experience last year should benefit him a great deal, and he’s a candidate to be a double digit home run guy in 2010.  He’s also a guy that can bat anywhere from 2nd to 9th in the batting order.

SS
Austin Nola - .240 3 HR 18 RBI 3 SB
As a true freshman in 2009, Nola took over the starting shortstop job halfway through the season. His move into the lineup triggered LSU’s late season run that propelled them to Omaha. Nola is already an outstanding defensive shortstop, and he held his own at the plate for a true freshman. A good hitter in high school, most expect Nola to drastically improve his hitting now that he’s got some experience at the college level. He’s a candidate to really break out in 2010. With good speed, he might be a candidate to lead off this year.

3B
Wet Delatte – Redshirt
Delatte is a redshirt freshman who has reportedly made a move to win the third base job with a strong showing at fall practice.

Beau Didier – Redshirt
Didier came to LSU with high promise last year but required surgery on his elbow. He had one plate appearance in 2009 before the surgery, but he hit a home run in that one at bat. Didier is a lefty batter, and he’ll be in the mix at third base and possibly as a designated hitter. He can also catch and may be the backup to Micah Gibbs if the staff decides to redshirt Wes Luquette.

INF
Grant Dozar - .265 2 HR 6 RBI
Dozar played sparingly as a freshman last year but fared pretty well. He played some first base, and he’s another guy that can catch if called upon to do so. With another year of experience, Dozar could be in the mix at designated hitter or at the corner infield positions.

Matt Gaudet – Out last year
Gaudet came to LSU from Delgado before the 2008 season. He played sparingly in 2008 but sat out in 2009. He’s back in 2010 for his senior season and is supposedly pushing for playing time somewhere on this team. Gaudet is a big kid at 6’2” 220 pounds and is another candidate to be the team’s designated hitter. Gaudet could potentially play in the outfield as well.

Mason Katz – High School
Katz is a true freshman who will ultimately be a middle infielder. He could be the backup to both Hanover and Nola this season, although it’s certainly possible that he redshirts. He’s very similar to Austin Nola coming out of high school.

OF
Leon Landry - .300 12 HR 41 RBI 9 SB
Landry (pictured) had a very productive 2009 season even though he lost his starting job halfway through the season.  Landry plays exceptional defense, and he also had great power numbers. If Landry can be a little more consistent at the plate, he will be a full blown star. Landry struck out 43 times in 170 bats or once every 3.95 times at the plate, and that needs to improve. Landry will be counted on as one of the big sticks in the lineup this year.

Mikie Mahtook - .316 7 HR 38 RBI 9 SB
Mahtook played his way into the starting lineup as a true freshman last year and was the team’s starting centerfielder down the stretch. Even though he’s a big kid at 6’1” 200 pounds, he’s very fast and very athletic. He made a number of highlight reel catches in centerfield last year. Mahtook was fairly consistent at the plate too, and he showed the potential to be a big power guy for LSU. I fully expect him to be a double digit home run guy in 2010 and a mainstay in the middle of the batting order.

Trey Watkins – Junior College
Watkins comes to LSU from LSU Eunice and is expected to win the starting centerfield job. Considering Leon Landry started off 2009 as the starting CF and was replaced by Mahtook…and that both of those guys are still on the team, it speaks volumes to Watkins’ defensive ability. Watkins is a compact guy at 5’8” 185 pounds, but he can really, really move. His stats at LSU Eunice were very impressive. He hit .418 with 7 HR and 71 RBI and stole a ridiculous 58 bases in 61 attempts. He seems like a great candidate to lead off for LSU this year.

Johnny Dishon – Redshirt
Dishon played as a backup outfielder in 2008 but redshirted last year. He was mostly used as a defensive replacement and a pinch runner in 2008 though he did manage 2 HR and 12 RBI. He’ll likely return to a similar role in 2010 as the fourth outfielder and defensive specialist.

Starting Pitching

Anthony Ranaudo – 12-3 3.04 ERA 159 K 50 BB 124.1 IP .209 BA against
Ranaudo (pictured) is LSU’s hoss this year. There’s no doubt that he is the Friday starter, and he’ll be the guy expected to win games in the post season. Ranaudo is a pre-season All American and a projected high first round draft pick in the MLB draft. If there’s something for Ranaudo to improve on, it’s to reduce the number of walks.

Austin Ross – 6-8 5.18 ERA 76 K 22 BB 83.1 IP .305 BA against
Ross was the Sunday starter for most of last season, and he performed OK. At times, Ross looked great and was unhittable. At other times, he got roughed up pretty bad. He needs to become more consistent and a guy that LSU can count on to win games. He’ll get the first crack at being LSU’s #2 starter and if he’s consistent, then he’ll probably stay there.

Daniel Bradshaw – 4-0 3.04 ERA 33K 11 BB 50.1 IP .242 BA against
Bradshaw was mostly used in relief last year, but he was very effective. Down the stretch, he was one of LSU’s most effective pitchers. In his last 19 IP of 2009, Bradshaw only allowed a 0.95 ERA. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he can get the job done. He’ll have every opportunity to land a spot in LSU’s rotation, but he could be awfully valuable coming out of the bullpen too.

Joey Bourgeois – Junior College
Bourgeois also comes to LSU from LSU Eunice and will compete for a spot in the starting rotation. Bourgeois is a big guy at 6’2” 225 pounds and he strikes out a lot of batters. At LSU Eunice, Bourgeois was 12-2 with 98 Ks in 87 IP. He also had a hefty 5.90 ERA. I’m not sure what kind of stuff Bourgeois has, but those numbers tell me that he is a pure power pitcher that is either “feast or famine,” probably throwing plenty of fast balls.

Chris Matulis – 6-2 4.82 ERA 39K 15 BB 46.2 IP .293 BA against
As a true freshman in 2009, Matulis was very effective early in the year. He filled the role of one of the week day starters for LSU and did it well.  As LSU’s only left handed starter, he was useful out of the bullpen on weekends too. But halfway through the season, something happened and he became very ineffective. He really struggled getting outs during the second part of the year. He represents LSU’s only possibility as a left handed pitcher in 2010 and hopefully he’s back on track.

Relief Pitching

Matty Ott – 4-2 2.68 ERA 69K 6 BB 50.1 IP .237 BA against 16 saves
Ott was the surprise of the 2009 season, breaking LSU’s record for saves as a true freshman. He was amazingly consistent in his ability to shut the door on opponents. I’ve heard some discussion of potentially using Ott as a starter in 2010, but most of that has subsided especially when Chad Jones, who could have taken over as closer, decided to go to the NFL. Ott will undoubtedly be called upon to be LSU’s guy in crunch time, and there’s no reason to believe that he won’t be outstanding again. 

Paul Bertuccini – 2-0 3.86 ERA 31K 15 BB 25.2 IP .242 BA against 3 saves
Bertuccini will be one of LSU’s top relief pitchers in 2010. His outstanding curve ball, which he throws almost primarily, really gives hitters a different look when he comes into a game. For that reason, Bertuccini is often called upon to get LSU out of jams with men on base. He should continue that role again this year.

Mitch Moormann – Junior College
I don’t know much about Moormann right now other than LSU signed him out of Junior College where he won 10 games in 13 starts with a 3.40 ERA. I’ll be very interested to see how LSU incorporates Moormann into the mix early in the season. He’s one to keep an eye on.

Shane Riedie, Jordan Rittiner, and Ben Alsup all return some experience as well. Certainly, these guys will be competing for innings and LSU will need one or more to step up and pitch well.

Freshmen Mike Reed, Zach LaSuzzo and Forrest Garrett will be competing as well.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Signing Day Recap

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What a day!  LSU enjoyed some very positive surprises on National Signing Day, and those surprises transformed a class that was starting to look like a bit of a disappointment into a huge success.  LSU went into Wednesday with 25 verbal commitments, but they added four very good players.   If you missed it, be sure to check my breakdown of the entire Class of 2010 which has been updated to include the complete class. 

As long as I've been following recruiting, the strength of LSU's signing class is always dependent on the level of talent in the state of Louisiana.  With this year being a bit down in Louisiana, LSU was forced to go out of state to meet their needs.  LSU looked to have done just that before suffering de-commitments from out of state stars such as WR Justin Hunter, WR Mike Davis, DT Cassius Marsh, and OT Jamarcus Hardrick. 

I think these de-commitments actually speak well to the LSU staff's ability to evaluate talent.  LSU recruited and secured commitments from those guys before many of the other big time schools showed interest.  Once those guys played their senior seasons and went to the various All-American games, they ALL saw their stock rise and their rankings improve.  More schools began recruiting them hard and schools that were closer to home eventually won out.  The same can be said for running back Spencer Ware, but he chose to honor his commitment to LSU. 

The staff was then obviously forced to fill the voids left by those de-commitments, and that has been the focus of the final few weeks of this recruiting season.  Signing Day brought some great surprises in helping to fill those holes. 

The morning started with Florida receiver Kadron Boone choosing LSU over Georgia, Louisville, and Texas Tech. 

Soon after, LSU got another surprise.  Despite claiming that he was signing with Tennessee as recently as Tuesday evening, J.C. Copeland faxed in his letter of intent to LSU on Wednesday. 

Shreveport athlete Jarrett Fobbs has been a commitment to Texas A&M for many months.  LSU recruited him very hard over the last month and seemed to have a lot of momentum.  But Fobbs took a visit to College Station on the final weekend before Signing Day and it didn't look good for LSU.   But on Tuesday, word began to spread that Fobbs was once again leaning towards the Tigers and LSU fans were happy to see his letter of intent come through on Wednesday. 

The biggest surprise of the day was when Maryland defensive lineman Ego Ferguson chose LSU.  Most thought he was headed to Miami, but Ferguson felt most comfortable with the Tigers. 

In order to make the numbers work, it appears that St. Pauls HS defensive end / linebacker Houston Bates is going to "grayshirt" which means he won't be on football scholarship until the Spring of 2011.  He will therefore count against the numbers for the Class 2011. 

Selma, AL defensive tackle Dexter Blackmon did not sign, and his status is unclear right now.  He reportedly has some work to do academically, so perhaps Junior College is a likely destination.  I'm just speculating there, but I'm sure we'll learn more about his situation shortly.  

As far as my thoughts on the players, most of that is covered in my last update.  But here is my ranking of the Top 15 players in the class:

1.  S Eric Reid
2.  RB  Spencer Ware
3.  DL  Ego Ferguson
4.  DT  J.C. Copeland
5.  DB  Ronnie Vinson
6.  OL  Evan Washington
7.  QB  Zach Lee
8.  TE  Travis Dickson
9.  ATH  Tharold Simon
10.  WR James Wright
11.  LB  Justin Maclin
12.  WR Kadron Boone
13.  RB  Jahkori Gore
14.  ATH  Jarrett Fobbs
15.  RB Alfred Blue

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2010 Signing Class Review

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This is my annual review of LSU's signing class, complete with the rankings of the prospect, my thoughts, some video where available, and my comparison to a former or current player.  It should be noted that the "Reminds Me Of" feature is designed to compare the style of play of the prospects rather than their overall ability.  However, some players don't strike a resemblence to anyone in my opinion. 

I wanted to post this on Tuesday to give everyone a preview of the guys expected to sign with LSU on Wednesday.  I'll finalize this post later depending on how LSU's class changes on Signing Day. 

QB
Zach Lee - Lee is big (6'4" 200 pounds) and very athletic.  He's got a big arm and was very productive in high school.  He completed 57% of his passes as a senior with 31 TDs and just 6 INTs.  As a junior, he completed 63% with 33 TDs and 10 INTs.  While not considered a dual-threat quarterback, Lee is mobile and can move the chains with his feet.  He operated mostly out of the shotgun in high school.  The big question with Zach is whether or not he'll ever set foot on LSU's campus.  He's a big time baseball prospect as a pitcher (can reportedly throw 90 + MPH) and will be drafted high in the Major League Baseball draft.  Will it be high enough to entice him away from LSU?   We won't know until August.  He reminds me a lot off Matt Mauck, not only due to the similarities as a baseball player, but also in mobility and decision making.

Rivals:  #9 QB  #217 overall  4 stars
Scout:  #21 QB  4 stars
ESPN: #9 QB  4 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Matt Mauck





RB
Spencer Ware - Cincinnati, OH:  Ware has the perfect build for a running back at 5'11" 220 pounds.  A quarterback for all four years in high school, Ware will have to make the transition to running back.  He earned a lot of high praise for his play at running back both at LSU's camp over the summer and at the U.S. Army All-American game in early January.  He should continue to improve as he gets more repetitions as as running back.  His performance during the week of the All-American game has drastically increased his rankings by the various recruiting services.  Ware may not have blazing top end speed, but he has exceptional burst and acceleration.  He also has an uncanny ability to make sharp cuts for a guy his size.  As long as Ware keeps his weight in check, it's hard to imagine him not being an impact player for LSU. 
 
Rivals:  #3 ATH  #19 overall  5 stars
Scout:  #10 RB  #60 overall  4 stars
ESPN:  #12 RB  4 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Ronnie Brown  (Auburn 2004)
Video:  Here

Jahkori Gore - Miami, FL:  At just 5'9" 170 pounds, we haven't seen a back like Gore at LSU in quite some time.  Generally a guy with his size has to be blazing fast in order to play in the SEC.  While Gore has good speed, he's not a Trindon Holliday type of burner.  He's just a darn good running back that happens to be small.  He has good initial burst and runs with great vision, using and setting up his blocks well.  And despite his small stature, Gore isn't afriad to run it hard between the tackles.  He reminds me of Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers.  Gore was extremely productive in high school playing in one of the more competitive districts in the nation.  Gore chose LSU over offers from Tennessee, Cal, and Auburn. 

Rivals:  #6 All-Purpose Back  #184 overall   4 stars
Scout:  #30 RB  3 stars
ESPN:  #36 RB  3 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Jacquizz Rodgers  (Oregon State)








Alfred Blue - Hahnville HS:  Blue is Louisiana's top running back prospect this year.  He has a slender build for a running back and actually looks more like a safety.  He's 6'1" 200 pounds and is a slashing style of runner.  At this point, he runs a little too upright but he does run very hard.  He has good speed, but not great.  He has the frame to fill out, but he's not there yet.  He is very versatile however.  He blocks well and catches the ball well.  LSU's coaches offered him immediately after seeing him first hand at camp this summer.  You can see why the coaches like him.  If he fills out some more and lowers his pad level, he could be a Joseph Addai / Rondell Mealey type of runner.  With three running backs in the Class of 2010 and three already committed for the Class of 2011, someone will likely be changing positions.  Blue seems to be the most likely to do due to his versatility.  I wouldn't be surprised to eventually see him at wide receiver or at linebacker. 

Rivals:  #60 RB  3 stars
Scout:  #27 RB  3 stars
ESPN:  #55 RB  3 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Rondell Mealey

FB
Brandon Worle - LaGrange, GA:  As far as fullback prospects go, it's hard to imagine one much better than Worle.  He's a beast as a blocker.  As a ball carrier or receiver, he's athletic enough to be another weapon for the offense to utilize.  He's a straigh ahead runner and doens't waste time trying to juke defenders.  With the ball in his hands, he goes north/south in a hurry.  He's 6'1" 235 pounds with great balance and he loves contact.  With LSU needing a fullback to step up, Worle has an opportunity to play as a true freshman.  Like all high school fullbacks, he'll have to learn better technique as he simply can't steam roll defenders in the SEC like he did in high school.  I know Quinn Johnson was a damn good fullback for LSU, but Worle really reminds me of him. 

Rivals:  #5 FB  3 stars
Scout:  #5 FB  3 stars
ESPN:  #2 FB  3 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Quinn Johnson

WR
James Wright - Belle Chase HS:  Wright (pictured) may be one of the more underrated players in the nation.  Wright has good size at 6'2" 185 pounds, and he has good speed though not blazing.  He has everything you want in a receiver.  He is very strong.  He runs good routes and gets open.  He has good hands and uses his hands to catch passes.  He plays the ball well in the air and doesn't seem to have trouble catching balls in traffic.  He's also comfortable running routes in the middle of the field.  He has good moves and ability to get yards after the catch.  Though he doesn't have 4.4 speed, he can get open deep.  Lastly, he also prides himself on his blocking ability, and that may enable him to see the field as a freshman for LSU.  Though not quite as big as Dwayne Bowe, Wright plays the game like Bowe.  Wright has been one of the most productive wide receivers in the state of Louisiana over the past two seasons.  I think Wright is a good one and will carry on LSU's tradition of producing big-time big wide receivers. 

Rivals:  #42 WR  4 stars
Scout:  #44 WR  #293 overall  4 stars
ESPN:  #45 WR  3 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Dwayne Bowe








Armand Williams - Slidell HS:  Williams 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 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.  LSU didn't offer Williams until a week before signing day, and due to his athleticism he's a good guy to take a flier on.  Williams looks like a solid pick up and he has the potential to be a difference maker at the SEC level.   He reminds me of Georgia's Mohammed Massaquoi who graduated a couple of years ago.  He was very raw as a freshman and progressively improved into an All-SEC receiver and NFL draft pick. 

Rivals:  #98 WR  3 stars
Scout:  #208 WR  2 stars
ESPN:  #71 WR  3 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Mohammed Massaquoi  (UGA  2008)











Kadron Boone - Ocala, FL:  Boone  joined up with LSU on National Signing Day.  The stars aligned for LSU with Boone.  Boone was a Texas Tech commitment but began to reconsider when head coach Mike Leach was fired.  Around the same time, LSU hired receivers coach Billy Gonzales away from Florida.  Gonzales was familiar with Boone from his time in the state of Florida.  Boone is 6'1" 190 pounds and has very good speed.  From a pure speed standpoint, he's probably the fastest of the receivers LSU signed this year.  Boone uses that speed to get open deep pretty consistently.  His frame is filled out, and he looks physically ready to play college football right now.  With the exception of out running defenders, Boone isn't super after the catch.  I think he'll be a very capable and consistent producer for LSU during his career.  That consistency reminds me of former Tiger Craig Davis. 

Rivals:  #12 WR  #105 overall  4 stars
Scout:  #15 WR  #103 overall  4 stars
ESPN:  #15 WR  #95 overall  4 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Craig Davis







Jarrett Fobbs - Huntington HS:  Fobbs is a tremendous all around athlete who LSU stole from Texas A&M the night before signing day.  Fobbs doesn't have great size at 5'11" 180 pounds, but he has speed and can be used in a number of different ways on offense.  He's very good after the catch.  He was equally good in high school both as a receiver and a running back.  Despite his lack of size, Fobbs is pretty polished as a receiver.  He runs good routes and plays the ball well in the air.  I think Fobbs could be a very good player on offense for LSU.  My personal opinion is that Fobbs has the skill set to really be special as a corner back; however, Fobbs is adamant about playing offense in college. 
Rivals:  #28 ATH  4 stars
Scout:  #50 WR  3 stars
ESPN:  #85 ATH  3 stars
Reminds Me Of: 







TE
Travis Dickson - Ocean Springs, MS:  It's easy to compare Dickson to his older brother, but the two are awfully similar.  Travis has a similar build at 6'3" 235 pounds.  Some schools recruited  Dickson as a defensive end, but he looks much more natural playing tight-end to me.  He's very physical as a blocker and that will only improve as he adds weight in college.  He also looks very natural running routes and catching the football.  He looks more like a big wide receiver once he gets into his route.  If he can improve on anything, it's blocking in space.  He looks fine coming off the line but he struggles trying to get a block on a linebacker or defensive back down the field. 

Rivals:  #13 TE  4 stars
Scout:  #37 DE  4 stars
ESPN:  #4 TE  #57 overall  4 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Richard Dickson

Nick Jacobs - Many HS:  Jacobs is an exceptional big athlete.  He's 6'5" and some recent reports have him up to 270 pounds.  He played in an offense in high school that didn't throw him the ball very much.  As a blocker, many scouts claim that Jacobs is a bit passive which prevents him from being great.  So while he's a big athletic guy, we haven't seen him excel as either a receiver or a blocker.  Jacobs will need to develop some consistency and intensity in order to get on the field at the next level.  He seems to have the natural frame and skills to play defensive end in college, or he could even grow into an offensive tackle.  In short, LSU is getting a very unique athlete for a guy 270 pounds that could contribute at a number of positions.  As a very athletic big guy without a true position, he reminds me of former Tiger Stephen Peterman, but he'll need some work to develop Peterman's mean streak. 

Rivals:  #32 TE  3 stars
Scout:  #10 TE  #277 overall  4 stars
ESPN:  #46 TE  3 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Stephen Peterman

OL
Elliott Porter - Shaw HS:  Porter has been a defensive tackle for his entire high school career, but LSU tried him out at offensive guard at camp and offered him there.  Prior to that, Porter had offers from Florida State, Nebraska, and Stanford as a defensive tackle.  Porter is listed at 6'4" 285 pounds.  He's probably quicker than most offensive guard prospects and should be good on the move and in space when getting past the line and to the linebackers.  It will likely take Porter a year or two to get bigger and acclimate to the offensive line, but he has the potential to be a multi-year starter for the Tigers. 

Rivals:  #24 OG  3 stars
Scout:  #35 DT  3 stars
ESPN:  #32 DT  3 stars

Evan Washington - Desoto, TX:  Washington is a very athletic offensive tackle prospect that has only played football for two seasons.  He grew up primarily playing basketball which has certainly helped his footwork.  He has good size at 6'5" 300 pounds and the frame to grow even more.  He's very light on his feet for such a big guy and carries his weight well.  Washington played in the Under Armor All-American game and did well against some of the nation's top prospects.  His athleticism reminds me a lot of current Tiger Josh Dworacyzk coming out of high school. 

Rivals:  #25 OT  #207 overall  4 stars
Scout:  #22 OT  #229 overall  4 stars
ESPN:  #12 OT  #139 overall  4 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Josh Dworacyzk

Cameron Fordham - Duluth, GA:  Fordham is another very interesting prospect.  He is very athletic for his size at 6'4" 240 pounds, and he plays tight end in high school.  He looks like a very good tight end prospect; however, LSU is recruiting Fordham as a center.  I'm excited about having someone with Fordham's athleticism as a center but I'm concerned that he won't be able to put on enough weight to play offensive line in the SEC.  He's yet another guy that LSU offered after seeing hin in person at camp over the summer.  I have a hunch that he could find a home as LSU's third tight end in blocking situations around the goal line.  He could even become an oversized fullback, similar to Thomas Parsons in 2009. 

Rivals:  #37 TE  3 stars
Scout:  #7 C  3 stars
ESPN:  #24 TE  3 stars








DE
Houston Bates - St Pauls HS:  Bates is the classic "tweener" in that he's really a defensive end, but he currently has the size of a linebacker.  At just 6'2" 220 pounds, Bates has a lot of growing to do in order to play defensive end in the SEC.  So the logical question is whether he can play linebacker.  LSU worked him out as a linebacker at camp and felt comfortable offering him a scholarship.  There's even some talk of Bates playing fullback or an H-back type position on offense.  Bates is a serious football player though.  He's tough and he can really rush the quarterback.  He reminds me of Rahim Alem coming out of high school (but much more disciplined and a bit smaller).  Alem was able to put on enough weight to be a defensive lineman, but I'm not sure if Bates can do the same.  If he doesn't make it as a linebacker, I think he can find a home as a situational rush end for the Tigers or somewhere on offense. 

Rivals: unranked  3 stars
Scout:  #69 DE  3 stars
ESPN:  #65 DE  3 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Rahim Alem








Jordan Allen - West Monroe HS:  Allen is a big strongside defensive end that is highly thought of by all of the recruiting sites.  He also had offers from several big time schools such as Alabama and Georgia.  Allen is 6'5" 250 pounds with a huge wing span and has the frame to fill out even more.  He moves well for a guy that size, though he's not considered a pash rushing defensive end.   He holds the point of attack very well and can get off blocks and make tackles.  In that sense, he reminds me of last year's signee Michael Brockers.  Some speculate that Allen will continue to fill out his frame and may ultimately play defensive tackle or even offensive tackle.  He'll start his career as a defensive end though. 

Rivals:  #10 Strongside DE  #119 overall  4 stars
Scout:  #16 DE  #116 overall  4 stars
ESPN:  #22 DE  4 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Michael Brockers


Ken Adams - Enterprise, AL:  Adams is originally form Alabama but attended Junior College in Mississippi for two years.  He has great size for a defensive end at 6'5" 245 pounds and is an all around player.  He has enough speed and athleticism to rush the passer but is strong enough to hold up against the run.  The good thing about Adams is that he has already signed his letter of intent and is enrolled at LSU for the spring semester.  He'll be able to participate in spring practice and get a head start on earning playing time for next year.   Adams reminds me of another defensive end from Alabama in Melvin Oliver. 

Rivals:  3 stars
Scout:  3 stars
ESPN:  3 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Melvin Oliver 

Ego Ferguson - Frederick, MD:  In the biggest surprise of signing day for LSU fans, Ego Ferguson chose LSU over Miami, Florida State, Notre Dame, and Cal.  He had offers from just about every school in the nation.  At 6'3" 270 pounds, Ferguson is a big defensive lineman who can either be a strong side defensive end or a defensive tackle.  He's very strong and stands his ground at the line of scrimmage.  He's also explosive enough to get around an offensive tackle and get to the quarterback.  I mentioned in my 2009 Season In Review that LSU was struggling due to a lack of quality linemen.  You can't have enough guys like Ego Ferguson on your team.  As a guy who is athletic enough to play either defensive end or tackle, he reminds me of Ricky Jean-Francois. 

Rivals:  #6 DE  #31 overall  4 stars
Scout:  #7 DT  #78 overall  4 stars
ESPN:  #14 DT  #136 overall  4 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Ricky Jean-Francois


DT
J.C. Copeland - LaGrange, GA:  Copeland was an absolute steal on signing day for LSU.  A Tennessee commitment for quite some time, Copeland said he was signing with the Vols as late as Tuesday night.  But come Wednesday morning, Copeland decided to sign with LSU.  Despite what the recruiting services say about him, I think Copeland is an elite defensive tackle prospect.  Copeland is 6'1" 265 pounds and still growing.  He's very, very quick off the ball and looks athletic enough on film to be confused with a linebacker.  Many project him as a defensive end, but I think he'll play inside at tackle.  He routinely gets into the opponents' backfield and makes plays.  LSU needed help at defensive tackle in this class, and Copeland fills a big need.   His explosiveness reminds me of former Tiger Claude Wroten.  His film speaks for itself. 

Rivals:  #17 weakside DE  4 stars
Scout:  #43 DE  3 stars
ESPN:  #30 DE  4 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Claude Wroten





LB
DJ Welter - Notre Dame HS:  Welter is a very solid football player. He has good size at 6'1" 220 pounds but is not overpowering. He has good speed, but not great. He makes some plays but mostly doesn't make mistakes. He has good football instincts and is tough, but he has trouble shedding blocks at times. He's a solid football player and he's a guy you want on your football team, but it's tough to see him developing into an All-SEC Football player. He was very productive his senior season with 143 tackles, four sacks, and three forced fumbles.

Rivals:  #49 OLB 3 stars
Scout:  #87 OLB 3 stars
ESPN:  #48 OLB 3 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Jacob Cutrera





Justin Maclin - Memphis, TN:  Maclin (pictured) is a big outslide linebacker prospect at 6'4" 220 pounds.  Maclin is built like a stack of bricks and he runs very well for his size.  At a camp over the summer, several observers noted that Maclin was stiff and not very fluid.  He reportedly struggled a bit in coverage but was very strong around the line of scrimmage.  Since then, many have speculated that Maclin may ultimately end up as a defensive end.  He has the 6'4" frame that he can fill into, so it's certainly a possibility.  Maclin consistently states that LSU wants him at a linebacker, and I think that's where he'll start his career.  LSU's current middle linebacker, Kelvin Shephard, isn't the most fluid runner but he is an outstanding player.  I can see Maclin being a similar player. 

Rivals:  #20 DE 4 stars
Scout:  #19 OLB  #219 overall  4 stars
ESPN:  #15 DE  #146 overall  4 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Kelvin Shephard

Luke Muncie - Klein, TX:  Muncie is a high school safety that is going to play outside linebacker at LSU, and he's got a ton of potential.  He's 6'3" 215 pounds and has great speed.  He's also very good in coverage and could be a perfect fit for the undersized outside linebacker position that Harry Coleman played in 2009.  There's much to like about Muncie.  He's very comfortable playing in space and he's a solid open field tackler.  He's also a big hitter as you'll see in the video posted below.  He still has to adapt to playing close to the line of scrimmage and getting off blocks from offensive linemen.  He's not rated too high by the recruiting services, and I'm really not sure why.  He looks like a steal from the state of Texas to me. 

Rivals: #42 OLB  3 stars
Scout:  #35 OLB  3 stars
ESPN:  #26 S  3 stars 
Reminds Me Of:  Rennie Curran (Georgia 2009)











CB
Ronnie Vinson - Newman HS:  Vinson is a fantastic all around player that could succeed at a number of positions in college.  Vinson is great with the ball in his hands but he projects as a defensive back for LSU.  LSU wants him as a cornerback, and Vinson is built like one at 5'11" 185 pounds.  Vinson can change directions and accelerate quickly.  He is a difference maker, and I think he's a future multi-year starter for LSU.  He's also a great candidate to return punts.  His versatility reminds me of current Tiger Ron Brooks, but I think he'll make a bigger impact than Brooks has made so far. 

Rivals:  #13 ATH  #165 overall  4 stars
Scout:  #26 S  #275 overall  4 stars
ESPN:  #20 ATH  4 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Ron Brooks
Video:  Lots of videos here

Tyrann Mathieu - St. Augustine HS:  Mathieu was a relative unknown amongst recruiting circles until he made the rounds at camps over the summer.  He really performed well and made a name for himself.  Soon after, he shot up the rankings by the recruiting services and he earned an offer from LSU which he immediately accepted.  Mathieu doesn't have great size at just 5'10" 175 pounds, but his value comes from his ability to cover.  He played some offense in high school and excelled.  I really believe that if Mathieu were a couple of inches taller, he'd be a Top 100 type of recruit.  He is a guy that committed to LSU immediately after being offered, and I think guys like that will work hard and eventually make a positive impact on the program.  Mathieu still has some work to do academically before being eligible to enroll in the fall. 

Rivals:  #13 CB  #191 overall  4 stars
Scout:  #30 CB  3 stars
ESPN:  #36 CB  3 stars


S
Eric Reid - Dutchtown HS:  Reid is one of the best players in this signing class, and it seems like a certainty that he'll be a contributor for LSU.  He is a big safety at 6'2" 210 pounds and is a big hitter.  He also covers better than what you would think for a guy his size.  Reid participated in the U.S. Army All American game and earned very positive reviews for the job he did at practice.  John Chavis likes at least one small fast linebacker than can cover, and there's some discussion that Reid may grow into that role at LSU.  Reid could earn some playing time very early in his career, regardless of what position he settles into.   

Rivals:  #6 S  #90 overall  4 stars
Scout:  #4 S   #54 overall  4 stars
ESPN:  #7 S  #71 overall  4 stars
Reminds Me Of: Craig Steltz

Sam Gibson - Prattville, AL:  Gibson is an intriguing prospect because he projects at a position that he hasn't played much in high school.  He is a high school quarterback and a darn good one.  In fact, Kentucky offered Gibson as a quarterback.  He also excelled as a receiver at times in high school.  But as a 6'1" 200 pound athlete, Gibson will likely be a safety at LSU.  Gibson was offered after a strong performance at LSU's camp over the summer.  Without question, Gibson has the athleticism to be a big time player and I like the idea of having a former quarterback back there at safety.  Both Alabama and Auburn passed on Gibson who had offers from Stanford, Kentucky, and Virginia in addition to LSU. 

Rivals:  #43 ATH  3 stars
Scout:  #40 S  3 stars
ESPN:    #98 ATH  3 stars




ATH
Tharold Simon - Eunice HS:  Simon is one of the most interesting players in this class.  He has good size at 6'4" 180 pounds.  He plays both safety and receiver in high school and really excels at both.  It's up for debate as to where he'll play at LSU, but the word is that LSU likes him as a defensive back.  Personally, I like him better as a receiver.  Simon doesn't have blazing speed, but he's fast enough to play in the SEC.  He shows good hands on his film and looks like a natural as a pass catcher.  As a safety, Simon loves contact.  He lays some big hits and looks best when running towards the line of scrimmage to either put a big lick on a receiver or take down a running back.  At 6'4", Simon is a little stiff in and out of his breaks but he has better range than you would think.  He reminds me of Miami receiver Laron Byrd who came out of Hahnville a couple of years ago.  Simon also needs some work academically in order to qualify. 

Rivals:  #19 ATH  #192 overall  4 stars
Scout:  #13 S  #129 overall  4 stars
ESPN:  #9 S  #91 overall  4 stars
Reminds Me Of:  Laron Byrd (Miami)

 

Saturday Night Slant - LSU Sports & Recruiting