GeauxTigersNation's Gary Laney and David Helman discuss some pressing issues involving LSU athletics.
1) LSU missed on the top football players in Louisiana last year. Obviously, the Tigers don't want that to be a trend. Who would you say is the Louisiana player LSU must sign this year?
Gary Laney: The player in the state who best allows LSU to maintain its dominance up front is Tim Williams, the defensive end out of University Lab who's rated the state's No. 2 2013 prospect and the nation's No. 33 prospect. What I like about Williams is not only does he have the physical tools at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds with room to grow, he also has a knack for being disruptive.
This is a guy who, in two years of high school football, has 37.5 sacks. But, at the same time, our scouting report said he is inconsistent with his technique. That tells me he has play-making instincts, and once he develops technique, he could be a dominant SEC end.
The other thing about Williams is his proximity. Not only are you trying to "put the fence" around the state with Williams, you're putting it around your own campus. University Lab is literally on the LSU campus. You'd think the Tigers have to land the prospects coming out of there.
David Helman: Absolutely agree with Gary about the importance of landing Tim Williams. However, there are other high-profile players in the Baton Rouge area the Tigers need to focus on.
Kendell Beckwith, the state's top prospect, lives just 30 minutes north of Baton Rouge. Beckwith is being pursued by Alabama -- the same rival that secured a commitment from last year's top prospect, Landon Collins. The Tigers' coaching staff has made Beckwith a priority.
Beckwith's decision will probably come down to the weeks before national signing day, so there's a long way to go. But LSU would do well to sign him, both out of need for the OLB/DE prospect, and for appearance's sake.
2. Johnny Jones has hit the ground running on recruiting. He came to LSU with five scholarships to give and he's given three, landing two junior college transfers and an international high school prospect. How would you grade what he's done so far?
GL: If he pulls off a signing period miracle -- say, if Devonta Pollard surprises everybody and picks LSU -- I'd say it's not fair to judge the LSU basketball coach's recruiting until next year.
That considered, he's done well doing what's had to be done. Shane Hammink and Shavon Coleman were probably headed to LSU to play for Trent Johnson, and Jones did well to get them signed. Calvin Godfrey was a good find. But if you're signing Godfrey in November instead of an ESPN 100 guy, fans would likely gripe.
Jones has a new challenge now, apparently needing to find a replacement for Ralston Turner, who appears headed to North Carolina State as a transfer. Again, look for Jones to scramble for immediate help, but not necessarily a five-star type recruit.
DH: Considering the situation he inherited, I don't know how you can be anything but pleased with the job Jones has done. The 2012-13 season was probably always going to be rough after the departure of Hamilton combined with the graduation of Storm Warren.
But between holding onto the commitment of Malik Morgan and bringing in Coleman and Godfrey, it seems like Jones has done what he can to make sure LSU will at least be competitive next year. Having spoken with several notable recruits in the area, it certainly seems like Jones is doing his due diligence establishing a presence in Louisiana.
3. How far can the baseball team go in the post-season?
GL: Ty Ross' appendectomy really hurts because it compromises the identity of the team. LSU is not a great hitting club, but the Tigers have gotten the job done with timely hits, good pitching and great defense.
Losing Ross hurts because he's their third-leading hitter. But what hurts more with the loss of Ross is what he does behind the plate as a good defensive catcher. To make matters worse, Raph Rhymes has finally started hitting like a mortal. Remember, this was a Tigers team with modest team offensive numbers even with a guy batting .500 in the middle of the lineup.
Right now, I'd say LSU looks like a team that would be lucky to get past a super regional. With a healthy Ross and Rhymes back in a groove, it's an Omaha team.
DH: The Tigers' lineup was never going to power its way past the opposition -- they need the help of strong pitching. To have a hope of going deep into the summer, LSU had better hope the pitching lapses are an aberration and not a trend.