LSU Tigers: Nick Brossette

Instant-impact candidates at LSU

February, 9, 2015
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU’s 2014 recruiting class was important, not just because of the significant talent infusion that it provided, but also because of the numerous holes that the Tigers needed to fill.

A half-dozen signees from ESPN’s No. 2-rated class -- including Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams, Malachi Dupre and Davon Godchaux -- became instant-impact freshmen, and most of the 23-man class contributed in some capacity.

LSU’s newest crop of signees does not face the same pressure to make an immediate impact since the Tigers weren’t hit by the NFL draft as hard as they had been in recent years. That said, there are still several players in this class who seem likely to play right away.

Here is an early attempt at identifying some of those players:

Arden Key: LSU loses both of its starting defensive ends in Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco, and the candidates to replace them are largely unproven. The Tigers also need to bolster their pass rush after totaling just 19 sacks last fall. Enter Key, who LSU coach Les Miles described as a “pass-rush specialist” and who defensive line coach Ed Orgeron compared to former Tigers star Barkevious Mingo.

Miles and Orgeron both predicted on signing day that Key, ESPN’s No. 24 overall prospect and No. 6 defensive end, will immediately help address the Tigers’ needs at end.

“It’s the school that he always wanted to come to and you could just tell when he walked into Tiger Stadium, he’s a cat, he’s a Tiger, we’re glad to have him,” Orgeron said. “He’s quick-twitch, long levers. We expect him to play next year and we expect him to work very hard this spring and this summer to be ready.”

Tyron Johnson: Wide receiver was not a huge position of need in this class, but of course LSU still wanted Johnson. ESPN rated the New Orleans native as the top player in Louisiana as well as the No. 30 overall prospect and No. 3 wideout.

[+] EnlargeTyron Johnson
Miller Safrit/ESPNLSU has a deep WR corps, but ESPN 300 receiver Tyron Johnson could break into the rotation right away.
The Tigers have a ton of young receivers, but junior Travin Dural is the only one who has proven himself as a consistent contributor. Johnson should have a shot at jumping into the positional rotation right away.

“His signing sends a message to the state and to the rest of our young guys that if you’re best, you need to come to LSU, because frankly, we'll play you,” Miles said.

Cornerbacks: LSU has playing time available in the secondary following the departures of safety Ronald Martin and cornerbacks Jalen Collins and Rashard Robinson. A newcomer might not jump straight into the starting lineup, but it seems likely that at least one of them will see regular action. The question is which member of the group -- one of the nation’s best collections of defensive back signees -- will make the cut?

Kevin Toliver II, ESPN’s No. 10 overall prospect and only five-star signee in LSU’s class, seems like the safest bet since he is already enrolled and will participate in spring practice. But Donte Jackson also has star potential, and Miles said that the speedster might contribute as a return man and on offense.

Don’t forget about Xavier Lewis and Jeremy Cutrer, either. Cutrer was committed to LSU in 2013 but had to spend the last two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College when he failed to qualify. He’s exceptionally athletic, which could help him become an immediate contributor if he makes the grade and enrolls at LSU later this year.

“It’s a standard of excellence we look for at that position group,” LSU recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson said. “The guys that we went after fit the bill. We feel that they can come in and contribute very early. Patrick Peterson charged us with that problem in 2010 with a young Tharold Simon, Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid, and we’ve tried to hold that standard in recruiting at that position group.”

Running backs: Also the Tigers’ running backs coach, Wilson filled a major need by adding three players to his position group. LSU did not have a scholarship fullback on the roster after losing Connor Neighbors and Melvin Jones, so getting the versatile David Ducre (another early enrollee) was a coup.

Wilson also lost veterans Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee, leaving Fournette and Darrel Williams as his only scholarship tailbacks prior to signing day. In signing Derrius Guice and Nick Brossette, LSU added two of the state’s top prospects -- both of whom seem likely to help right away because of LSU’s tendency to rotate backs.

“We didn’t have any scholarship fullbacks, so we needed to address that need at that position group,” Wilson said. “And then we have two sophomores and bring in two freshmen [at tailback]. It gives us some leeway some next year where it’s not a position of demand in next year’s class.

“But we like where we’re at in that, only because it gives you quality depth and it’s not stacked. At times we’ve been as high as six, so four is a good number for us because the rotation becomes realistic.”

LSU position breakdown: Running back

January, 26, 2015
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Editor’s note: We broke down LSU’s need to improve at quarterback as part of our SEC blog’s positional series two weeks ago. This week on the LSU blog, we continue our position-by-position look at the 2015 Tigers.

Leonard Fournette did not live up to preseason Heisman Trophy buzz last fall, but he still set LSU’s freshman rushing record with 1,034 yards. Now, with seniors Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard working to earn NFL roster spots, Fournette is in position to become the Tigers’ feature back as a sophomore.

“I talked to Leonard and his mindset is very strong right now,” offensive lineman Vadal Alexander said on Jan. 16 after announcing his decision to return for his senior season. “He’s ready to go back to work. I talked to him actually today walking from class and he’s ready to go. We’re ready to make this offense explosive. Along with him and the whole offense, we’re ready to do big things.”

During his freshman season, Fournette displayed glimpses of the potential that made him ESPN’s top overall prospect in the 2014 recruiting class. His 264 all-purpose yards (including 143 rushing yards and a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown) in a bowl loss to Notre Dame made for one of the most dynamic performances in LSU postseason history, and his power running was the driving force in key SEC wins against Florida and Texas A&M.

If he and fellow sophomore Darrel Williams take a step forward like their former teammates expect, LSU’s running game should remain in good shape.

[+] EnlargeLeonard Fournette
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesLeonard Fournette will shoulder even more of the load for LSU in 2015 after an outstanding freshman season.
“I expect a lot out of those boys, especially with Leonard and Darrel,” ex-Tigers fullback Connor Neighbors said. “They probably could be the two best backs we’ve ever had. Leonard’s shown flashes of what he can do, and so has Darrel in some cases.

“But I know once Kenny and Terrence leave, Darrel’s role is going to expand. He’s a hell of a back just like Leonard is. He just has to wait his turn. It’s hard when your classmate is the same age and gets a little more playing time. I know how that feels. But once he steps up, it’s going to be great.”

Williams was the less-heralded prospect out of LSU’s 2014 running back signees but became a valuable reserve, particularly in short-yardage situations. Magee agreed with Neighbors’ assessment that Williams’ role should expand, partially because of LSU’s traditional philosophy of spreading around the carries and partially because of Williams’ ability to avoid fumbling.

“It’s always running back by committee here,” Magee said. “Since he’s been here, the biggest thing that I’ve seen about him, he does a great job of taking care of the ball. Since he’s been here, I can only remember him fumbling the ball twice. That plays a big part in playing running back -- you’ve got to take care of the ball. He does a great job in pass protection, so I think he’s going to find his way on the field very easily next year on third downs as well as first and second down.”

The biggest question surrounding the group will be depth. Neighbors and Melvin Jones are out of the picture, leaving John David Moore as the Tigers’ only player with game experience at fullback. And with Magee and Hilliard completing their eligibility, Fournette and Williams will be entrusted with helping verbal commits Derrius Guice and Nick Brossette get ready to play as freshmen.

“I know they’re going to bring in two great young freshmen and hopefully they can learn from Darrel and Leonard and be able to contribute to the team next year,” Magee said.

It helps that David Ducre, who can play fullback and tailback, is already on campus as an early enrollee. Perhaps he wasn’t as high-profile a prospect as LSU’s tailback commits, but LSU believes it got a steal in Ducre, whose versatility could make him an immediate weapon.

The most important figure will be Fournette, though. He should be the centerpiece of LSU’s offense in 2015, and based on his performances when LSU continuously fed him the ball in 2014, that should be a good thing for the Tigers.

BREAKDOWN

Returning players: TB: Leonard Fournette (187 carries, 1,034 yards, 10 TDs; 7 receptions, 127 yards; 1,786 all-purpose yards), Darrel Williams (64-302, 3 TDs; 6-63 receiving). FB: John David Moore (No carries).

Departed players: TB: Terrence Magee (112-571, 3 TDs; 17-171 receiving), Kenny Hilliard (90-447, 6 TDs; 4-35 receiving). FB: Connor Neighbors (No carries, 4-27 receiving), Melvin Jones (4-12; 5-22 receiving, TD).

Committed prospects: TB: Derrius Guice (No. 8 RB, No. 96 overall on ESPN 300, four stars), Nick Brossette (No. 12 RB, No. 121 overall, four stars). FB: David Ducre (No. 35 RB, four stars, early enrollee). ESPN lists Fournette's younger brother Lanard, who committed to LSU over the weekend, as a running back (No. 100 at the position, three stars), but it's possible that he will play receiver in college.

Outlook: This will be a young bunch with seniors Magee, Hilliard and Neighbors completing their eligibility. Fournette’s presence obviously solidifies the position, but the Tigers will enter the season with very little experience at fullback and only Fournette and Williams with on-field work at tailback. Ducre will get a leg up by participating in spring practice and tailback commits Guice and Brossette should have a chance to contribute as freshmen should they sign with the Tigers next month.

Early Offer: Brossette a beast 

April, 7, 2014
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: As the No. 37 player in the country and a top-five running back, Nick Brossette had nothing to prove at Sunday’s Nike Football Training Camp. But that didn’t stop the LSU commit from making the 4-hour drive from Baton Rouge, La., to compete. And, boy did he. But he wasn’t the only player from Louisiana to turn heads.

LSU lands top 2015 RB Brossette 

August, 27, 2013
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LSU got a big boost to its 2015 recruiting class late Monday night as top junior running back, Nick Brossette (Baton Rouge, La./University Lab), and cornerback Xavier Lewis (Laplace, La./East Saint John) verbally committed to LSU.

The 6-foot, 210-pound Brossette is the No. 16-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300 and chose the hometown team over offers from Auburn, Alabama, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Tennessee and others.

As a freshman Brossette rushed for over 1,500 yards and 29 touchdowns and followed that by rushing for over 2,100 yards and 44 touchdowns as a sophomore.

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Summer recruit wrap: LSU 

July, 23, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- With the spring/summer camp season winding down and August camp almost ready to start, here are 10 things we learned about LSU recruiting this summer.

Taking it slow

There was much optimism that with Louisiana enjoying arguably its strongest, deepest recruiting class since recruiting services started evaluating classes, LSU might not only finish with the nation's best class, the Tigers might run away and hide with it. That hasn't been the case as Louisiana's top seven players, included top target Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine). Remain uncommitted. The good news? LSU has nine ESPN 300 commitments already.

Harris becomes recruiter


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2015 ESPN 300 targets: LSU 

July, 16, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- With the release of the the ESPN 300 for 2015, it's easy to see that while LSU won't have quite as much access to local, high-end prospects as it does in the 2014 cycle. However, the Tigers can still put together an elite recruiting class with the bulk of its players coming from Louisiana. Here's an early look at who might be LSU's top targets.

Kevin Toliver
Derek Tyson/ESPNKevin Toliver, the brother of former LSU receiver Terrence Toliver, has the look of a prototype cornerback.
1. CB Kevin Toliver II (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian)
6-foot-1, 183 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 2

A cousin of former LSU wide receiversChris Toliver and LSU's first commitment in the 2015 class, Kevin is ideal for just the opposite role his cousin played. At 6-1, with long arms, fluid hips and exceptional speed, Toliver has the skill set to possibly be the most talented LSU cornerback prospect since Patrick Peterson, which is saying something considering the enormous talents the Tigers annually attract to the position.


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LSU camp: What we learned 

June, 5, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Here's what we learned after LSU's four-day football camp, which concluded Wednesday morning. Its second camp will be July 14-17:

1. New offers look ahead: LSU extended three offers on the weekend, all to players in the 2015 or 2016 classes.


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Tales from the Road: LSU 

May, 29, 2013
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Every Wednesday, GeauxTigerNation will take a look at LSU's week in recruiting in Tales From The Road.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- It almost felt like football season over the weekend in Baton Rouge.

Fans surrounded Tiger Stadium, tailgating in adjacent parking lots. Then, when the time was right, they poured into the stadium for the main event.

Only this weekend, it wasn't football, but the annual Bayou Country Superfest, featuring Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, the Zac Brown Band and Luke Bryan, who headlined the stadium for Memorial Day weekend.

But it sure did feel like a football weekend, and it just so happened there were football players on campus. Some of the state's top recruits were on hand for LSU's Bayou Picnic event, getting a little taste of a game day.

Happy accident? We think not.

This week's targets: LSU recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson and wide receiver coach Adam Henry were at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans for the New Orleans Karr/New Orleans Brother Martin spring scrimmage.


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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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Tales from the Road: LSU 

May, 22, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- The spring game is back in Louisiana.

Gone for several years because of a change in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association rules, spring games returned this year and provided great evaluation opportunities for coaches. You had matchups like West Monroe (with ESPN 150 offensive tackle Cameron Robinson) against Monroe Neville (ESPN 150 safety Laurence "Hootie" Jones).

You had quarterback Brandon Harris (Bossier City/Parkway) putting up big yards in a spring game. You had Baton Rouge's University Lab, featuring three major prospects in three different classes -- 2014 ESPN 150 offensive lineman Garrett Brumfield (LSU commit), 2015 running back prospect Nick Brossette and 2017 stud Dylan Moses -- taking on rising class 5A power Zachary.

It's May in Louisiana, but around high school campuses, there's a touch of September.

This week's targets: LSU's coaches were spread out at spring games over the weekend.


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BATON ROUGE, La. -- The stage was set for Brandon Harris.

The 2014 quarterback, whose stock has risen steadily throughout the spring, had the stage to himself when his school, Bossier City, La.'s Parkway High, hosted Alexandria, La./Alexandria Senior High for a spring game.


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BATON ROUGE, La. -- While University Lab School has a solid athletic tradition and some good football history -- Louisiana Class 1A state champions in 1974 and 1988, and a smattering of college and pro players like Brad Banta and Brian Kinchen -- it isn't necessarily on the state's "A" list of football powers.

Schools like John Curtis and Evangel, which eliminated the Cubs from last year's Class 2A playoffs in the semifinals, have won more championships and perhaps have a longer list of past stars.

Few, however, can match the star power now going through the small, academically rigorous school located on LSU's campus.

A year after defensive end Tim Williams left "U-High," as locals call it, for Alabama as ESPN's top-rated player out of Louisiana, the Cubs produced Garrett Brumfield, the ESPN 150 defensive end who committed to LSU over the weekend.

The trend will continue in upcoming years. Nick Brossette, will be among the top running backs in the country in the 2015 class, and all eyes are on Class of 2017 super prospect Dylan Moses, who made national news when he was offered by LSU in the summer before his eighth-grade year. He subsequently has earned offers from Alabama and Florida. Moses has yet to play his first game at University's high school team, yet people have long been speculating where he'll play in college.

U-High, always the strong academic school with a competitive football program, is suddenly a hotbed.

(Read full post)

Brumfield pledge highlights LSU weekend 

April, 22, 2013
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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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2015 CB Lewis perseveres, getting noticed 

March, 27, 2013
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ZACHARY, La. -- Sunday wasn't the best day for Xavier Lewis (LaPlace, La./East St. John).

The 2015 cornerback didn't perform up to his standards at the NUC 5-star Challenge in Baton Rouge, often getting beat by lesser-known receivers.


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Receiving four offers as a high school sophomore isn't all that uncommon anymore, but few 2015 recruits can lay claim to the quality of offers extended to running back Nick Brossette (Baton Rouge, La./University Laboratory School).


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