Tuesday, February 12, 2013
LSU can fill (almost) every '14 need locally
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE, La. -- There's a perception in Louisiana that as long as LSU puts a recruiting fence around the state, so to speak, the Tigers will have a top 10-15 team annually.
There is truth to this notion, but also some exaggeration.
In most years, there are positions where LSU might feel compelled to leave the state to fill the need.
So that makes the 2014 class that much more remarkable.
Save quarterback, one can find major prospects in Louisiana at every position. This is a year when LSU can sign a great class without leaving the state. Here's how:
Running back: Louisiana has produced great running backs over the years, so when serious football people say 2014 Watch List RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine) might be the best to ever come out of the state, it gets your attention. Blessed with size, speed, ball skills and a feel for the game that allows him to make it look easy, Fournette would be a perfect back in Les Miles' favored power style of offense and also would be a versatile enough threat as a receiver to be part of a Cam Cameron-style passing offense.
Sione Palelei (Gonzales, La./East Ascension) plays at the same high school that once sent Glenn Dorsey to LSU. A speed back, Palelei would be a big-play threat.
Wide receivers: While no receiver carries quite the resume of Fournette, people who know Louisiana football recruiting struggle to think of a year the state produced as many high-end receivers as it will have in 2014, with four receivers on the ESPN Watch List.
None have been more productive than Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe), who has a chance to become the leading receiver in high school football history after a 2,000-yard junior season, his third as a starter in the Bucs' pass-happy offense.
LSU lacks big receivers, but 2014 will give it a couple of big, in-state options. Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) is a 6-4 target with big-play ability. He plays in a run-oriented high school offense, but those who have seen him at camps have been surprised by a better-than-expected feel for, and understanding of, the position.
He's one of two big receivers in the state, along with Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish), a rangy downfield target.
Devante "Speedy" Noil (New Orleans/Karr) is the fastest of the bunch. In a state that routinely produces some of the fastest players in college football, Noil could be the next Louisiana player known for pure explosive speed.
Offensive line: When massive Watch List tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La.) charges off the ball, defensive lines tend to collapse in front of him. That size and surprisingly quick feet have him on the short list of candidates to be the nation's top offensive lineman in 2014.
LSU already has a commitment from a 2014 Watch List lineman, guard Will Clapp (New Orleans/Brother Martin), the son of former LSU defensive tackle star Tommy Clapp. Watch List OT Garrett Brumfield (Baton Rouge, La./University) plays his high school ball on LSU's campus, but LSU will have to beat a long list of suitors for his services.
Defensive line: Watch List DE Gerald Willis III (New Orleans/Karr), the younger brother of Alabama safety Landon Collins, has a nice dilemma ahead of him. Already at 260 pounds, Willis could be a monster at defensive end, a hulking figure with surprising speed. Or, he could put on 20 pounds and be one of the quickest defensive tackles around.
Davon Godchaux (Plaquemine, La.) is more of a true end -- a tall, athletic player with a good motor.
Defensive back: Watch List member Laurence "Hootie" Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) is a the prototype safety Louisiana lacked in 2013, a 200-pounder who can run and punish ball carriers and receivers. LSU will have a need at safety after this season, so Jones could be a priority recruit.
Tight end: After nabbing DeSean Smith in 2013, LSU landed another commit from a versatile tight end for 2014 when Watch List member Jacory Washington (Westlake, La.) pledged to the Tigers after LSU's first junior day. Like Smith, he's a threat in the passing game.
Linebacker: Kenny Young (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) played next to 2013 LSU recruit Duke Riley at Curtis, and many believe Young, a 2014 Watch List member, is the better prospect.
Just down the road from Curtis, RaeJuan Marbley (Destrehan, La.) is another physical tackling machine.
Quarterback: Louisiana has a long history of great quarterbacks, but it has had a dry spell of late. Quarterback is the one area where Louisiana has no names on the 2014 Watch List.
The state is not, however, void of intriguing prospects.
Quentin Gibson (Marrero/Archbishop Shaw) is a prolific passer with a strong arm. Donovan Isom (Destrehan, La.) was the only 2014 quarterback to attend LSU's first junior day.