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Monday, July 22, 2013
For LSU, camp yields dividends

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- With so many of the state's top prospects on campus for the LSU July elite camp, it would have been a shame if the Tigers finished the week without any new commitments.

At week's end, three new 2014 prospects decided they wanted to be Tigers, starting with kicker Cameron Gamble (Flower Mound, Texas/Flower Mound) Saturday, continuing with three-star running back Sione Palelei (Gonzales, La./East Ascension) Wednesday, then concluding with the big prize of the week, ESPN 300 quarterback Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La./Parkway) on Thursday.

With the new commitments, LSU is up to 14 for the recruiting season, including nine in the ESPN 300.

Here were the week's highlights:

Harris chooses Tigers: You don't always need drama to make big news.

When Harris committed, he became the first of six Louisiana offensive players among the top 48 players in the ESPN 300 to pledge to the Tigers. Harris said he hoped he would begin a run of offensive player commitments.

If so, LSU can look forward to more good news from the likes of wide receivers Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis), Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Karr) and Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe), along with top prospect and top running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine) and top-rated offensive lineman Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe).

Could Harris' commitment lead to a big close of July?

Speed back shows shift?: The commitment of Palelei might show that LSU is ready to tweak its offensive approach.

He measured at a short 5-foot-9 at LSU's camp, but he's strong and fast and has the skill set of a back who gets to the edge and to catches passes out of the backfield. He's hardly the classic, downfield runner LSU is usually known to take, although LSU does like having at least one change-of-pace guy in the stable.

Palelei is one of those under-the-radar guys LSU is known to find, especially in state.

Speaking of...: LSU was high on several under-the-radar prospects.

The Tigers' staff extended an offer to 2014 cornerback/safety Santos Ramirez (Shreveport, La./Evangel), a player who was barely registering on recruiting radars before showing up and excelling at LSU's camp.

A couple of other lesser-known prospects impressed. Defensive tackle Freddie Booth-Lloyd (Cocoa, Fla./Cocoa) more than held his own with some of the top linemen in camp and might have played his way into serious LSU interest. A similar story can be told of Russell Gage (Baton Rouge, La./Redemptorist), who excelled at both receiver and cornerback during both the Elite camp and the 7-on-7.

One who got away: Sunday's commitment to Auburn by former Reserve East St. John star wide receiver D'haquille Williams, now at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, is one that stings a little bit for the Tigers.

The talented Williams is considered among the best junior college players in the country, regardless of position. He's a Louisiana native who was committed to LSU in May.

But if there's ever a year when LSU can afford to lose a talent like Williams, who at 6-3 and 210 pounds is a prototype big receiver, it's this year. With Dupre, Noil and Quinn, there's still a chance LSU can end up with, if not the best, at least one of the best receiver classes in the country.