Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Southern Pigskin: 2011 NFL Draft Prospects in the SEC West


I've got a new piece up on Southern Pigskin which discusses the top NFL prospects in the SEC West for next year.  I think you'll enjoy the read.  Check it out here

Monday, April 26, 2010

Can't Make Fun of Ole Miss This Year; Recruiting Tidbits


First off, I apologize for not getting an update out since last Tuesday.  I simply haven't been able to get one done.  So I'm playing a little catch up today. 


LSU unexpectedly got swept this weekend by Ole Miss. Each game was close, and the Tigers battled hard. They simply came up a little short each time. The three losses take LSU out of the driver's seat, and maybe out of the car entirely, in their efforts to earn a National Top-8 seed. LSU now sits with an 11-7 SEC record and a 32-9 overall record. Arkansas leads the SEC West at 13-5 while South Carolina leads the SEC at 14-4.

LSU has another difficult series on the road at Florida this weekend. But after that, the schedule lightens up a bit, and the Tigers could make a run.

Getting swept at Ole Miss is not the end of the world, but the Tigers are going to have to really step up in order to get back into contention to host a Super Regional. Ole Miss had been struggling, and their backs were against the wall in the SEC race. They obviously responded well. LSU now has their backs against the wall, and we'll see how they respond against Florida. 

Incoming freshman safety / wide receiver Tharold Simon (pictured) has reportedly made a qualifying ACT score and will be academically cleared to enroll at LSU in the fall. Simon was one of the stars of LSU's signing class, and he was also one of the bigger academic question marks. It's great news to hear that he'll be in the mix this fall.
LSU hosted a surprise visitor over the weekend when Florida defensive tackle Tim Jernigan was on caompus. Rated the #1 DT and #2 overall player in nation according to Scout.com, Jernigan hails from Lake City, FL which is just west of Jacksonville.

A group of high profile Louisiana prospects participated in a 7-on-7 tournament in Tuscaloosa, AL over the weekend. The Louisiana team included prospects Odell Beckham, Jr., Ryan Byrd, Darren Kitchen, and quarterback Stevie Douglas. After a very strong showing at the Baton Rouge Nike camp last week, Beckham again impressed everyone in attendance. Some say that he was the best looking player at the entire event. Beckham may project better as a defensive back, but for now he maintains that he prefers receiver. At this point, it appears that Beckham could excel at either position.

Late last week, Texas defensive end Cedric Reed committed to Texas. LSU was recruiting Reed and even though Reed chose the Longhorns, his decision stands to benefit LSU. Texas plans to take just one defensive end in the Class of 2011 and with Reed on board, they won't be recruiting any others. Evangel High standout Jermauria Rasco has recently stated that LSU and Texas stood out as his leaders. Reed's decision should significantly help LSU's chances of signing Rasco. I suspect that Alabama will be a major player for Rasco as well before its all said and done. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baseball Rolls In Shreveport; Football Loses Two



LSU played Northwestern State in Shreveport on Tuesday night and rapped out 15 hits on the way to a 14-3 victory.  LSU took control of the game in the second inning with an Austin Nola home run and never looked back.  Nola was a single short of hitting for the cycle and his his third home run of the season.   Micah Gibbs, Wet Delatte, Johnny Dishon, and Tyler Hanover all had at least a pair of hits in the win. 

With Mikie Mahtook out of the lineup, Matt Gaudet played left field.  Wet Delatte started at third base while Grant Dozar was behind the plate and Micah Gibbs was the designated hitter.  Gibbs is now batting .414. 

Daniel Bradshaw started the game for the Tigers and pitched well.  He pitched five innings, struck our four, and allowed just one earned run.  It's good to see Bradshaw pitch well, and it would be nice if he could get back on track. 

LSU plays Northwestern State again Wednesday night at Alex Box stadium.  The Tigers are now 31-6 on the season. 


Tigerbait.com has reported that receiver Jhyrn Taylor and offensive lineman Thomas Parsons will not return to LSU's football team in 2010 due to medical reasons.  It's still rumored that offensive lineman Cordian Hagans may not return as well.  If Hagans is part of the attrition, then LSU will only be one scholarship over the limit if all the freshmen are eligible.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Little Help From My Friends


I do not have any real news to pass along today.  Instead, I'm going to solicit the help of my readers. 

I started the Saturday Night Slant just over one year ago, and I've seen the site grow faster than I could have imagined.  I've done that without any real campaign to spread the word, but the word just kind of spread.  The next thing I know, over 90 people are signed up to the e-mail service, the number of daily visitors has quadrupled, and I'm a national columnist for Southern Pigskin. 

But now...I want to spread it even more, and I need your help. 

The e-mail subscription service is one of the more popular ways to follow the Slant.  I realize that many of you forward the e-mails to others, and I fully support that.  However I'd like to ask you to encourage those that receive your forwards to sign up for the service themselves.   So by all means, forward THIS update to everyone imaginable.  

Why does that matter to me?  It lets me more easily quantify how many people are reading my stuff, and that information is necessary when I solicit potential sponsors. 

If you're signed up for the e-mail service, you may also want to follow the Slant via Facebook and Twitter.  While the e-mail updates are only once daily, the Facebook and Twitter pages are updated more frequently and you receive the information immediately.   You can hit the Facebook or Twitter icons on the right hand side of the screen or hit the About The Site link to learn more. 

If you're getting this update as a forward, I encourage you to go the site and check things out. 

As always, anyone is welcome to e-mail me at lsu.newsletter@gmail.com 

Lastly, I sincerely thank all of you, my readers, for the consistent support and encouragement. 


OK, I have a little bit to pass along.  Apparently, Mikie Mahtook has some kind of illness and won't play in either of the mid week games against Northwestern State.  He may not be ready for the weekend series against Ole Miss. 


In case you missed it, Georgia has dismissed redshirt freshman Zach Mettenberger from the football team for violation of team rules.  Mettenberger was competing with fellow redshirt freshman Aaron Murray for the starting job, and he really shined in the spring game.  The job now falls to Murray and veteran Logan Gray will be the backup. 


Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has committed to Florida.  So scracth him off LSU's list.  Driskel is a very good fit for Urban Meyer's offense.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Baseball Sweeps Bama; Nike Holds Camp at LSU



LSU earned a sweep against Alabama by capping off the weekend with a thrilling 14 inning victory on Sunday.  LSU battled back from a 5-3 deficit in the eighth inning to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth with a Grant Dozar single.  

Dozar was just getting started with his heroics at the plate.  But before that, Matty Ott (pictured) pitched his best game as an LSU Tiger, in my opinion.  Coach Maineri brought in Ott in the eighth inning where he gave up two runs.  But Ott pitched six more innings and was fantastic, giving up no more runs and no more hits.  When LSU needed him most in extra innings, he delivered in a big way. 

Then in the bottom of the 14th inning, Dozar lined a pitch over the right field wall for the game winner. 

Dozar has earned his place in the starting lineup in my opinion.  His average is up to .352 and has 15 RBIs in just 54 at bats.  That RBI to at-bat ratio is third among the team among starters, trailing only Blake Dean and Matt Gaudet. 

This weekend saw LSU's bats come alive on Friday and Saturday, and Blake Dean seems to be finding his swing after a recent slump.  Dean hit three home runs over the weekend.  Despite Dean's power numbers being a bit down thus far this year, he is still leading the team in RBIs and has a ridiculous .701 slugging percentage.  If he adds the home runs to his repertoire, then watch out. 

Micah Gibbs continued his hot hitting this week, raising his average all the way to .409.  Gibbs has the inside track on being a first team All-American.  Also making a bid for All-America honors is Mikie Mahtook, who is a legitimate five tool player.  Mahtook is up to .360 with 8 HRs, 31 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases.  And we all know he plays fantastic defense.   Leon Landry is in the conversation too.  His transformation from a year ago, when he struck out so much he ultimately found the bench, is remarkable.  Landry has the fewest strikeouts of the starters and is second on the team in hitting at .364. 

LSU is now 30-6 overall and 11-4 in the SEC.  They continue to trail Arkansas by one game in the SEC West and for the overall SEC lead.  The Tigers now enter the most critical stretch of the regular season.  They travel to Ole Miss and then Florida on back to back weekends.   The next game is against Northwestern State on Wednesday. 


Nike hosted a camp at LSU on Saturday, and a number of LSU commitments and prospects attended and showed their stuff. 

Catholic high school quarterback Zach Oliver earned MVP honors among the quarterbacks, a group that included Louisiana products Stevie Douglas from Clinton and Salmen HS's Daniel Sams.  I expect Oliver to eventually earn an LSU offer, probably at LSU's camp this summer if he attends. 

At running back, LSU commitments Jeremy Hill and Terrance Magee both attended and showed their stuff.  Hill drew rave reviews and continues to look the part of a college ready "big back".  Magee also impressed those in attendance.  I've got Magee and Hill ranked #s 8 and 9 respectively on my recently updated state rankings.  Lutcher high school sophomore Daniel Taylor made a name for himself.  Taylor is a smaller, scatback type that will receive plenty of attention in the Class of 2012. 

The star of the day, not surprisingly, was Lutcher high receiver Jarvis Landry (pictured), an LSU commitment.  Landry again showed off his precise route running, explosion out of his breaks, and sure hands.  Landry excelled at camps last summer, and he did so again on Saturday.  He earned MVP honors at receiver. 

A pair of Louisiana athletes worked at receiver and both did well.  Newman High's Odell Beckham apparently made some of the more impressive individual plays of the day.  St. Helena Central's Ryan Byrd also had a good day. Both Beckham and Byrd may end up playing defense at the next level, but they showed their versatility at this camp.  Ocean Springs, MS receiver Joe Morrow also impressed.  Beckham and Morrow hold LSU offers while Byrd has an offer from Ole Miss. 

On the offensive line, LSU commit Corey White attended and performed very well.  But the MVP honors for the offensive line went to Destrehan's Ethan Hutson.  Right now, Hutson only holds an offer from Tulane but after his performance on Saturday, he may get some more attention.   Also making his mark was giant sophomore Derek Edinburgh from Karr HS in New Orleans.  Edinburgh measured in at 6'7" 305 pounds. 

On the defensive line, St. Paul's defensive tackle Mickey Johnson stood out and earned MVP honors.  He earned remarks such as "unblockable", "explosive", and "technically sound".  This comes a couple weeks after Johnson performed well at the Miami Nike camp where he earned the title "best college prospect" among defensive linemen.  Johnson continues to pile up offers, and LSU is recruiting him very hard. 

Pensacola, FL defensive end D.J. Pettway attended and stood out.  Pettway has offers from Alabama, Florida State, LSU, and many others. 

At defensive back, Vandebilt Catholic's Daren Kitchen earned positive reviews for his work in coverage.  Kitchen currently has offers from Nebraska and Stanford, but I expect that we will see some more activity regarding him and LSU in the near future, especially if he attends one of LSU's camps this summer.  Houston's Nick Shepard, younger brother of Russell Shepard, also stood out with the defensive backs. 

ESPN has a pretty good recap of the camp on their site. 

Aside from the camp over the weekend, here are a couple of other recruiting notes to pass along:

Woodville, MS offensive lineman James Maiden continues to mention LSU among his leaders.  Maiden recently picked up an offer from USC, and he routinely mentions the short distance from Woodville to Baton Rouge (about 45 minutes) as being very important to him and his family.   He is also being recruited by Stanford and Vanderbilt and has offers from Ole Miss and Mississippi State. 

ESPN's Chris Mortenson mentioned on his Twitter account that West Monroe's Chuck Hunter could be a future first round draft pick.  Mortenson was promoting a recruiting site that he is involved in called PlayNextLevel.com.  The good news is that this site has some free film of Hunter's if you're interested.  Mortenson apparently likes what he sees of Hunter. 

Lastly, Tennessee defensive back Jabriel Washington has committed to Alabama.   LSU was his other finalist. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Some Football Notes...


Former LSU commitment for the Class of 2010, St. Paul's high school defensinve end / linebacker Houston Bates did not sign a letter of intent with LSU in February but instead agreed to accept a grayshirt and join LSU's team in the spring of 2011. 

Apparently, Bates was not too keen on the idea of grayshirting despite originally agreeing to do so. 

Earlier this week, Bates signed a letter of intent with the University of Illinois and will be playing football for them this fall. 

All things considered, it was probably the best thing for Bates and LSU.  Bates stands a better chance to see the field at Illinois while LSU frees up a scholarship for the Class of 2011, which is loaded with superior in-state talent. 

I've heard from a couple of places that LSU could be suffering a bit more attrition.  As I mentioned recently this is not only unexpected, but needed in order for LSU to get to 85 scholarships by the fall.  In addition to receiver John Williams, offensive lineman / fullback Thomas Parsons and offensive lineman Cordian Hagans may be leaving the team.  Parsons is rumored to have some medical issues while Hagans may be transferring.   None of these are official at this point. 

Big-10 Expansion Could Impact Everyone


The Big-10 conference has made waves and driven speculation when they announced they were going to explore the possibility of expanding the conference.  If they decide to expand, it may create a domino effect that drastically changes the college football landscape.  Why is the Big-10 looking to expand?  Why else?  Money of course.  

Currently, all conference members equally split all of the money earned by various revenue sources, most notably bowl game payouts and television contracts.  Included in that television money is revenue from the Big-10's own network.  The Big-10, which actually has 11 teams, would seemingly look to add one team to get to 12.  So in order for this expansion to make sense, a new school would have to increase the overall pool of money enough so that once it's divided by 12, it will be more than the members' current share when split by 11. 

One way to instantly increase revenue is to play a conference championship game.  The NCAA requires a conference to have 12 teams in order to play a conference championship game, and this is the primary reason the Big-10 is looking to expand.  In my opinion, a Big-10 Conference Championship Game would be a huge success.  The fan following of universities in the conference is second only to the SEC, and you would not see half-empty stadiums like you do at the ACC Championship Game.  I immediately think of several good regional venues for the game too.  The brand new Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, Soldier Field in Chicago, Ford Field in Detroit, or even Heinz Field in Pittsburgh would all be great places to host the game. 

Currently, the Big-10 ends their season the week before Thanksgiving.  Meanwhile, the rest of the college football world plays games on Thanksgiving weekend, and then again the following week in conference championship games.  So at the most critical point in the season, the Big-10 is ignored and forgotten.  A Big-10 Championship Game fixes that. 

The conference championship game is not the only way to increase profits, and you can bet that the Big-10 will do everything possible to maximize revenue.  The next most logical way to do that is to increase the television revenue, and the way to do that is to get the Big-10 Network into more households.  Adding a school that would bring the Big-10 into a major television market would be a priority.  For that reason, we've heard Rutgers and Syracuse mentioned as candidates since they would bring in the New York market.  We've also heard UCONN as a possibility since they could bring in the Boston market and really add value in basketball. 

This expansion wouldn't be a total money grab however.  The Big-10 has a very high opinion of their academic reputation, and they are very serious about maintaining it.  All universities in the Big-10 are members of the Association of American Universities (AAU), which the webstite defines as "an association of 62 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada."  While it's not necessarily mandatory for a school to be an AAU member in order to be considered, the Big-10 will certainly consider it as a factor. 

So who are they going to add?  It's all speculation right now, but that speculation starts with Notre Dame.  Notre Dame obviously exceeds any academic goals the Big-10 may have, and they would open up a national television market.  However, the motivation for Notre Dame to join a conference seems slim since they have their own national television deal and due to the fact they do not have to split their bowl payout with anyone else.  The Big-10 asked Notre Dame to join the conference in 1999, and they declined.  In December, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbick said that, "our strong preference is to remain the way we are."

Some early talk surrounded the University of Texas.  While not a geographical fit, Texas owns the most profitable athletic department in the nation.  Additionally they would open a ton of new television markets, and they are an AAU member.  Meanwhile, Texas thinks they are superior to their Big-12 brethern when it comes to academics and would welcome the improved reputation by rubbing elbows with other academically exclusive universities.   However, the rumors of adding Texas were short lived and seem to have died at this point. 

The University of Pittsburgh may make the most sense from a football standpoint and is the best geographical fit.  They are also an AAU member.  However, they don't open up any new television markets.  The Big-10 network is already in Pittsburgh due to the presence of Penn State.  Missouri is also a good geographic fit.  They are an AAU member.  And they bring the St. Louis television market.  Furthermore, the athletic director of Missouri has publicly stated that they would strongly consider a move.  I already mentioned Rutgers, Syracuse, and UCONN.   Of all those schools, only UCONN is not an AAU member. 

If one of the Big East teams is chosen, the Big East would have to respond by adding a team.  They'd most likely consider Memphis or Central Florida as possibilities.  If Missouri is chosen, then the Big-12 would have to respond with someone.  Perhaps they take a look at TCU.  Many speculate that Arkansas would be a candidate, but Arkansas makes more money in the SEC than they would in the Big-12, and I don't see them leaving even though they would be a great traditional and geographical fit.  If Notre Dame joins the Big-10, then the Big-10 schools all get rich and everyone else goes about their business. 

Recent talks are that the Big-10 may be looking to make an even bigger splash, one that would change college football as we know it.  They are apparently exploring the option of expanding to as many as 16 teams and forming college football's first super conference.  In one scenario, the Big-10 would raid the Big East and add Rutgers, Syracuse, Pitt, and UCONN.  In theory, Notre Dame would then be unable to refuse the invitation to be the Big-10's 16th team.   The Big East would essentially have to disband as far as football goes with only four remaining members left.  Would the ACC or SEC then try to snatch up West Virginia, Louisville, South Florida, or Cincinnati to form a Super Conference of their own?   Would current southern ACC teams such as Miami, Florida State, Georgia Tech or Clemson be willing to leave the ACC to join the SEC?  Would the SEC consider expanding west into Texas? 

Would the Big-10 consider raiding the ACC?  Maryland, Duke, North Carolina, and Boston College would bring in the Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Boston TV markets.  All but Boston College are AAU members.  Those schools would add a ton to Big-10 basketball as well. 

The possibilities are endless and speculating on all of them could take forever.  But it's apparent that the Big-10 is looking to a make a move.  The question is whether that move will shape the future of the Big-10....or all of college football.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Southern Pigskin Article; Baseball Notes



I've got a new piece up on Southern Pigskin regarding the hot start in recruiting for both LSU and Alabama. 

You can check it out here.


LSU defeated Tulane on Wednesday night by a score of 10-4.   Mikie Mahtook was the star of the game, going 3 for 4 with 1 HR and 3 RBI.   Tyler Hanover also had three hits, and every Tiger starter had at least one hit on the night. 

Joey Bourgeois started for the Tigers  and gave up three runs in his only inning of work.  LSU's pitching then settled down and only gave up one run for the rest of the night. 

LSU is now 27-6 and faces Alabama this weekend. 


In a bit of baseball recruiting news, Delino Deshields Jr. has committed to play baseball at LSU.   Deshields is the son of former Major Leaguer Delino Deshields. 

Deshields is a center fielder and is one of the top prospects in the nation. 

Deshields is expected to be drafted this June, and he's very open to going pro rather than attending college.  But if he comes to LSU, the Tigers may add a key contributor to next year's team.  Deshields is also a standout football player though he isn't expected to play football in college.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Revised State Recruiting Rankings; Baseball Loses Series at Auburn



I have revised my state recruiting rankings and shuffled a few players around.  A few people have asked me what criteria I use when ranking players.  I look at three things:

1) First, I watch highlight films and use my own eyes to determine how I think a prospect projects at the college level. 

2) I look at what schools have offered a prospect.  I'm not a professional talent scout or evaluator.  However, coaches of major college programs are.  So I put a lot of stock into what they think. 

3) Lastly, I take into consideration the recruiting services such as Rivals, Scout, and ESPN. 

Right now, my rankings only go up to #17; however, I have a watch list of other in-state prospects that are on the radar.  I've also added a list of offers for each prospect along with links to video where available.  It's still early in the recruiting process, and schools will be doing a great deal of evaluating during the spring period and the summer camp circuit.  We'll see a lot of new prospects emerge and a lot of new offers get issued. 

Here are the rankings


LSU ran into a very good hitting team and lost two games this weekend to Auburn.  On Friday, LSU had the game well in hand before the bullpen allowed Auburn to make it interesting in the end. 

On Saturday, Chris Matulis had his first poor outing of the season allowing six runs in five innings.  LSU was never able to recover even though they scored seven runs. 

Sunday saw a close game where Auburn got one more big hit than LSU. 

LSU is now second in the SEC West with an 8-4 record, one game behind Arkansas.  The Tigers play Tulane on Wednesday before hosting Alabama next weekend. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Commitment; Football and Baseball Notes



LSU picked up their 10th commitment of the Class of 2011 on Monday when Breaux Bridge defensive lineman Quentin Thomas gave his pledge to Les Miles.   Thomas is 6'4" and a very lean looking 260 pounds.  While most sites have him listed as a defensive tackle, Thomas stated that LSU wants him as a defensive end.

I've only seen a very small amount of film on Thomas, but he looks the part of a big, quick, strong defensive lineman.  He also had an offer from Texas A&M.

I've currently got him ranked #13 in my state rankings, but I hope to update those this week.


With spring football over, we won't hear much football news until the fall.  For the most part, no news is good news.  This is the time of year that I like to call "Jackass Season" when players are most likely to find trouble.

LSU will also suffer attrition this summer, in some form or fashion.  By my count, LSU will be at 91 scholarship players when all the freshman report in the fall.  However, LSU can only have 85 scholarship players on the team, so something will have to happen in order to make room for the freshmen.  That could mean that a current player leaves the team for some reason or that an incoming freshman fails to qualify academically.

It appears that the first domino to fall may be sophomore receiver John Williams who apparently has some medical issues that will prevent him from continuing his career.  I haven't heard any other possible names at this point.


LSU won the series against Georgia by taking two of three games, and they now sit atop the SEC standings with a 7-2 record, tied with South Carolina.  The Tigers are in great shape and with Anthony Ranaudo re-joining the team on a full-time basis, they are poised to start playing their best baseball of the season.

However, we're still going to see some changes this week.

First, Austin Ross is moving to the bullpen after suffering another poor outing on Saturday.  Similar to last year, Ross has shown that he can be awfully good but he just can't find any consistency.  It looks like the starting rotation will be Ranaudo on Fridays, Chris Matulis (pictured) on Saturdays, and Joey Bourgeois on Sundays.   Matulis continues to be one of the biggest surprises of the season.  He's now 5-0 with a 2.57 ERA.

We're also going to see a change at third base.  Neither Wet Delatte or Beau Didier were able to produce at the plate, so the coaches are going to give Kyle Koeneman a shot.  Koeneman came to LSU as a power hitting first baseman out of junior college.  He had some injury issues in the fall, and it looked like he was heading for a redshirt season.  I can only assume that he's been performing well at practice since he's earned an opportunity to win a starting job.  Grant Dozar may also be in the mix.  He started the Sunday game at third.

Unfortunately, left fielder Trey Watkins suffered a dislocated elbow on Friday night while diving for a ball.  His timetable is uncertain, but he'll be out for at least a month.  In the meantime, Johnny Dishon will play left field while Mikie Mahtook will bat leadoff.  Dishon is more than capable to fill in for Watkins.

LSU has Alcorn State on Tuesday night and Southern Miss at Zephyr Field on Wednesday night.  As of now, it's unclear how LSU will manage their pitching for these two mid-week games.


Saturday Night Slant - LSU Sports & Recruiting