Tuesday, March 5, 2013
2014 Recruiting preview: Linebackers
By Gary Laney
This is the fourth in a series looking at players LSU might target in the 2014 recruiting class. Previously, we looked at wide receivers and tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks, offensive linemen and defensive linemen.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU loaded up with linebackers in 2012, so 2013 was supposed to be a light year for linebacker recruiting.
But Melvin Jones, a hulking natural middle linebacker, was too good to pass up, Kendell Beckwith was one of the best players in the state and, at the end, the staff fell in love with Duke Riley's versatility. So in what was supposed to be a light year for linebacker recruiting, the Tigers wound up with three.
And there will be room for more for the Tigers, who will lose seniors Tahj Jones and Lamin Barrow after this season. Here are some candidates:
Donnie Alexander (New Orleans/Karr): We didn't know much about Alexander before LSU got a commitment from him last week. But what we've found out is he's a fast, versatile performer who is a good player to have in the era of spread offenses because of his ability to give you linebacker presence while being agile enough to be a factor in pass coverage.
At 205 pounds, he'll need to get bigger, even as a speed player. But with Alexander and Riley, one can see LSU drifting more towards smaller, faster outside linebackers.
Kenny Young (River Ridge, La./John Curtis): While Riley made the headlines by signing with LSU, Young was considered the best prospect among the linebackers on his team and is Louisiana's one linebacker on the ESPN Watch list.
A physical player, Young is an intimidating presence who can punish ballcarriers while having the speed to run sideline to sideline. He has a who's who offer sheet, so LSU will have to work to secure a commitment from him.
RaeJuan Marbley (Destrehan, La.): Marbley could be this year's Riley -- an undervalued and perhaps tad small in-state prospect who plays his way to an offer.
At 6-foot, Marbley is drawing some state school interest (Tulane has offered). But he's a physical tackler, not unlike Young, and after a good junior season, he should have room to keep improving. Keep in mind, as a sophomore, he was playing on the defensive line.
One might not expect an LSU offer to Marbley this spring, but watch for him at camps this summer and fall.
Clifton Garrett (Plainfield Ill./Plainfield South): Perhaps the most likely out-of-state prospect for the Tigers, Garrett is a Watch List prospect with the physicality to be an inside linebacker in the SEC.
He has a who's who offer sheet (Notre Dame, Nebraska, Florida and Oklahoma, among others), so LSU will have a lot of work to do to get him. But the year after LSU signed kids from the Los Angeles, Chicago and New York metro areas, the Tigers certainly won't be shy about targeting big names out of their comfort zone.
Petera Wilson (Memphis, Tenn./White Station): LSU landed defensive end Frank Herron from Memphis in 2013 and is trying to strike gold again in the Memphis area with Wilson, an ESPN Watch List prospect who, like Garrett, has an impressive list of national offers from schools like Michigan, USC and Alabama.