Wednesday, July 10, 2013
LSU July camp: Five storylines
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE, La. -- This time, the big dogs will come out.
After a relatively light June camp, LSU's July camp is expected to be star-studded, with top players from across the country expected to attend. In the past, it's been a good place for LSU to pick up a commitment or two or identify young players who later become top prospects.
Last year, LSU started a sensation when it offered rising eighth-grader Dylan Moses (Baton Rouge, La./University Laboratory). By the way, he is expected to attend again.
Here are five storylines for this year. It starts with a special teams camp on Saturday, continues with a team camp Sunday through Wednesday, then wraps up with a 7-on-7 camp Saturday.
1. Commitment watch: The July camp comes at a time when a lot of prospects are looking to wrap up the recruiting process before the start of their high schools' August practices. If they are inclined to get it done early, "early" ends once football season begins.
Brandon Harris, whose finalists are LSU, Auburn and Ohio State, says he will commit on July 18.
One prospect who will wrap up his process is ESPN 300 quarterback Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La. /Airline), who will decide between LSU, Auburn and Ohio State on July 18, the day after camp.
But he's not the only one.
There is speculation that several players will attend with the possibility of committing on their minds.
Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South), an ESPN 300 linebacker, is scheduled to attend and there's been buzz that he could commit. The same is true of ESPN 300 receiver Saeed Blacknall (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan).
In state, a lot of players thought to be leaning toward LSU could commit, including receiver Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe), defensive tackle Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington) and defensive end Davon Godchaux (Plaquimine, La./Plaquimine). All are members of the ESPN 300.
2. Underclass gets a look: A year ago, two players emerged onto the national spotlight during the July camp.
Quinn, noted for his prep production but met with skepticism as a prospect, turned heads with sub-4.4 times in the 40-yard dash, got open and made catches at receiver and found himself fast-tracked to an offer and an ascension up the recruiting charts.
And there was Moses, the eighth-grader who was so spectacular in his performance, he received the first of many scholarship offers.
This year, candidates include 2015 offensive lineman Garrett Thomas (Many, La./Many), a talented, 6-foot-6, 306-pound offensive tackle who could be one of the top players in a talented 2015 class. This could also be a breakout camp for 2016 quarterback Jon Randall Belton (West Monroe, La./West Monroe), who might be this year's Harris.
A year ago, Harris had yet to start his first game for Parkway, then blew up as a recruit after a huge junior season. Belton, who attends the same school as ESPN 300 offensive lineman Cameron Robinson, has been known in football circles as a talented up-and-comer, but he has yet to start a game for one of the state's premier programs.
He could become a star this fall for the Rebels, but his coming out could be this weekend in camp.
3. Star gazing: Plenty of top stars will be attending, even if they don't plan to commit.
Expect the nation's top-rated player, running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine) to make an appearance while the New Orleans Karr trio of ESPN 300 prospects -- wide receiver Speedy Noil, defensive lineman Gerald Willis III and LSU committed linebacker Donnie Alexander -- will also be in attendance.
Also expect to see the nation's top offensive lineman, Robinson.
4. An offer earned? Several players could earn a long-awaited offer. Cornerback Henre Toliver (Metairie, La./Archbishop Rummel) has an impressive offer sheet, but is looking for an LSU offer. The same story can be told of ESPN 300 defensive back Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, La./John Curtis).
Similarly, Louisville committed safety Michael Johnson (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic) is also expected to attend.
5. Is there a need?: LSU will host a Saturday special teams camp and it will be interesting to see if the Tigers offer a kicker after offering long snapper Blake Ferguson (Buford, Ga./Buford) in the June camp. The Tigers will likely start a walk-on at kicker this season.
It's a similar story at fullback. Raekwon McClellan (Biloxi, Miss./Biloxi) had an impressive June camp, but it was unclear at the time whether the Tigers wanted a fullback in this class. He'll camp again this week, and if LSU feels a need for a fullback, he could get an offer this weekend.