LSU Tigers: Jacory Washington

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Asked to describe how an ideal 2014 season might develop for his position group, LSU’s DeSean Smith sets a high bar for the tight ends to attempt to clear.

“I envision of course all of us playing, all of us rotating,” Smith said after Tuesday’s practice. “I see our tight ends with probably seven or eight catches a game -- at least -- just to make that big step now that we’re improving in practice and showing them we can catch and be their go-to targets. We have a great receiving corps, too, so I plan on a lot of people getting a lot of balls, but much more [at tight end] than we got last year.”

For those who expected LSU’s tight ends to receive heavy attention last fall in Year 1 under Cam Cameron -- a noted tight end enthusiast during his decade as an NFL offensive coordinator -- Smith’s projection probably seems comical.

[+] EnlargeCam Cameron
AP Photo/Jonathan BachmanLSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is known for getting the tight ends involved and that group expects to have a big role in the offense this season.
The Tigers had three tight ends (Smith, Dillon Gordon and Logan Stokes) play in all 13 games and Travis Dickson appeared in 12. But the four players combined for just 12 catches, 211 yards and zero touchdowns last season.

It wasn’t that the tight end didn’t play an active part in the offense, however, it’s that senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger had two of the nation’s most productive wide receivers in Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry and made full use of their abilities. With Beckham and Landry -- who combined for 136 catches and 2,345 yards last fall -- now chasing NFL dreams, the tight ends believe they will garner more attention from their quarterbacks.

“We had the two best receivers in the country -- that’s what I say, anyway -- and obviously we’re going to push the ball to those guys in game situations,” Stokes said. “But this year, we’re young across the board and we’re looking for playmakers. This spring, we’re starting to find them and some of those playmakers happen to be us.

“When they need us to make a play, DeSean’s made some great plays downfield and me and Dillon have made some nice plays, 10, 15 yards. We’ve had a couple of deep balls this year, too, so we’re definitely going to get more involved this year, I feel like.”

It doesn’t hurt their confidence in making such claims that Cameron has a proven track record of using the tight end. In 10 seasons as an NFL coordinator, his offenses frequently targeted players like Dennis Pitta, Todd Heap and Antonio Gates, who helped usher in a new era of athletic, pass-catching tight ends. Over that 10-year period, Cameron’s top tight end averaged 55 catches for 668 yards and six touchdowns per season.

Obviously it was exciting news to the group, then, that Cameron joined Les Miles’ coaching staff last February.

“First thing, my dad called and told me,” Smith recalled. “Right then, everybody in my family was talking about how he’s a tight end guy. That was pretty neat.”

Now it’s a matter of proving that the group deserves more of an opportunity. That has been a goal this spring, as blocking-oriented players like Stokes work on their pass-catching skills and receiving-oriented tight ends like Smith attempt to become better blockers.

If each member of the group proves he can excel in both areas, LSU’s offense becomes less predictable and more difficult to defend.

“Now when we play teams and we’re in the game, they can’t be like, ‘Oh they’re running the ball’ or ‘Oh they’re throwing the ball.’ Now we can kind of mix it up on people and they won’t know what’s going on,” Stokes said. “I feel like this year we’ve all been catching balls in the scrimmages and we’ve all been active in all aspects of the game.”

They’ll add another member to the group over the summer when signee Jacory Washington on campus. He’ll add another player in the hybrid, pass-catching role of a Smith, as Miles mentioned after a recent spring practice.

“We’ve used them in the past and I think that any time that you have a position that is used to block and he can also receive the ball, it makes a tremendous difference in your attack. And it’s another quality receiver,” Miles said. “I think both DeSean Smith and Jacory Washington will be guys that we’ll use in the fall.”

Since the tight end is involved in essentially every formation the Tigers utilize, expect to see plenty of them on the field this fall -- often two at a time. Whether the group’s reception total rises remains to be seen, but spring is always a time for optimism, and LSU’s tight ends fully believe that their time is coming.

“This year a lot of people have got big shoes to fill, so hopefully we’ll be able to see the tight ends step into that position of being the old tight ends you see in the Cam Cameron offense,” said Dickson, who led LSU’s tight ends with 109 yards on five catches last season. “There’s definitely more opportunities, as much as we use tight ends in our offense. As the season goes on and as a lot of us develop into our key roles, we’ll see what happens.”

LSU position groups to improve: No. 5

February, 10, 2014
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- With more than three weeks to go until LSU opens spring practice on March 7, we'll use some of the down time to review the Tigers' recruiting efforts in recent years and to preview the upcoming series of spring practices.

We begin today with the first installment in a series where we examine five position groups with room to improve. Today's first group is the tight ends.

[+] EnlargeJacory Washington
Courtesy of IntersportESPN 300 tight end Jacory Washington might need time to develop before he sees the field for the Tigers.
5. Tight end

Battling for No. 1: Based on offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's history, many expected LSU to make better use of the tight end as a receiving option in Cameron's first season with the Tigers. That was not to be, as the Tigers used the tight ends almost exclusively as blockers -- same as they had for the last few seasons -- while wideouts Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham contributed the vast majority of the catches and receiving yards. Rising senior tight end Travis Dickson ranked sixth on the team with 109 receiving yards, while rising junior Dillon Gordon (six catches, 88 yards) started 12 of 13 games. With Beckham, Landry and quarterback Zach Mettenberger departed for the NFL, it wouldn't be a big surprise to see the tight ends -- either Dickson, Gordon or one of the younger players on the roster -- play bigger roles as receivers in Year 2 under Cameron.

Strength in numbers: Then-freshman DeSean Smith (one catch, 14 yards) arrived at LSU with plenty of acclaim last year -- he was ESPN's No. 5 tight end and No. 141 overall prospect -- but was not ready to be a starter. He and junior college transfer Logan Stokes appeared in all 13 games, but Smith seems like the candidate to watch for extended playing time as he matures.

New on the scene: New signee Jacory Washington -- who is ranked No. 169 in the ESPN 300 and No. 5 tight end -- seems to have comparable upside to Smith. He could emerge as a receiving weapon in time but needs to add size and become a consistent blocker in order to earn playing time. With all of the key players back from last season, Washington will have to put together a great August to become an immediate contributor. But the athleticism that he and Smith bring to the position group might help the tight end become a more visible element in the passing game over the next couple of seasons.
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Capitalizing on one of the largest collections of premium in-state talent in recent memory, LSU wrapped up a dramatic national signing day by jumping to second in ESPN's class rankings.

Among the four previously uncommitted prospects who announced Wednesday that they would join the Tigers was Malachi Dupre, ESPN's top-rated wide receiver and the No. 17 overall prospect in the ESPN 300. He joins class headliner and No. 1 overall prospect, tailback Leonard Fournette, among 15 ESPN 300 honorees in the Tigers' class of 22 total players.

[+] EnlargeMalachi Dupre
ESPNMalachi Dupre, the nation's top-ranked receiver, gave LSU's recruiting class a big boost on national signing day.
“I think you'll like this group,” LSU coach Les Miles said at an afternoon news conference where he first discussed the 2014 class. “I think there's a number of elite players and guys that are good students. They're a very, very talented group and a very quality character group. So if you look at this class like I do, we ought to compete for a national title – or several.”

The class could grow by one should ESPN 300 defensive end Deondre Clark hold to his verbal commitment to the Tigers. LSU received Clark's signing paperwork on Wednesday afternoon, but has not officially announced his signing.

The Tigers still had a shot at the top three uncommitted players in the ESPN 300 -- cornerback Adoree' Jackson, defensive end Lorenzo Carter and Dupre -- as signing day approached, but Carter picked Georgia and Jackson USC on Wednesday.

Dupre flirted with multiple schools over the last few weeks, but he picked the home-state Tigers to become the third LSU signee who ranks first nationally at his position. LSU signed Fournette and No. 1 offensive guard Garrett Brumfield, plus inside linebacker Clifton Garrett, safety Jamal Adams and dual-threat quarterback Brandon Harris – all of whom rank second at their respective positions.

“All the schools that I had it down to, I had a good relationship with all the coaching staffs,” Dupre said on ESPNU's live broadcast of his announcement. “I just felt it was right to stay home and play football for the state of Louisiana and try to bring a national championship back to the state.”

His addition helped LSU claim its second-best class ranking since ESPN entered the recruiting business in 2006, trailing only the 2009 class that finished first nationally. The Tigers' class might have ranked even higher had it landed Carter, Jackson or any assortment of the top in-state prospects who signed with other programs, but LSU still made a splash on signing day with a number of late additions:

" Travonte Valentine, the No. 164 overall prospect and No. 11 defensive tackle, picked LSU over home-state Miami.

" Four-star defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao signed with LSU over Oregon.

" Three-star defensive end Sione Teuhema flipped from Texas after making a surprise visit to LSU last weekend. Teuhema's signing could make an even bigger impact, since his brother Maea, the No. 38 overall prospect and No. 2 offensive guard on the ESPN Junior 300, has long maintained that he will sign next year with the program Sione picked.

“When an opportunity allowed itself for us to continue to pursue them, we seized the moment. We're very fortunate to get that defensive end, Sione Teuhema, who's an outstanding prospect. And coincidentally there may be some other guys that may come,” LSU recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson said on the signing-day special that aired on LSU's website, humorously acknowledging that he is unable to publicly comment on Maea Teuhema's new commitment for 2015.

His signing in 2015 would be good timing for the Tigers with three seniors potentially starting on LSU's offensive line this fall -- perhaps one reason Miles said Wednesday that “we're going to have to have a great class next year on the offensive line.”

LSU also held onto at least one commitment from an ESPN 300 defensive end who wavered late in the process. Davon Godchaux signed with the Tigers after considering offers from Ole Miss and other suitors, while Clark seemingly picked LSU over home-state Oklahoma although the school has yet to confirm his signing.

That series of positive signing-day developments helped LSU's 2014 class appear to rank among Miles' best even when LSU missed out on several of the headliners from the deepest group of in-state standouts in years.

Louisiana produced 18 players ranked in the ESPN 300 and LSU signed nine: Fournette, Dupre, Harris, Brumfield, Godchaux, No. 3 receiver Trey Quinn, tight end Jacory Washington, outside linebacker Donnie Alexander and receiver D.J. Chark. Meanwhile, Alabama signed three of the state's top nine prospects (No. 3 overall prospect and top offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, safety Laurence Jones and receiver Cameron Sims), all of whom rank among ESPN's top 50 national products.

Speaking to the quality of this class of prospects, the state of Louisiana never had more than seven players ranked among ESPN's top 150 between 2006 and 2013. This year it had 11, including nine who ranked in the top 50.

Miles acknowledged that there were at least two in-state prospects who landed elsewhere despite being “coveted” by his coaching staff. He also insisted that this class leaves very little to be desired, even if LSU didn't dominate within the boundaries of its own state.

“You would have to think that with so much right here in the background of this organization … that people of this state just want to stay. I think that that's happening more than not, but occasionally, somebody's just got to get away. I don't necessarily agree with that, but some of those decisions are being made that way,” Miles said.

“The question is is LSU attractive to people in really every state. I think absolutely that's true,” he added. “I think the success that's been had over time here has made our uniform more recognizable. … I think LSU is becoming it, and has always been, but is becoming more marketable if you will.”

Three takeaways from Outback Bowl

January, 2, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Aside from notching a 10th win for four consecutive seasons, LSU's 21-14 win over Iowa in Wednesday's Outback Bowl didn't mean a great deal. However, it gave us a glimpse into the future -- one that will become a bit clearer over the next few days.

Let's examine three takeaways from the Tigers' bowl win and what the coming week might hold for the LSU program.

Next few days are huge: This is shaping up as a roller coaster couple of days for LSU's 2014 roster. It starts today with the Under Armour All-America Game, where the Tigers could wind up as the day's biggest winner. ESPN will air the all-star game at 4 p.m. ET, and LSU targets Leonard Fournette, Speedy Noil and Gerald Willis will announce their college decisions.

The biggest prize is tailback Fournette, whom ESPN rates as the nation's No. 1 overall prospect. LSU commits Garrett Brumfield, Brandon Harris and Jacory Washington are also competing in the game. The Tigers could make a huge jump from their current No. 12 spot in the ESPN's class rankings with a big day today.

Landing some combination of the elite prospects in today's all-star game will help absorb the roster hit that is almost certainly coming. Nobody officially announced a decision after Wednesday's game, but it seems likely that the Tigers will lose a number of underclassmen to the NFL draft. Receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, tailback Jeremy Hill, offensive tackle La'El Collins and defensive linemen Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson are all names to watch -- and their decisions should come shortly.

Defense made strides: This was a maddeningly inconsistent season for an LSU program that prides itself on stifling defense. But Wednesday's finale provided glimpses of what this group can be. Iowa totaled just 233 yards, went 6-for-19 on third down (1-for-9 in the first half) and twice tossed interceptions inside the LSU 10-yard line.

There were only two seniors among LSU's bowl starters -- linebacker Lamin Barrow and safety Craig Loston -- and we'll see what Johnson and Ferguson decide to do, but this defense will return the bulk of its two-deep, regardless. For a group that will finish the season ranked in the nation's top 20 in total defense (they were 21st entering the bowl game and end it by surrendering an average of 340.7 ypg), that seems like a sign that 2014 will be a big year for the defense.

Jennings has work to do: After his remarkable performance in leading LSU to a comeback win against Arkansas when Zach Mettenberger went down with an injury, expectations were high for first-time starting quarterback Anthony Jennings on Wednesday. Jennings played like a freshman against Iowa, though.

On an unusually cold, nasty day in Tampa, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron initially took the game out of Jennings' hands, calling 12 straight running plays to open the game. The freshman was mostly shaky once he started putting the ball in the air, finishing 7-for-19 for 82 yards and an interception (he also ran for a touchdown).

That wasn't terribly surprising against an Iowa defense that is considerably more effective than Arkansas', but it served notice that this will be an enormous offseason for Jennings -- particularly with Harris, the No. 58 overall prospect on the ESPN 300 and No. 3 dual-threat quarterback, planning to enroll this month and participate in spring practice.

UA jersey tour: Jacory Washington

September, 26, 2013
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Jacory WashingtonMiller Safrit/ESPNJacory Washington at the Under Armour combine in January.
Senior tight end Jacory Washington (Westlake, La./Westlake) was presented his honorary game jersey at his school Wednesday during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game. The event was part of the three-month selection tour for the Under Armour All-America Game.

Washington, an LSU commitment, is one of 90 players selected to compete in the seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game, a nationally televised all-star game spotlighting the country’s top high school seniors. The game is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

“First, giving honor to God, our lord and savior,” Washington said. “My family, friends and teammates. To a special set of trainers, personal coaches to my mentors to my high school coaches to the faculty and staff and to the student body at Westlake High School. As I put this jersey on, it is my only wish that it was a size 100XL. Although the words 'All-America' are written on it, it should say 'All-Americans' with an 'S' because I realize I would not be standing here without the support of all of you. It is because of your prayers, encouraging words, and love and unwavering support that I stand here today. And as I play in the 2014 All-America Game on January 2, 2014, know that although the name on the back of the jersey will read Washington … no one understands that I will be playing and representing each and everyone of you here today. To the Under Armour selection committee and American Family Insurance, thank you for selecting me as an Under Armour All-American and to have the honor to play in the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game.”

Westlake coach Shawn Demeritt says this is an award that speaks to the entire football program and community.

“It’s a big honor for this school. I think it’s a big representation of Westlake Ram football, our community, our administration and the great support we receive each and every Friday night. Once again, congratulations Jacory; you deserve it and we will all be pulling for you Jan. 2.”

Washington said talking to players that played in the game before him made selecting the Under Armour All-America Game an easy decision.

“To be an Under Armour All-America, it’s a blessing, man. It let me know that all my hard work is finally paying off. The Under Armour Game is real exciting. I talked to a couple of guys from last year, and they really liked it. They said it was a sight to see. I can’t wait to get out there, at Disney playing on ESPN. … I really want to get in that skills challenge, hopefully bring back that plaque. There’s a lot to look forward to,” Washington said.

The 6-foot-5, 211-pound Washington is the No. 163 prospect overall and the No. 6 tight end in the class. He committed to LSU over Texas A&M, Florida, Ole Miss, Michigan, Miami (Fla.) and several others.

Best SEC classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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Top to bottom, the Southeastern Conference is recruiting better than any conference in the country. Thirteen of 14 SEC schools are ranked in the top 40 of the recruiting rankings, including six schools ranked in the top 10. Here's a closer look at which SEC school has the top recruiting classes at each position.

Quarterback
Strongest class: Alabama
This is the hardest position to determine who has the strongest class. Four of the top-five quarterbacks in the final Elite 11 rankings -- Sean White (Auburn), Kyle Allen (Texas A&M), Will Grier (Florida) and Jacob Park (Georgia) -- are committed to SEC schools. Alabama, however has the top-ranked quarterback, David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North) in the ESPN 300. The Under Armour All-American is the 32nd-ranked player in the nation. At 6-foot-5, 241-pounds, Cornwell has a big-time arm and ideal size for the position.

Running back

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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: reasons for LSU fans to be patient, Ohio State's start, and Sonny Dykes reloading.


Patience is a virtue for LSU

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BATON ROUGE, La. -- A recruiting class that LSU fans are hoping will be historically significant has been coming together too slowly for many in Louisiana.

Before wide receiver Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) became the highest-ranked member of the 2014 ESPN 300 to commit to LSU on Saturday (Quinn is No. 37 overall and No. 3 among wide receivers), there was much consternation around the state about whether the Tigers would adequately secure what's arguably the most bountiful football prospect harvest the state has ever produced.

Forget finishing with a No. 1 class -- LSU entered this weekend outside the top 10 with a mere 13 commitments.

Trey Quinn
Gary Laney/ESPNWR Trey Quinn is one of six in-state ESPN 300 prospects to commit to LSU in the 2014 class.
If anything, the Quinn commitment should relax those concerns, at least a little.


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At LSU camp, elite get defined 

July, 24, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- ESPN 300 quarterback Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La./Parkway) told anyone who would listen that he would not attend last week's LSU July Elite camp.

But at the beginning of the week, there he was, exchanging chest bumps with ESPN 300 wide receiver Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) after the pair hooked up for a touchdown pass, then firing strikes to ESPN 300 athlete -- and LSU receiver target -- Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Karr).

[+] EnlargeBrandon Harris
Gary Laney/ESPN.comQuarterback Brandon Harris committed to LSU shortly after the team's July camp.
Three days later, Harris committed to LSU in an expected move after other schools on his list (Ohio State, Auburn) took commitments from other quarterbacks. Even if Harris' mind wasn't made up when he camped on that Monday morning, the assembled talent may have made it for him.


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LSU future power rankings 

June, 18, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Powered by its fertile recruiting ground, continued production of NFL talent and its dominant defense, LSU is No. 3 in the first college football future power rankings.

But are the Tigers destined to stay there? What could propel the Tigers even higher in the next three years? And what could cause them to stumble?

[+] EnlargeCam Cameron
AP Photo/Rob CarrThe success of Cam Cameron's new offense will play a big role in LSU's future success.
The Tigers will rise if: LSU will keep climbing if it can take advantage of an abundance of talent and a new offensive coordinator to turn around its sputtering offense.


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ESPN 300 analysis: LSU Tigers 

June, 17, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- It's been since Jordan Jefferson in 2008 that one could find a Louisiana quarterback who met the four-star threshold.

Back then, before RecruitingNation issued stars, Jefferson was given an 80 score, which translates to four stars.

Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La./Parkway) broke that drought this year. And now he's done something no Louisiana quarterback has done in the RecruitingNation era.


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Light start at LSU June camp 

June, 2, 2013
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Garrald McDowellTom Hauck for Student SportsDefensive tackle Garrald McDowell is expected to attend LSU's camp this week and compete for a Tigers offer he currently lacks.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Numbers at LSU's June camp were down a little bit as it began Sunday as many prospects had somewhere to be this week: school.

With many school systems -- in Texas and Florida in particular -- still in session, the pickings were slim as the camp started Sunday afternoon and scheduled to run through Wednesday.

That's not completely unexpected. LSU's second camp, scheduled for July 14-17, normally has been a larger draw that yields more recruiting news.

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Quiet weekend at LSU's picnic 

May, 28, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Sometimes a picnic is just a picnic.

LSU hosted its annual Bayou Picnic recruiting day Saturday, an invitation-only event targeting select high-profile recruiting targets. And while some recruits were on "commitment alert," the Tigers had not landed any new commitments by the time Memorial Day weekend ended.

That's not to say it wasn't a significant event in the recruiting process.


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BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU's spring game is usually a big recruiting weekend, and the 2013 version did not disappoint.

LSU hosted some of the biggest names in the country, landed an ESPN 150 commitment and continued to lay the foundation for 2015 by extending an offer to one of Louisiana's top players.

Here's a rundown of the day's highlights, from a recruiting standpoint.


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BATON ROUGE, La. -- GeauxTigerNation writer Gary Laney takes your questions:

Joe (Denham Springs, La.): Who are the big-name prospects coming to LSU's spring game?

Gary Laney: The spring game (2 p.m. Saturday) is always a big draw and we are working on figuring out the guest list.


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