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Wednesday, February 6, 2013
LSU gets its signing day surprise

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU got its signing day surprise.

ESPN 150 defensive end Tashawn Bower flipped from Auburn, to Florida then LSU, sending his letter of intent to LSU late Wednesday morning.

Bower, the lone surprise in an LSU class that looked completed before lunch, capping a banner defensive line class for the Tigers, who are looking to replenish the position after losing two likely first-round NFL draft picks at defensive end (Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery) and possibly another at defensive tackle (Bennie Logan). It was an adventure with Bower, who was an Auburn commit, appeared to lean to Florida Wednesday morning, then ultimately picked LSU.

What is the impact of Bower’s decision?

What it means for LSU: The untested returning Tigers at defensive end will have a lot of competition. Bower, Frank Herron, Lewis Neal and Michael "MJ" Patterson might be in a position to compete with the likes of Jermauria Rasco, Danielle Hunter and Jordn Allen for playing time. That's good news for LSU, which needs some tough August competition at the position to make sure it has players capable of performing after the loss of four of the top five defensive ends, including two likely first-round NFL draft picks. Among the returning players, only Rasco saw meaningful snaps in 2012.

What it means for Florida and Auburn: It's a tough blow for Auburn, but it was cushioned by the signing of Carl Lawson, the nation's No. 2 player. It might be more of a blow to Florida, which has just one committed "true" defensive end in Jordan Sherit and was looking to add a second one in the class. The Gators thought they had Lawson, which makes losing him tougher.

Turning point: Bower's visit to LSU in late January opened some eyes. Despite that, he seemed committed to Florida Wednesday morning, then bristled at reports that he would become a Gator. Perhaps the leak hurt the Gators and helped the Tigers.

Suprise (scale of 1-5): 4. For LSU, all the talk was about Robert Nkemdiche. Bower was a little bit under the radar, given his commitment to Auburn status before Wednesday. It doesn't get a "5" because LSU was clearly in the picture after his visit.

Immediate impact (scale of 1-5): 4. There is an opportunity for a player of Bower's caliber to see playing time as a freshman, but he'll have to earn it in a derby that will include four veterans and four true freshmen.