<
>
Insider

2014 position preview: defensive backs

There might not be a more loaded talent pool for LSU to comb through next year than the nearby group of 2014 defensive backs. That's got to be welcome news for the Tigers' coaching staff, because just like their defensive line, the Tigers' 2012 secondary is bound to lose some starters.

Veterans like safety Eric Reid and cornerback Tharold Simon are more than likely going to be early casualties to next spring's NFL draft. Fellow junior Craig Loston is less of a threat to leave early, but anything is possible. In the same vein, it's possible we could see dismissed cornerback Tyrann Mathieu return to the team next fall, but it wouldn't be a smart bet.

Re-stocking the cupboard becomes a priority, and LSU is already well underway with three cornerbacks signed for 2013. But the talent stockpile is about to get a lot deeper, assuming the Tigers have any kind of success signing DB's. And here's a hint: they already have.

Commits

Devin Voorhies (Woodville, Miss/Wilkinson County): Voorhies is a do-everything talent for Woodville, where he excels at quarterback, wide receiver and safety. It's early, but he's considered one of Mississippi's top talents and likely projects as a safety at the next level. I met Voorhies earlier this season, and he's got some filling out to do in his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame, but the potential is there for another center fielder like Reid. It probably explains his placement on the ESPN Watch List.

Chris Hardeman (Houston, Texas/Alief Taylor): Mathieu might not ever return to LSU's football roster, but his contributions are sure to make an impact on LSU recruiting. Hardeman said when he committed in mid-July that the Tigers' coaching staff sold him hard on the Honey Badger role -- a havoc-wreaker who could double as both a blitzer and a cover corner. Hardeman is on the ESPN Watch List for the talent-rich state of Texas, which says good things about the type of talent the Tigers have lured.

Targets

Back to Texas, where the competition is sure to be fierce for an impressive trio of defensive backs -- all of which are looking hard at LSU.

Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen): Brown's offer sheet reads like a who's who of the nation's elite football programs. The guy holds 20 offers -- about 12 of those coming from BCS heavyweights -- at the halfway point of his junior season. Brown is well familiar with the LSU experience, as he's made plenty of summer trips for recruiting camps and workouts. The 6-foot, 179-pound cornerback has also made unofficial visits to Baton Rouge this fall for the games against Towson and South Carolina. All of these things seem to be good early indications for LSU.

Ed Paris (Arlington, Texas/Timberview): Another ESPN Watch List corner, like Brown, who is swimming in prestigious offers from across the nation. Paris checks in at a formidable 6-foot-2, 195-pounds for a cornerback -- reminiscent of the safety-like size of former standout Patrick Peterson. Like Brown, Paris has plenty of experience with Baton Rouge after summer visits, although he has not made it down to any games this season.

Brandon Simmons (Arlington, Texas/Timberview): How unfair for Timberview that two of the best defensive backs in the nation reside in the same secondary. Simmons plays safety despite listing at a smaller 6-foot, 170 pounds than his friend and teammate. It would basically be too good to be believed if LSU were to snag more than one of these guys, if any. But it has to be encouraging that the Tigers are on the minds' of three of the nation's elite this early in the process.

Laurence "Hootie" Jones (Monroe, La./Neville): Simply put, Jones is monstrous as a 6-foot-2, 208-pound junior. He plays cornerback for the Tigers, but could easily transition to safety if he needed to. As is often the case with top Louisiana players these days, LSU and Alabama seem like the teams to beat at the early stage of Jones' recruitment. That said, there will be plenty more schools to consider in the long run. It has to help that teammate and friend John Diarse is a current LSU commit with plans to enroll early this spring.