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Monday, July 8, 2013
GTN Mailbag: Any 'locks' for LSU?

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- GTN writer Gary Laney took your questions.

From Kolt (Baton Rouge): What are our chances of landing a No. 1 class?

Gary Laney: I've been asked that a lot and I have to say despite where it is right now -- ranked No. 7 in the ESPN class rankings -- I still have to say that LSU might still have the inside track.

LSU has eight ESPN 300 prospects already among its 11 commitments. This includes four in the top 150. By contrast, the current top-rated class, Michigan, has nine ESPN 300 commitments, all from the top 150.

What has the potential to shift this is LSU's favor is the fact that eight of the top 48 players in the ESPN 300 hail from Louisiana, starting with No. 1-ranked Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine). None of these eight is currently committed.

Let's say the Tigers, who have done a great job securing in-state talent during the Les Miles era and, really, going back to the Nick Saban era, get a lion's share (or should I say, a tiger's share?) of the those eight in-state guys. Currently, of the nine ESPN 300 commitments in Michigan's class, only one is in the top 48 (No. 2-ranked Jabrill Peppers).

So if LSU were to land, say, six of the eight in-state products in the top 48, that would push the Tigers to 10 of the top 150 and 14 in the ESPN 300 with six in the top 48. Those would be impressive numbers.

Given that the Tigers are also in the hunt for high-end, out-of-state prospects like cornerback Tony Brown of Beaumont, Texas/Ozen (No. 27), and possibly even Oxford, Ala., running back Racean Thomas (No. 35), LSU still has as much potential as any school to land a high-end class that's tough to match.

From: Mark (Louisiana): What uncommitted 2014 recruits would you consider "locks," if any? What percent chance do you think there is that Fournette ends up at LSU?

Gary Laney: When defensive end Deondre Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass) committed to the Tigers recently, I lost my easiest answer to your first question, because ever since the spring I thought it was just a matter of time before he pulled the trigger. That time has now passed.

I don't see another prospect quite as sure-fire as Clark was right now, though there are many LSU should feel pretty good about. Brown seems like a strong LSU lean. The Tigers have to like where they stand with the River Ridge, La. John Curtis duo of receiver Malachi Dupre (No. 29 in the ESPN 300) and four-star linebacker Kenny Young.

There are others in the top 150 that have named LSU among their leaders, and LSU appears to be the strongest candidate, like defensive tackle Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington) and quarterback (Bossier City, La./Parkway).

Do any of these guys qualify as "locks?" I wouldn't say that at this point.

As for Fournette, I've looked at this as mostly an LSU-Alabama battle with the percentages near 50-50. From an LSU perspective, I'm still right at that 50-50 mark with Fournette. I do give LSU an edge over Alabama at this point, but Fournette has often mentioned that he hasn't ruled out the rest of the country, either.

So I keep LSU's chances at around 50 percent: half Tigers, about 40-45 percent Alabama and about 5-10 percent "the field," given that other schools have the luxury of time to sway Fournette, who will not pick a school until the Under Armour Game in January.

From: Derrin (Plano, Texas): What cornerback not named Tony Brown is more likely to sign with LSU, Jalen Tabor or Nick Watkins?

GL: To answer your question directly, I'd lean toward Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne Catholic) over Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friesndship Collegiate Academy). But it isn't as simple as that.

Remember that LSU took ESPN 300 safety Edward Paris Jr. (Arlington, Texas/Mansfield Timberwiew) as a cornerback and another safety commit, John Battle IV (Hallandale, Fla./Hallandale), is also capable of covering from the corner position.

Also note that, if the Tigers clean up in their quest for top-end wide receivers -- top 150 prospects Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Karr), Dupre, Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) and Saeed Blacknall (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan) are all high on the Tigers, as is junior college prospect D'haquille Williams -- ESPN 300 receiver commit D.J. Chark (Alexandria, La./Alexandria) could be asked to move to cornerback.

Given that LSU also has a commitment from cornerback Chris Hardeman (Houston/Alief Taylor), it's possible that LSU could address its cornerback needs without adding a single player.