Tuesday, December 11, 2012
What's next for LSU after RSJ decision?
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE, La. -- With Ricky Seals-Jones making his pledge to Texas A&M Monday morning, LSU missed on a much-desired 2013 recruiting target and was perhaps left with a hole in its recruiting class after the Tigers parted ways with former commit Chuck Baker last week.
Where is LSU left at wide receiver without Seals-Jones? Let's take a look.
What's left after 2012: Almost everything.
LSU receivers caught 150 passes in the regular season, and the players who accounted for 144 of those catches will likely return. Only senior Russell Shepard, who only had six catches this season, will part ways.
And don't expect any early draft departures. The Tigers' two leading receivers, Jarvis Landry (who led in receptions with 52) and Odell Beckham Jr. (who led in receiving yards with 673) are both true sophomores and can't leave. Juniors Kadron Boone and James Wright both figure to return for their senior years after providing modest production this year.
There were underclassmen who struggled to find their way to the field who might feel compelled to transfer, but LSU would be replacing lower-end depth and not necessarily anybody who figured to play.
Avery Johnson will arrive in Baton Rouge next season after spending this past one at Hargrave (Va.) Academy.
What's coming: The Tigers have three committed recruits who figure to play wide receiver.
The most notable will be junior college transfer Quantavius Leslie, a tall (6-foot-3), lanky target who will give LSU the big receiver it lacked this year. Leslie, a Georgia native, was a deep threat this season for Hinds (Miss.) Community College, catching 24 passes for 517 yards and seven touchdowns.
On a team lacking size at receiver -- none of the top five main receivers this season were taller than 6-2 -- Leslie's length will be a welcome addition to the receivers.
Avery Johnson, the younger brother of former LSU star Patrick Peterson, was a member of last year's signing class who had to spend a year at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia to become academically eligible. A four-star prospect with nice size (6-2), Johnson could play right away.
After leading Monroe (La.) Neville to the Class 4A finals two years in a row (winning one) as a quarterback, John Diarse's future at LSU appears to be as a wide receiver. While he is not exceptionally tall at 6-foot, Diarse is athletic and strong (210 pounds) and showed a knack for the position while playing 7-on-7 this summer.
Don't be surprised if tight end commit Desean Smith gets used as a receiver hybrid after he showed remarkable agility and ball skills in that role in high school.
What's out there: Just because they lost out on Seals-Jones doesn't mean the Tigers are done recruiting wide receivers.
Courtney Gardner, a highly-regarded junior college receiver from Sierra College in California who was once committed to Oklahoma, made an official visit to LSU. He could give LSU immediate help at receiver in the class along with Leslie.
Another big, Texas-based receiver, Eldridge Massington, could enter the picture after his decommitment from USC and there are other uncommitted receivers out there -- even the top-ranked Laquon Treadwell, who have LSU offers. Those might be longshots.
If those angles don't work out, don't be shocked if a late bloomer, like basketball convert Kevin Spears of Holy Cross High in New Orleans, becomes a player to watch as signing day approaches.