Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2010 Signing Class Review

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. 

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

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

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

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: 

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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)


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