Thursday, June 13, 2013
LSU 10: Projecting the impact newcomers
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE, La. -- With LSU's summer semester under way, new players who graduated from their previous schools in May are on campus and taking part in summer workouts. The one exception is defensive back Rashard Robinson, who will use summer school to try to become academically eligible for the fall.
With eight newcomers having already enrolled in the spring semester and gone through spring practice, that means 18 new scholarship faces joined the program. Here are the 10 most likely to make a quick impact:
1. WR Quantavius Leslie (Hogansville, Ga./Hinds Community College): The tall deep threat LSU lacked at wide receiver last year, Leslie arrives at LSU with the expectation of playing a key role in the offense this fall. If he commands extra attention as a deep threat, that opens the middle of the field for slot receivers like Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry to thrive.
2. CB Tre'Davious White (Shreveport, La./Green Oaks): LSU loves the talent White brings to the field with his fluid hips, sprinter's speed and nose for the football. There have been whispers that he'll challenge to be one of the top three corners in the LSU rotation, possibly one of the two starters. Robinson's name also comes up in that regard, but he has to make it to campus first.
3. DT Greg Gilmore (Hope Mills, N.C./South View): With only four scholarship veteran defensive tackles on the roster, there is an obvious opportunity for a true freshman to earn a spot in the two-deep. While fellow rookie Christian LaCouture got a head start by enrolling in the spring, many think Gilmore is the most talented and game-ready option among the freshmen.
4. TE DeSean Smith (Lake Charles, La./Barbe): As much as offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has utilized versatile tight ends in his career (think Antonio Gates and Dennis Pitta in the NFL), Smith seems like a natural Cameron player. Few tight ends in the 2014 class can compete with Smith in terms of pure receiving skills.
5. Ath Jeryl Brazil (Loranger, La./Loranger): As the fastest high school football player in America last season, the national track champion at 60 meters (and the owner of the fastest 40-yard dash at The Opening last summer), the only question at LSU is how Brazil's speed should be utilized. We expect that early, special teams might be one outlet for his talent. If he ends up, as some suspect, at running back, he can be a terrific third-down option, even early. But he is listed on LSU's roster as a defensive back.
6. LB Kendell Beckwith (Jackson, La./East Feliciana): The highest-rated player in the class, Beckwith comes to a position where LSU has experience and depth, but it's going to be hard to keep his talents off the field. Physical and fast, Beckwith is likely to find an immediate role, the only question is where.
7. DE Frank Herron (Memphis, Tenn./Memphis Central): LSU loved his development late last season, and at a position which, like defensive tackle, is a little short on depth, Herron might be the true freshman in the best position to contend to be in the game-day rotation.
8. DB Rickey Jefferson (Destrehan, La./Destrehan): Safety is another area where LSU is thin on veterans, so there is an opportunity for a true freshman to see immediate action. Jefferson was originally thought of as a cornerback in the class, but when safety prospect Jeremy Cutrer (Kentwood, La./Jewel Sumner) did not meet NCAA initial eligibility requirements, Jefferson was seen as the best option to move inside to safety.
9. DE Tashawn Bower (Somerville, N.J./Immaculata): LSU celebrated on signing day when Bower flipped to the Tigers, and now we'll see if Bower makes a move for immediate playing time. While whispers have been about Herron, Bower also brings an impressive skill set to the position.
10. DT Maquedius Bain (Fort Lauderdale, Fla/University School of Nova South): The word "upside" gets tossed around a lot with Bain, who unselfishly helped his high school team by focusing on the offensive line -- an area of need -- in his senior season and is seen as a raw prospect at DT as a result. But if Bain proves to be a quick study, he has the physical talent to push for immediate playing time.