Friday, December 14, 2012
LSU hopes reputation leads to big weekend
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE -- LSU already has a top 10 class, but this weekend the Tigers will be pitching to make it even better.
The Tigers will host a pair of ESPN 150 players on official visits with Maquedius Bain, a defensive tackle from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Priest Willis, a safety from Tempe, Ariz., both scheduled to be on campus this weekend.
LSU, already has a top 10 class. Adding Bain, the No. 43 player in the ESPN rankings, and Willis, ranked No. 50, would make the class even stronger.
And while both players come from outside LSU's prime recruiting area, both also play positions where LSU's reputation is strong. Willis, a safety who also plays cornerback, is attracted to the "DBU" reputation of LSU and has a long relationship with Tigers secondary coach Corey Raymond. Bain might have an eye on the Tigers' recent success with defensive lineman. If junior Bennie Logan leaves school and becomes a first-round draft pick, he'd be the second junior defensive tackle from LSU in as many years to get drafted in the first round after Michael Brockers.
LSU also has needs at both positions. The Tigers will likely lose All-American free safety Eric Reid, another junior early draft possibility, from a secondary which will have sent its top six players from the 2011 SEC championship team's secondary to the NFL if cornerback Tharold Simon leaves after this year.
Reid and Brandon Taylor, a third-round draft pick of the Chargers in 2012, were the safeties. Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu, who was kicked off LSU's team and has subsequently entered the 2013 draft, were the corners. Simon was the nickelback, and dime back Ron Brooks was a fourth-round pick of the Buffalo Bills.
That kind of attrition establishes a track record of success for LSU in producing NFL defensive backs. It also sends the signal out that there is an immediate need to replenish the stockpile. So far, the Tigers likely have only one true safety in its class in Kentwood, La.'s Jeremy Cutrer.
There's a similar story developing on the defensive line, which could have similar attrition, just all in the same year. Logan will likely be joined by junior ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo in the draft, and given that tackle Josh Downs and top reserve end Lavar Edwards are both seniors, LSU will likely lose five of the seven defensive linemen who played the majority of the snaps for the Tigers.
With Edwards likely joining the three juniors as a draft pick the year after Brockers went in the first round, Bain's perception of the Tigers' defensive line will be much like Willis' view of LSU's "DBU" secondary. The Tigers have a track record of sending players to the NFL and a need to replenish the position.
"When you think about defensive linemen, the first school that comes to mind is LSU because they are the best at developing the position," he told RecruitingNation this week.
LSU is banking on that reputation to help it complete a haul at both positions. There isn't an in-state player left on the board at either position that's considered to be the caliber of a Bain or a Willis. The Tigers will likely fill both needs with players from outside LSU's traditional recruiting sweet spot.