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Monday, March 4, 2013
2014 recruiting preview: Defensive line

By Gary Laney

Gerald Willis
Gerald Willis is thought to be the best defensive line prospect in Louisiana.
This is the fourth in a series of players that LSU might target in the 2014 recruiting class. Previously, we looked at wide receivers and tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks and offensive linemen.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- By signing day, defensive line coach Brick Haley had to feel like the star of the show for LSU.

When the Tigers got Tashawn Bower to flip from Auburn to LSU on signing day, it wrapped up a banner recruiting season for LSU on the defensive line, with seven new faces signed to help replenish an area hit hard by the NFL draft.

With the Tigers needing at least four more defensive linemen in the 2014 class, who might they target?

DE Gerald Willis (New Orleans/Karr): In a year where Louisiana is loaded with high-end talent, Willis is the lone defensive lineman from the Bayou state on the ESPN Watch List.

Willis is versatile enough where one might say he covers Louisiana at both end and tackle on the defensive line.

At around 260 pounds, Willis has the body type of a defensive tackle, but he remains agile enough to be effective at end. At either spot, he's a fierce competitor with a mean streak. Because of that, there's little doubt that he's an elite prospect. The only question is whether it will eventually be as a defensive end or a defensive tackle.

DE Davon Godchaux (Plaquemine, La.): More of a true end than Willis, Godchaux has a long, powerful body type, but perhaps needs the production to match.

He's the kind of player who can play himself into better offers by camping well this summer.

DT Garrald McDowell (Covington, La.): McDowell is a productive, high-energy player, but he brings questions about his physicality at a mere 6-foot-1, 244 pounds (his measurements from the Nike SPARQ Combine in New Orleans).

But he's a player with fantastic play-making instinct, so if it's determined that he can get to true SEC size, he might earn an LSU offer to go with his current Kansas State and Arkansas offers.

DE Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City, Okla./Douglass): The ESPN Watch List pick recently left his two home state powers, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State out of his top schools, which might bode well for LSU.

Clark is getting plenty of interest, so LSU will have its work cut out even with the Oklahoma schools supposedly out of the picture.

DE Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington): Thomas' reputation is as an end with explosive pass-rushing skills, talent that has landed him offers from Florida's big three of Miami, Florida State and Florida.

LSU had some success with defensive line talent out of Florida in 2013, landing defensive tackle Maquedius Bain. The Tigers hope to strike again in the same region with Thomas.