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Friday, March 29, 2013
GTN mailbag: Ronald Martin at safety?

By Gary Laney

Ronald Martin
Ronald Martin looks like LSU's starting strong safety, but the Tigers coaches are excited about a couple of their options at the position.
GeauxTigerNation writer Gary Laney takes your questions.

From: Will (Florida): What do you think about Ronald Martin being the starting saftey?

Gary Laney: I like Martin. He's athletic. He seemed to give the Tigers solid snaps last year when he played, and he's a tough, physical player.

Right now, I'd say he's the starter, but I know the LSU coaches love Corey Thompson, the sophomore from the Houston area.

I think LSU is in pretty good shape there. Obviously, the Tigers will miss the intangibles Eric Reid brought, but I think there are a couple of guys who can physically handle that position well.

From: Mud Bug (Bonnet Carre Spillway): Has La'el Collins lived up to his five-star rating? Will he?

GL: I think this is the year where we decide that, in no small part because I think it's almost inevitable that Collins leaves for the NFL draft after this season.

I thought he was solid last year at guard and was particularly good as a lead blocker pulling in front of the ball carrier. This year, he'll likely be at left tackle, which was where he seemed destined to go from the beginning.

What's interesting about Collins, and most offensive linemen these days, is they are going to be harder to judge in the short window that top players stay in college. Offensive line is one of the positions where it's hardest for true freshmen to make a quick impact because of the learning curve and the chemistry that is needed with the player next to you.

More so than other positions, I don't think offensive linemen really hit their stride until their third year in the offense. It makes what Vadal Alexander did that much more impressive.

Anyway, this would be the year you'd expect Collins to "blow up" and have a huge, all-SEC kind of year. Then he'll be off to make money at the game, more than likely. If you get one all-SEC season out of a five-star prospect, would you consider that "living up" to the hype?

Brian (Houston): Tony Upchurch is a lesser-known guy around here, and I knew nothing about Sherieff Rhaheed before LSU took his commitment. What gives with LSU taking all these unknowns?

GL: First of all, LSU has to really like its talent. It's way too early in the recruiting process to gamble on guys who are reaches, especially with so much talent out there, particularly in-state.

Evaluating talent, and not necessarily going with conventional wisdom, is a big part of successful recruiting, in my opinion.

Having said that, there is still plenty of room in this class for LSU to eventually land all 12 Louisiana players currently on the ESPN Watch List, plus Tony Brown, Ed Paris and Devin Voorhies (the latter two already committed). That would be 15 Watch List players.