LSU Tigers: Ed Paris

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Asked whether Saturday’s spring game would be an important factor in some of his team’s key position battles, Les Miles clearly saw no need to do his best P.T. Barnum impression in order to draw a crowd -- which is fine since admission to LSU’s 1 p.m. CT scrimmage at Tiger Stadium is free.

“Not really to be honest with you. We’re going to watch competition [and] it’s a key scrimmage, but it’s also one of those things where there’s a lot of time left before we get to [deciding] playing time,” Miles said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s one piece, but obviously it’s important and any time we walk into that stadium, we expect our guys to play at a certain level.”

[+] EnlargeBrandon Harris
Courtesy of IntersportAll eyes will be on the quarterbacks on Saturday in LSU's spring game, and former Under Armour All-American Brandon Harris has a chance to make a big impression.
Miles and his coaches have been observing practice for a month and then they’ll have 29 more August practices to settle their lineups for the opener against Wisconsin. But this is the first chance most of us will have to see how some Tigers handle new or expanded roles in a competitive situation. That’s what makes spring games fun, even if it’s just a glorified scrimmage.

So while Miles indicated it would be a mistake to draw any major conclusions from Saturday’s competition, there are still plenty of areas of intrigue worth observing since this is the last time we’ll see the Tigers do anything competitive until they take the field at Houston’s Reliant Stadium on Aug. 30. Here's what we’ll be keeping an eye on from the press box:

Quarterback play: Duh. It was no surprise at Thursday’s practice, which was open for students to attend, that the vast majority of them gathered around the field where LSU’s quarterbacks were throwing to their wide receivers. The competition between sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris is by far the biggest source of intrigue among Tigers fans, and their performances on Saturday will generate speculation all summer about who is best prepared to lead the offense in the opener against Wisconsin.

Both players have worked with the first- and second-team offenses, although Miles hasn’t been specific about who has done what in practices or scrimmages. Jennings certainly looks to have a better handle on things in the portions of practice that are open to the media. Harris, meanwhile, is all raw potential thanks to a powerful throwing arm. The early enrollee seems more likely to sail a ball over or behind a receiver, but when he does it correctly, it’s a thing of beauty.

Defenders could tackle Harris and Jennings when they ran from the pocket in last Saturday’s scrimmage, but Miles predicted they will likely wear non-contact jerseys in the spring game.

Offensive line development: Obviously one of LSU’s main position battles this spring has been at right guard, where Evan Washington, Fehoko Fanaika and Ethan Pocic have all gotten a look from new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see all three players factor into the Tigers’ plans in the fall, although somebody has to be the starter. Washington seems to be the leader, but we’ll gain some understanding of the pecking order on Saturday.

Overall, a line that returns four starters was effective last season, particularly as run blockers. They want to become a dominant group this season, however, and their experience and apparent depth make that seem like a possibility. Let’s see how they fare against an emerging LSU defensive line on Saturday.

Beckwith vs. Welter: We could expand this to the performance of the entire reshuffled linebacker corps, with Kwon Alexander at weakside linebacker and Lamar Louis at strong. But let’s narrow our focus on the play of senior D.J. Welter and sophomore Kendell Beckwith in the middle. Both players have reportedly enjoyed productive springs and both will likely factor into coordinator John Chavis’ plans in the fall. But who will be the starter? Saturday won’t decide that outcome, but it will be interesting to observe how the two players function in a game-like situation.

Interior defensive line: Miles has said a time or two this spring that the competition between the offensive and defensive lines has been encouraging. It will be fun to watch them duke it out on Saturday. One group has a decided experience advantage, particularly after starting defensive tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson both bolted for the NFL draft. But there are some up-and-comers along the defensive line who could shine on Saturday.

By all accounts, sophomore Christian LaCouture has had a strong spring. Sophomore end Tashawn Bower, redshirt freshman tackles Maquedius Bain and Greg Gilmore and end/tackle Frank Herron are among the youngsters we’ll be watching, as well.

Secondary play: This is a group that simply has to play better in 2014. All of the contenders at safety haven’t been practicing lately, so it’s unclear whether we’ll get a clear idea of where that competition stands on Saturday. But how smooth will Jalen Mills look at safety? What does early enrollee Ed Paris look like after a month of practices at cornerback? Who fills the various defensive back roles if the Tigers line up in their nickel and dime packages? Will Rashard Robinson and Tre’Davious White continue to develop into the lockdown cornerbacks LSU fans hope they will become? Those are all questions to keep in mind as you watch the scrimmage.

Who are the playmakers?: Freshmen who could become some of the Tigers’ most dangerous 2014 offensive skill players -- such as tailback Leonard Fournette and receivers Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn -- won’t arrive until the summer. But there are several players already on campus who could use a confidence-building performance at Tiger Stadium to catapult themselves into the offseason.

Senior receiver Quantavius Leslie had such an outing at last Saturday’s scrimmage, catching four passes for 135 yards and three touchdowns. Who else might pull off that kind of feat? Receivers Travin Dural or John Diarse? Tight end DeSean Smith? Tailbacks Terrence Magee or Kenny Hilliard? Somebody else? Stay tuned.

LSU position groups to improve: No. 3

February, 12, 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 preview the upcoming series of team workouts.

In the first two days of this week's series listing five position groups with room to improve in the fall, we discussed the tight ends and defensive tackles. Now we move onto the safeties, where LSU must replace starter Craig Loston, though the Tigers have added some excellent young players in the most recent signing class.

[+] EnlargeJalen Mills
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsJalen Mills started at safety in the Outback Bowl.
3. Safety

Battling for No. 1: For a school that prides itself on its defensive back legacy, LSU's secondary was far too erratic in 2013. Of course, there was a lot to replace -- Eric Reid made the Pro Bowl as an NFL rookie, for instance -- but it was certainly a transitional season for the Tigers. The transition continues this season with senior Craig Loston leaving for the NFL. It appears that Jalen Mills -- whose transition to safety was eased by the emergence of Rashard Robinson and Tre'Davious White at corneback -- might be in the running for a starting spot. Mills (who had 67 tackles last fall and tied for the team lead with three interceptions) started for the first time at safety in the Outback Bowl win over Iowa after starting the first 12 games at corner. That was the last of seven different starting safety combinations for LSU in 2013, and Corey Thompson (40 tackles), Ronald Martin (38 tackles) and Rickey Jefferson (six tackles) also return among safeties who started at least once last season. But it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see some talented new safety signees immediately enter the mix this fall -- and in the case of early enrollee Edward Paris Jr., this spring.

Strength in numbers: LSU's coaches did a superb job of not only replenishing the depth chart at safety last week, but in adding players with the potential to play early. Jefferson could play a larger role this season after he was only a minor factor last fall as a true freshman -- one who most recruiting services graded as a wide receiver. Rising junior Thompson also seems like a candidate to occupy a prominent spot on the depth chart, if not start.

New on the scene: This is the area that has to excite LSU fans. There might have been a program that signed a better crop of safeties last week, but the Tigers' group looks about as good as it gets. In Jamal Adams and Paris, LSU added ESPN's Nos. 2 and 4 safeties in this class. The Tigers also landed ESPN 300 athlete (and likely safety) Devin Voorhies and three-star safety John Battle. Finally, late addition Russell Gage has multiple-position ability, but safety could be his eventual landing spot as well. With that collection of talent joining the roster, don't be surprised if freshmen challenge veteran players for spots on the depth chart this fall.

Before the commitment: Jamal Adams 

December, 29, 2013
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- One of seven prospects committing during the Under Armour All-America Game Jan. 2 at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN is safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron High).

The 6-foot, 204-pound Adams is set to announce his decision in five days between LSU and Florida, with Ole Miss and Texas not making the finals.

Was there a head coach or coaching staff of a school that didn’t make the final cut that really impressed you during the process?


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

September, 2, 2013
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With football season now in full swing, there was plenty of recruiting news over the weekend. From top high school performances to a five-star prospect ready to announce his decision, here is the latest news around the SEC.

Biggest commitment: There was only one commitment in the SEC over the weekend. Defensive lineman Braxton Hoyett (Pelham, Ala./Pelham) verbally committed to Mississippi State on Friday. Hoyett also had offers from Miami and UAB. The 6-foot-3, 274-pounder announced his decision via Twitter:

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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Lessons Learned: SPARQ championships 

July, 1, 2013
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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The Opening got underway on Monday with SPARQ testing, as the nation's top football players competed in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, 20-yard short shuttle and kneeling power ball throw. The 10 best returned for the finals, with Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) taking home the championship. Here's a closer look at what we learned during the day:

Speedy is, well, speedy

Speedy Noil
David Helman/ESPN.comSpeedy Noil lived up to his name during SPARQ testing, posting the second-best score of all time.
Coming into The Opening, Noil was a prospect whom everyone was excited to see. Noil is ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the country, but his athleticism and speed were the two aspects that people were hoping to see.

He didn't disappoint on Monday, recording a 153.51 SPARQ score, which was the second-highest score ever behind Mike Mitchell from the 2012 SPARQ Finals.

Noil ran a 4.4 40, threw the power ball 41 feet and wowed everyone watching when he jumped 45.3 inches in the vertical jump.

And as his No. 8 overall ranking shows, Noil is far from just a freak athlete who can’t play.

At 6-foot, 176 pounds, Noil holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Oregon, Texas and USC, among others. The ESPN Hot Board has the five-star prospect predicted to LSU, but he remains uncommitted at this point. -- Tom VanHaaren


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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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Ronald MartinCrystal Logiudice/US PresswireRonald Martin looks like LSU's starting strong safety, but the Tigers coaches are excited about a couple of their options at the position.
GeauxTigerNation writer Gary Laney takes your questions.

From: Will (Florida): What do you think about Ronald Martin being the starting saftey?


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BATON ROUGE, La. -- When LSU landed its seventh 2014 football commitment, Tony Upchurch, on Saturday, it sent a message about LSU's recruiting area and how the Tigers will approach recruiting the wide receiver position

If there's one big take-away from the commitment, it's this ...


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LSU adds 2014 WR from Texas 

March, 15, 2013
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After not signing a single player from the Lone Star State in 2014, LSU is making sure to re-establish its presence in Texas.

The Tigers' latest commitment is just the latest sign that, even with the 2013 aberration, the Tigers were never really out of Texas and will continue to have success there.


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Devin VoorhiesDavid Helman/ESPN.com2014 standout Devin Voorhies can play multiple positions, but might end up at safety.
This is the sixth in a series looking at players LSU might target in the 2014 recruiting class. Previously, we looked at wide receivers and tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks, offensive linemen, defensive linemen and linebackers.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- It looks like DBU will be alive and well.

If LSU doesn't get another defensive back in its 2014 recruiting class, it'll already have a pretty good class with its three current commitments, each one on the ESPN Watch List.

Here's a look at who's committed, and who else LSU is targeting.


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ATH Voorhies likes LSU's class 

March, 2, 2013
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ZACHARY, La. -- When ATH Devin Voorhies (Woodville, Miss./Wilkinson County) committed to LSU in July, it was before the recent rash of commitments that has LSU fans so excited about the 2014 recruiting class.

But Voorhies, in the Baton Rouge area Saturday for the National Underclassman Combine at suburban Zachary High School, said he saw it coming.


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Mailbag: Quarterbacks, anyone? 

March, 1, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Gary Laney took your questions:

From Will (Houston): If Zach Mettenberger is going to be the starting quarterback, the big question is, who will be the No. 2 coming out of spring?


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There was no big junior day at LSU this weekend. Spring practice? Doesn't start for another couple of weeks.

Yet recruiting news poured out of the LSU campus in the last weekend of February. ESPN 2014 Watch List defensive back Ed Paris (Mansfield,Texas/Timberview) committed Monday via Twitter, joining linebacker Donnie Alexander (New Orleans/Karr), who committed Sunday.


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Watch List CB Paris headed to the SEC

February, 25, 2013
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March 29 is Ed Paris’ birthday. It also was supposed to be the day the ESPN Watch List defensive back announced his college plans.

Paris couldn’t wait that long to announce he was heading back to his home state.

Originally from New Orleans, Paris (Arlington, Texas/Mansfield Timberview) verbally committed to LSU Monday evening in a decision that seemed to surprise few. He chose LSU over Texas and Florida.

“I’m from New Orleans. I like a lot about LSU,” Paris told ESPN.com’s Derek Tyson during the New Level Athletics 7-on-7 Southeast regional tournament in Rockledge, Fla. “I like the defense, the coaches, the facility, all around.”

At 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, Paris has the build of a safety at the next level, but he is sold on playing cornerback for the Tigers. A player with seven interceptions as a junior, Paris uses speed, long arms and physical pressing at the line of scrimmage to frustrate receivers.

“They will get a fast and physical corner with a tremendous upside,” said Kashann Simmons, recruiting coordinator at Timberview. “He is a great kid off the field, as well.”

Paris took to Twitter Monday evening to officially announce his commitment.

"First, I'd like to sincerely thank all the coaches, fans and everyone throughout the country who has supported me through this process," Paris tweeted. "It has been a long and hard decision to make, as the schools I visited showed me much love and support as it relates to me growing personally. After much deliberation, prayer & support from my parents, I am committing to.........."

It was here when he changed his Twitter avi to him behind a Tigers background.

Recruited by special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey and secondary coach Corey Raymond, Paris becomes the sixth member of LSU’s 2014 recruiting class. Paris had more than 30 offers, but he had been considered a longtime LSU lean. He will join fellow 2014 cornerback Chris Hardeman (Houston/Alief Taylor) in the defensive secondary. Additionally, Watch List player Devin Voorhies (Woodville, Miss./Wilkinson County) is listed as an athlete but is projected by many to play safety for the Tigers.

Paris had 37 tackles, eight pass breakups and three forced fumbles to go along with his seven picks -- two of which he returned for touchdowns. A first-team, all-state selection, Paris said he is planning to enroll early at LSU.

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