LSU Tigers: SEC

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 27, 2014
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Less than two weeks remain until national signing day, and this was the second-to-last official visit weekend before Feb. 5. There were a couple of big decommitments, a few commitments and several key official visits. Here’s a closer look at all the latest recruiting news around the SEC.

LSU savors open to SEC season

September, 18, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. – Odell Beckham Jr. leapt high in the end zone during the first quarter Saturday at Tiger Stadium. He looked set to snag a touchdown reception from Zach Mettenberger, before Kent State defender Darius Polk interfered on the play, drawing a flag as he popped a Beckham finger loose from its socket.

It required two attempts for a trainer on the LSU sideline to set the finger back in place.

The scenario, Beckham said, turned his stomach a bit.

[+] EnlargeLes Miles
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesLes Miles and LSU are out for a third-straight win over Auburn.
But on the next LSU possession, there he was, lined up wide. He caught a 12-yard pass on the second play.

“I’m not going to leave the field,” he said.

With such enthusiasm over a game against Kent State, imagine Beckham’s energy level this week as the sixth-ranked Tigers prepare to open SEC play against Auburn on Saturday (7:45 p.m. ET, ESPN).

“That’s why I came here, to play in the SEC,” said Beckham, who leads the nation through three games in all-purpose yardage. “Honestly, I can’t wait. I feel like a kid in a candy shop -- just excited about Auburn and the teams we’re going to face. I’m looking forward to the competition.”

Beckham’s feelings appear representative of the Tigers after comfortable wins over TCU, UAB and the Golden Flashes. LSU hasn’t trailed in 180 minutes despite a defense forced to replace eight starters from a year ago and youth across the board.

The Tigers have played 14 true freshman, third-most nationally behind Texas A&M and UCLA.

Still, LSU looks ready for the SEC.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence right now,” junior receiver Jarvis Landry, second nationally with five touchdowns on his 17 receptions. “We believe in the system. We’re going to continue to buy into the system.”

Beckham and Landry have teamed with Mettenberger to form a lethal passing combination that ranks as the Tigers’ most notable improvement over last year.

The senior Mettenberger ranks eighth in Total QBR. He’s thrown nine touchdowns, an LSU record through three games, without an interception and reached the end zone on 13 percent of passes, second nationally behind Florida State phenom Jameis Winston.

All this after Mettenberger ranked 96th a year ago in Total QBR, averaging 7.4 yards per pass attempt. This year, it’s 11.6 under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

“I think we’re in a good spot right now,” Mettenberger said. “We’ve done so many good things, but we’ve yet to play our best football.”

With the re-emergence of running back Jeremy Hill, the Tigers are stacked in the backfield, too. Each of their top running backs -- Kill, Alfred Blue, Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee -- have led the Tigers in rushing in at least one career game.

“We have a really good problem,” Mettenberger said. “Who to get the ball to?”

Hill rushed for 117 yards and two scores last week in his second game back from suspension. He’s far from a finished product, coach Les Miles said.

Defensively, the Tigers were supposed to struggle. After all, this team lost 10 underclassmen to the NFL after last season, including five defensive starters with new starters needed at every position on the line.

But as LSU enters SEC play, that front four might rank as the strength of the defense.

“I like it, how we’re playing,” defensive tackle Ego Ferguson said. “But I feel like we can still improve every play.”

They’ve allowed 267 yards per game, No. 10 nationally. It’s 62 yards – and nearly a yard per play – down from a year ago through three games. Impressive, though.

“I can’t wait for SEC play,” Ferguson said.

After the win over Kent State, a reporter asked Miles what he likes about waiting until this fourth week to jump into league play as many SEC teams have already opened their conference schedules.

“Did I say I like that?” Miles said.

The coach said he likes his team but that he needs a measuring stick to accurately gauge its progress.

He’s about to get it. The SEC is here.

CB Watkins discusses newest SEC offer 

March, 26, 2013
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ESPN Watch List defensive back Nick Watkins (Dallas/Bishop Dunne) understands that the SEC has some of the most talented defensive backs in the country. Of his 23 offers, eight come from the conference that has won every BCS national championship game since 2007.


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LSU-A&M has meaning in recruiting, too 

October, 18, 2012
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M's clash with LSU on Saturday at Kyle Field is important for several reasons.

When the No. 6 Tigers come to town, it won't just be the SEC standings that are affected. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin also believes the game carries heft in the recruiting world.

[+] EnlargeKevin Sumlin
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesKevin Sumlin and Texas A&M go head-to-head with LSU on many recruiting battles.
"It's important for both teams [from a recruiting standpoint]," Sumlin said. "LSU's over here [in Texas] pretty heavy too. I think us moving to the SEC really helps us because of our effort to expand our footprint east. Because of the proximity to Louisiana and the two schools, obviously there's going to be some guys that both of us are extremely interested in."

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Isaiah Golden: LSU could change my mind 

October, 15, 2012
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videoCARTHAGE, Texas -- Carthage (Texas) High School defensive tackle Isaiah Golden knows he's a marked young man.

With his size (6-foot-3, 315 pounds), strength and college commitment (Texas A&M), he knows that he's getting an opponent's best effort week in and week out. So it's up to Golden to meet that challenge each time.

"Every day I'm thinking I have to get better at what I do," Golden said. "The dude in front of me, he can hurt me if I don't go hard. That could mess my career up, so every day, I try to go hard."

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2014 LB Kain Daub opening things up? 

October, 10, 2012
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN Watch List inside linebacker Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) will likely be one of the top linebackers in the country next year. After the 6-foot-3, 227-pound athlete committed to LSU on July 14, he shut down his recruitment. But now he is thinking about opening things back up.

"My LSU commit is still pretty solid, but I think I'm going to open up the doors up again," Daub said. "Anything could happen, there could be a coaching change and I just want something to fall back on and not just close all doors just because I committed to LSU."

[+] EnlargeKain Daub
Courtesy of Jeff Barlis, GatorNationLinebacker Kain Daub could be one of the top defensive prospects in the class of 2014.
Daub recently transferred from Ponte Vedra (Fla.) Nease to Sandalwood High School and is now playing alongside Alabama defensive end commit DeMarcus Walker. Daub, who has more than 15 offers, said Walker continually tries to get him to switch to Alabama.

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DE Greg Gilmore rates Florida visit an 11 

September, 24, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN 150 defensive tackle Greg Gilmore (Home Mills, N.C./South View) took an official visit to Florida this past weekend. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound four-star tackle said he enjoyed his trip to Gainesville.

"It was great man," Gilmore said. "I had a great time. It was a good game. The defensive front played well and that's really what I'm looking for is the defensive front. The whole defense, the whole offense, everybody played well.

"I talked to the coaches all the time I was there pretty much. They told me I would be a key essential to putting their defense together. They were saying they need more guys -- more guys that are good coming out of high school and more guys that need less development. I mean everyone needs development, but they are looking for guys that can play early."

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LSU hopes Mettenberger passes test

August, 24, 2012
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AP Photo/Gerald HerbertLSU QB Zach Mettenberger will look to turn around a passing attack that struggled last season.
With six starters returning on offense and five on defense from a team that reached the BCS National Championship Game, it’s no surprise the LSU Tigers are No. 3 in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25. That’s even with the loss of cornerback Morris Claiborne and defensive tackle Michael Brockers – both NFL first-round picks – and the dismissal of All-America cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who won the 2011 Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

A major reason for the high expectations is at quarterback, where LSU fans believe it’s a matter of addition by subtraction. Redshirt junior Zach Mettenberger replaces Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, who shared the starting job last season. Who would’ve guessed that would be the case for a school replacing two players with a combined 50 career starts (32 for Jefferson, 18 for Lee) since 2008 with one who has never started an NCAA game?

With Jefferson and Lee as the primary starters over the last four seasons, the Tigers’ passing attack has struggled mightily. They finished in the bottom half of the SEC in four key passing statistical categories during that span.

In 2011, LSU nearly became the second team to beat four AP top-3 opponents in one season (Notre Dame did it in 1943) since the poll came into existence in 1936. The Tigers beat No. 3 Oregon, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Arkansas before losing to the second-ranked Crimson Tide in their rematch in the BCS National Championship Game. In four of its key games – the season opener against the Ducks, both Alabama matchups and the SEC Championship Game against Georgia – LSU got almost nothing from its passing attack yet managed to win three of those contests.

Enter Mettenberger, a strong-armed, pure pocket passer and the most highly touted quarterback to arrive on the LSU campus since JaMarcus Russell (ranked sixth), the first pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, signed in 2003. Mettenberger, the ninth-ranked quarterback in the 2009 signing class, first signed with Georgia but was dismissed from the team in 2010 before ever playing a down for the Bulldogs after getting into legal trouble.

Mettenberger then transferred to Butler (Kan.) Community College, where he led his team to the national title game in his lone season there and was the top-ranked quarterback in the junior college ranks before signing with LSU in 2011. Last season, Mettenberger completed 8-of-11 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown in five games.

LSU already possesses arguably the best set of running backs in the country and one of the nation’s most ferocious defenses. If Mettenberger can improve LSU’s oft-anemic passing attack, it’s easy to envision the Tigers in South Florida playing for the national championship for the second straight season.
The impact that Texas A&M's membership in the SEC has had on recruiting is noticeable. The Aggies currently have a whopping 27 commitments in their 2013 recruiting class even though fall practice hasn't even started for Texas high schools. Many of the Aggies’ commitments have said that the SEC membership is among the top reasons they chose Texas A&M.

Coach Kevin Sumlin has acknowledged that impact, noting that Texas A&M has "probably gotten a few more visits" and his coaches have had a few more "return phone calls" from recruits who might not otherwise have considered the Aggies if they weren't in what's widely considered to be the nation's premier football conference.

In its home state, it can be a selling point, since Texas A&M is the only school within the state that can allow a Texas high school football product to stay close to his home and still play in the SEC. And Sumlin has acknowledged that while the Aggies can and will recruit nationally, Texas will continue to be their primary emphasis.

That's justified, considering that Texas produces hundreds of Division I signees every year. But what about other SEC schools? Does Texas A&M's entry into the league mean that coaching staffs across the SEC will attempt to increase their recruiting within Texas? At SEC media days last month, coaches' opinions were varied.

LSU coach Les Miles, whose staff has recruited players from Texas and particularly from Greater Houston, said the Tigers’ presence could increase.

"I think there will be a greater opportunity to go in there and recruit, as well, because it's a great conference and certainly Texas A&M represents that in that state," Miles said. "We'll be able to go in and say to them, 'If you want to play in that conference like Texas A&M, certainly LSU and those other schools in our conference would represent that.


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2014 WR Trey Quinn focused on football 

July, 20, 2012
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Two-sport star Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) opted to take the summer off from one of his sports, baseball, to concentrate on what may be his better sport, football.

That decision is starting to pay off.

After receiving an offer from LSU at the end of LSU's summer camp on Wednesday, the Class of 2014 wide receiver rode with his father to College Station, Texas, to a visit to Texas A&M Thursday. There, he received an offer from Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin.

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With a recent trio of signing class additions, LSU bumped up four spots to No. 11 in the ESPN recruiting class rankings.

The Tigers have had three commitments since Friday, including ESPN150 tight end DeSean Smith (Lake Charles, La./Barbe). LSU also brought in four-star defensive end Lewis Neal (Wilson, N.C./Hunt) and three-star athlete Melvin Jones (Lake Charles, La./Washington-Marion).

LSU was not the only big mover Friday. Florida State jumped from No. 9 to No. 5. USC bumped up to No. 6 from No. 8. Georgia dropped to No. 8 from No. 5 and Washington debuted at No. 21.
[+] EnlargeLaremy Tunsil
Derek Tyson/ESPN.comFive-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil now has a top three of Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Five-star offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) visited Alabama, Georgia and Florida over the last week. The 6-foot-6, 295-pound tackle named a top three after his visit to Florida on Sunday.

"I would say they are my top three," Tunsil said of the three schools he visited. "It's a tie right now with all of them."

Tunsil, who camped at Alabama last weekend, visited Georgia on Friday and Saturday before heading to Gainesville on Sunday. The No. 3-ranked player in the country said he was impressed by what Georgia had to offer.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Defensive end prospect Gerald Willis III (New Orleans, La./Edna Karr) will only be a junior this coming year, but he is already familiar with what college football recruiting is all about. Willis is the half-brother of Alabama safety signee Landon Collins, the No. 1 safety in the country last year.

[+] EnlargeGerald Willis
Miller Safrit/ESPN.com2014 defensive end Gerald Willis has visited LSU, Alabama and Florida.
Collins spurned the home-state LSU Tigers and instead signed with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Willis said he wants to follow his brother's lead by not being afraid to get out of Louisiana -- but only if it's the best decision for him when it's time to make his college decision.

"It really don't matter if I go far from home," Willis said. "I just know that I have a home to come home to. My brother proved that he wasn't just going to stay at home. He could have stayed at home, but he thought he could go further if he went to Alabama. So I'm going to follow in my brother's footsteps. I might stay at home or I might go somewhere. I just don't know."

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Five things to know: Offensive line 

June, 11, 2012
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When one thinks of LSU's offense, the thought of a physical running game comes to mind.

La'El Collins
Davide De Pas La'el Collins could make an immediate impact on LSU's offensive line in 2012.
And make no mistake about it, that starts up front with a quality offensive line.

LSU had a good offensive line last season and may have a better one in 2012. Here are five things to know about the Tigers' offensive line this off-season.

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Pagano names two official visits 

June, 1, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Much to his delight, four-star defensive tackle Scott Pagano (Honolulu/Moanalua) received a scholarship offer from the Florida Gators on Thursday morning. The 6-foot-3, 279-pound defensive tackle said he was thrilled to get an offer from one of his childhood favorites.

[+] EnlargeScott Pagano
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comScott Pagano never expected his recruiting to take off like it has and he now has offers from Alabama, Florida, LSU, USC and Cal.
"Very, very, very, very big in my opinion," Pagano said of the Florida offer. "That's a top school that I have been dying to hear from. When they came with the offer it was very exciting. So far I only have them and LSU as an official visit. The other three I will name in July."

Pagano holds offers from Georgia, Florida State, Oklahoma, Michigan, Miami, Oregon, USC and many more. He says that in addition to the Florida and LSU official visits, he also plans to unofficially visit Texas, LSU, Alabama and either Florida or Florida State in July.

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