Tuesday, December 4, 2012
After decommits, how might LSU proceed?
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE, La. -- When news came down last week that LSU had lost a pair of commitments from wide receiver Chuck Baker and fullback Kennard Swanson, it wasn't met with the angst from fans that one might think.
It wasn't long before the 4-star receiver and 3-star fullback parted ways that some were wondering how LSU would make room if all the star prospects who are considering LSU and still available -- including the nation's top two athletes in Ricky Seals-Jones and Kendell Beckwith -- want to come.
That doesn't seem to be an issue now.
With the two decommits leaving LSU with 23 in the class, plus the Tigers' ability to bring in about four early enrollees in January and have them count against the 2012 class, the Tigers can still add six players by signing day, enough where the speculation has gone from "How will LSU make room?" to "Will the Tigers use all their scholarships?"
Here are some approaches LSU might take:
1. Shoot for the stars
Recent decommits might cause LSU to go harder after Miami, Fla., defensive tackle Maquedius Bain.
LSU has a chance to try to close the deal on many of the nation's top uncommitted prospects, including Seals-Jones, Beckwith and perhaps longshots such as Robert Nkemdiche and Priest Willis. The Tigers could load up with as many of these big names as they can, not worry about position, and emphasize quality of athlete over position need for the rest of the class.
After all, LSU's current fullbacks do not include a player recruited to LSU as a scholarship fullback (J.C. Copeland was a recruited as a defensive lineman, then converted; backup Connor Neighbors came as a walk-on), showing LSU might not need to spend a scholarship on a fullback.
At wide receiver, LSU has addressed the position with junior college transfer Quantavius Leslie and ESPN 300 athlete John Diarse, who LSU projects as a college receiver. With most of the Tigers' receivers coming back, is it a must-fill spot, or can the Tigers let Baker's old spot slide and push hard for a Maquedius Bain, the four-star defensive tackle who has said he wants to visit? With Bain, LSU could have a bumper crop of defensive linemen to replace some quality departures.
2. Go to plan "B"
LSU lost two commitments from guys who committed early. Perhaps the Tigers could find players with similar skill sets who can replace what Baker and Swanson were bringing to the class.
It's interesting that during the last couple of weeks, we've started to hear of the emergence of wide receiver Kevin Spears (New Orleans/Holy Cross) and tight end-fullback Cethan Carter (Metairie, La./Archbishop Rummel), under-the-radar types who might fit the same roles the decommitted players fill.
At 6-foot-3, Spears is the same kind of big target as Baker. Of course, Seals-Jones is also a big target and in the event LSU got a commitment from Seals-Jones, who was the nation's top-rated receiver before getting his position changed to "athlete," that would likely fill the big receiver role.
The fullback spot is a little more tricky. They don't fall off trees and many high school programs, enamored with the spread, don't even use them, especially not the the extent LSU deploys Copeland, a junior.
Carter's emergence might be interesting. At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, he's big enough to play both tight end and fullback and he's part of a Rummel team that's playing for a state championship in Louisiana's highest enrollment class.
On the other hand, LSU could stay with what it has at the position and invite walk-ons that might fit in or look at the roster for players who might benefit from a move to fullback.
3. Use less than 29
The Tigers have six scholarships to give if they want to fill an apparent 29-scholarship limit, but it doesn't mean they need to use them all.
If LSU doesn't win the lottery with its remaining spots, Miles could keep a couple of scholarships in his hip pocket for a talented class next year.
Louisiana should have a bumper crop with three players -- running back Leonard Fournette, defensive back Laurence "Hootie" Jones and offensive tackle Cameron Robinson -- each solid candidates to be the top player in the country at their respective positions, if not the top player regardless of position.
On top of that, Louisiana will also have a banner year for wide receivers with Speedy Noil, Trey Quinn and Malachi Dupre all expected to be among the best in the country at the position.
It might be tempting for LSU to use less than 29 scholarships by February and leave plenty of room to aggressively seek out a deep 2014 class.