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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
LSU's signing day superlatives

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU’s 26-player recruiting class is signed, sealed and delivered.

Well, maybe.

We’ve yet to see where Priest Willis will go or whether Tevin Lawson will accept LSU’s grayshirt offer instead of choosing a conventional scholarship offer elsewhere. And, for that matter, there still might be a scholarship awaiting defensive back Jeremy Cutrer, who did not sign Wednesday because it was unclear whether he will qualify academically.

So, we’re not done with anything other than Wednesday. But what a Wednesday it was for the Tigers, who hauled in another top 10 class.

Here are some superlatives.

Best player: Linebacker Kendell Beckwith is the highest-rated player in the class. But when comes to intersecting ability with likely opportunity, the choice becomes defensive tackle Greg Gilmore.

Where Beckwith joins a crowded rotation of talented linebackers, Gilmore should contend for quick playing time and fast development into an elite college player.

Fastest player: Cornerback Jeryl Brazil is perhaps the fastest player in the 2013 recruiting class anywhere, not just at LSU. The fastest player at The Opening (4.32 40-yard dash) and the fastest high school 55-meter sprinter in the nation this year (with a recent 6.27 run at an indoor meet at LSU), Brazil will do nothing to hurt LSU’s reputation for being one of the nation’s fastest teams.

Strongest player: OG Fehoko Fanaika: A massive older player (three years out of high school), the 340-pound Fanaika is a powerhouse who could easily allow LSU to maintain its reputation as a power-running juggernaut.

Players most likely to see playing time early:
  1. Gilmore: See above.
  2. CB Tre’Davious White: The most highly-regarded of LSU’s pure cornerback commits, White will push the two Jalens (Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins) for starting time as a true freshman.
  3. WR Quantavius Leslie: LSU needs a big receiver and the 6-foot-4 Leslie meets that need. He’ll need to polish his game though. Leslie was not the leading receiver for his junior college and will need to be tougher and a better route runner to assure a role among a veteran group of receivers.
  4. TE Logan Stokes: Another junior college transfer, Stokes will likely battle with incumbent letterman Travis Dickson for the starting job.
  5. Brazil: With his speed, Brazil is likely to see early playing time somewhere, even if it’s just in niche roles, like on special teams, as LSU tries to take full advantage of his speed.
Need best addressed: At quarterback, LSU is landing two ESPN 300 picks in Anthony Jennings and Hayden Rettig. At a position where LSU has battled attrition and signing day heartbreaks over the years, bringing in two high-quality prospects should secure LSU’s future at the position, regardless of which one emerges as a starter.

Need not addressed: LSU doesn’t have a single safety lined up in a class that needed safeties, although the Tigers staff still has a possible an ace or two up its sleeve.

One might be Rickey Jefferson, a projected corner who has the size to slide down as a safety and the quick hips to cover slot receivers. Another might be Willis, the UCLA commit who did not sign Wednesday and could pick LSU before it’s all said and done.

And LSU still might land the talented Cutrer, whose high school coach needed four points on his ACT to meet NCAA initial eligibility requirements.

Sleeper: While some prospects have more polish, wide receiver Kevin Spears has all the tools. He’s tall, rangy and has great ball skills.

The only problem with Spears is he played just two years of high school football and said he only took it seriously for one. As he learns the game, the physical talent that made him a quick riser will stand out.

Coaching kudo: To defensive line coach Brick Haley, who played a pivotal role in helping the Tigers land a premium class of defensive linemen in a year where LSU desperately needed it.

He did it not only with the results of his work -- LSU might well have three defensive linemen drafted in the first round of the NFL draft -- but also by working the recruiting trail hard.