LSU Tigers: Lewis Neal

SEC's lunchtime links

March, 12, 2014
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Hard-working reporters put in some long hours for the NFL's first day of free agency. It was so packed with news, it was almost like a mini national signing day.

LSU position groups to improve: No. 1

February, 14, 2014
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- With 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.

We've discussed the tight ends, defensive tackles, safeties and linebackers in the first four installments of this week's series on positions that can stand to improve this fall. Today's final position group is the defensive ends, who last fall struggled to replace the 2012 stars who left early to enter the NFL draft.

1. Defensive end

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY SportsJermauria Rasco (No. 59) was the Tigers' most productive defensive end in 2013.
Battling for No. 1: LSU went from having defensive ends who intimidated 2012 opponents in Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo to a 2013 group who struggled to generate the same pass-rushing production after Montgomery and Mingo left early for the NFL. Rising senior Jermauria Rasco (56 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss and a team-high four sacks) and junior Danielle Hunter (57 tackles, eight TFLs, three sacks) combined to make 23 of 26 possible starts at end last season, with rising senior Jordan Allen (16 tackles, two TFLs, two sacks) accounting for the other three. That veteran trio seems likely to remain in leading roles, although it would help if some younger players help beef up the Tigers' pass rush. LSU's 27 sacks last season were their fewest since notching just 21 in 2009.

Strength in numbers: The versatile Kendell Beckwith can contribute at end in certain situations, and perhaps he will be able to bolster LSU's edge rush after playing in a limited capacity as a freshman. Lewis Neal played a supporting role last season as a freshman, and perhaps he might earn additional playing time this fall. He appeared in 10 games and recorded seven tackles and 0.5 tackles for a loss. Same for Tashawn Bower, an ESPN 300 prospect last year who made three tackles in six games. Otherwise, Justin Maclin is the only returning end who played last season, although the oft-injured rising senior finished with just two tackles in five games.

New on the scene: ESPN 300 honoree Deondre Clark completed LSU's 23-man signing class this week when he officially joined the Tigers at a signing ceremony at his high school. He and fellow signee Sione Teuhema look capable of bringing some playmaking ability to the end position in time. The Tigers also have M.J. Patterson -- a three-star end signee in 2013 -- and ESPN 300 recruit Frank Herron coming off redshirt seasons. Herron was listed as an end last year, but he also has the frame and skillset to become an interior lineman.

LSU camp: Biggest position battles

August, 14, 2013
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D.J. WelterDerick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsD.J. Welter appears to be leading the battle for the middle linebacker spot.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- As August camp has continued at LSU, position battles have emerged, some expected, some not so much. Here are five worth keeping an eye on as the Aug. 30 season opener against TCU looms.

Middle linebacker
The prime competitors: D.J. Welter, Lamar Louis
Darkhorses: Lamin Barrow, Kendell Beckwith
Outlook: There was a huge assumption out there that Barrow would move to middle linebacker during August camp, creating a spot at outside linebacker for talented young Kwon Alexander while getting the best of the Tigers' linebackers to the most important position. As of this week, that hasn't happened. Instead, Welter, the starter at the end of spring, remains in a battle with sophomore Louis for the spot, with talented freshman Beckwith looming in the background, biding his time. And there's still time for LSU to move Barrow to the middle if defensive coordiantor John Chavis sees fit.
Opening day starter? Our guess is Welter.

Defensive end
The prime competitors: Jordan Allen, Danielle Hunter.
Darhorses: Lewis Neal, Tashawn Bower.
Outlook: Hunter is a huge talent who many feel has the potential to be a double-digit sack guy and could form an imposing pass-rushing duo opposite Jermauria Rasco. But Les Miles often rewards older, hard-working players (see Josh Downs last year starting over Anthony Johnson at defensive tackle), and Allen seems to fit that bill. And make no mistake, he's talented in his own right. Also, look out for Neal and Bower, two bright young true freshmen who have impressed during summer workouts and have continued to do so in camp.
Opening day starter? The guess is Allen, though Hunter will see plenty of snaps.

Running back
The prime competitors: Alfred Blue, Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard
Darkhorse: Terrence Magee
Outlook: With returning starter Hill reinstated following an offseason suspension the question is, will he resume his role, or will he suffer more repercussions for his off-field issues? History tells us players who find trouble at LSU don't necessarily get booted but often find themselves somewhat marginalized. That could be the case here. Blue was the opening day starter last year before suffering a knee injury, and he looks better than he did a year ago.
Opening day starter? We like Blue, and we also think Hill might not see the field in the opener as part of his punishment.

Kicker
The prime competitors: Colby Delahoussaye, James Hairston
Darkhorse: Trent Domingue
Outlook: Delahoussaye handled most of the field goals in the spring game and seems to have the edge to replace the departed Drew Alleman as the primary kicker. But Hairston, the only scholarship kicker on the team, remains in the competition, and with his stronger leg he might be the man for longer field goals. He will retain his role as the kickoff specialist.
Opening Day Starter? Delahoussaye.

No. 2 Quarterback
Prime candidates: Anthony Jennings, Stephen Rivers
Darkhorses: Rob Bolden, Hayden Rettig
Outlook: We know Zach Mettenberger is the starter, but the burning question at LSU camp is who will back him up and thus become the heir apparent to replace him in 2014? Coaches have indicated Jennings, the talented true freshman, has a slight edge over Rivers, the sophomore younger brother of Philip Rivers. But don't discount Bolden, a former starter at Penn State who is coming off injury.
Opening Day No. 2? We still like the more seasoned Rivers to come in if Mettenberger gets banged up agianst TCU, but look for Jennings to make his presence felt as the season progresses.

LSU camp: Five big questions

August, 2, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU begins fall camp on Monday morning, the day after players report to campus to begin preparations for the Tigers' Aug. 31 opener against TCU.

Here are the five big questions LSU must answer.

1. Will it be a new offense? LSU has a new offensive coordinator in former Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Does that mean the Tigers will break their recent trend of sub-par offense?

Mettenberger-MIles
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRELSU coach Les Miles is looking for quarterback Zach Mettenberger to break out in his senior season.
LSU finished 10th in the SEC in offense last season and struggled to move the ball consistently in two of its three losses. That's become a recurring theme with the Tigers since their last national championship in 2007.

Forced to go with freshmen quarterbacks in 2008, the Tigers have seemed to be conservative and reluctant to open up the offense since. Cameron, on the other hand, was fired in Baltimore in no small part because it was perceived that he abandoned the running back too often. Perhaps the new offensive coordinator and the traditionally conservative Les Miles offense can find a happy medium, and quarterback Zach Mettenberger can have a breakthrough senior year.

2. Is it a Hill, or a mountain to climb? Most expect running back Jeremy Hill to face some disciplinary ramifications after a second violation of his probation from punching a man outside of a bar near LSU. The question is, will Hill face a short suspension or something longer? That won't likely be known until mid-August.

If Hill, LSU's leading rusher last season, does not come back to the Tigers, the question becomes, who fills the void? The Tigers only have four scholarship running backs even with the immensely talented Hill.

3. Will the defense struggle down the line? LSU lost all four defensive-line starters from last season, including three who are now toiling in the NFL.

Those around the program are ecstatic about the talent the Tigers have coming up to replace departures of Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery and Bennie Logan. But many of those talented players -- think defensive ends Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter in particular -- are woefully unproven.

Defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, a former top defensive tackle in the nation coming out of high school, is projected by many to be a first-round NFL draft pick after this season despite the fact that he mostly played a backup role last season. Johnson will need to be NFL caliber, and so will a couple of others, if the Tigers are to live up to their lofty expectations on the line.

[+] EnlargeLamin Barrow
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesSenior linebacker Lamin Barrow performed well on the outside last year but could be in the mix to replace Kevin Minter at inside linebacker this season.
4. Who's the man in the middle? When you look at the players who have started at middle linebacker for LSU under defensive coordinator John Chavis -- think Kelvin Sheppard and Kevin Minter with a little Jacob Cutrera sprinkled in -- you see names currently on NFL rosters.

The question is, does LSU have an NFL-quality middle linebacker for this year's defense?

Lamin Barrow was a triple-digit tackler last season as a weakside linebacker playing alongside Minter. Chavis tried to keep him outside in the spring and worked junior D.J. Welter, who missed most of last season for academic reasons, in the starting lineup.

Barrow may be an NFL-bound outside linebacker, but can he play inside? And is Welter better than a career reserve at the position? Which one will start, or will a wildcard -- perhaps true freshman stud Kendell Beckwith -- step in?

5. Will a freshman start? Under Miles, LSU has never been afraid to run a true freshman to the field. Redshirting is rarely ever the goal for new players.

On this team, there will be plenty of opportunities for a young player to emerge. In the secondary, Tre'Davious White is expected to push for starting time at a position where Jalen Mills emerged as a true freshman starter last season following the dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu.

Look for linemen to push for early playing time. Offensive lineman Ethan Pocic impressed during the spring as an early enrollee and may be an injury away from jumping into the lineup. Christian LaCouture had a similar spring on the defensive side. Look for impressive, young defensive linemen Lewis Neal, Tashawn Bower and Greg Gilmore to quickly challenge for playing time.

Class of 2013: Where they fit 

May, 16, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- With the 2012-2013 school year winding down, the members of the LSU signing class of 2013 should be arriving on campus soon for summer workouts. The Tigers brought in eight early enrollees in the spring and 19 more will come this summer.

Here's how we see them fitting in.

LSU's class unusually spread out 

February, 6, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- When ESPN 150 defensive end Tashawn Bower gave LSU its only signing day drama Wednesday by picking the Tigers over Florida and Auburn, he filled the last spot in the signing class.

That’s true literally -- after Bower’s letter of intent arrived, LSU coach Les Miles said the Tigers are done signing players for the 2013 class -- but also in a geographical sense.

Bower, from just outside of New York in Somerville, N.J., gave the Tigers’ class a northeast presence, filling the one region of the country that was previously missing from what Miles described as the “most geographically diverse class in school history.”


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Big one gets away from LSU 

January, 14, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- It didn't take long in the recruiting process before it began to seem like LSU would not keep its most local target on campus.


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Where LSU will need help: Defense 

January, 3, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- The commitment of Maquedius Bain to LSU on Wednesday made perfect sense.

Bain, the No. 6 defensive tackle in the ESPN 150 and the highest-rated of the Tigers' 24 commitments, figures to play at LSU early. And he'll play a position where the Tigers have a tremendous recent track record for getting players to the NFL. Part of the reason there is a need for defensive tackles in this LSU class (Bain is one of four DT commitments in the class) is the presumed early departure of junior Bennie Logan to the NFL.

If Bain does play immediately, it will continue an LSU trend: Tiger freshmen should come ready to play because many of them will play. LSU used 15 true freshmen in the 2012 season, including four who started and a fifth who was a special-teams starter.

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Countdown to NSD: Lewis Neal 

December, 19, 2012
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To gear up for 2013 national signing day, GeauxTigerNation's Gary Laney will break down every commitment in the Tigers' 2013 recruiting class.

Vitals: DE Lewis Neal, 6-1, 230, Wilson, N.C./James B. Hunt

Committed: July 4, 2012

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Recruits Gilmore, Neal talk Tigers

December, 11, 2012
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At the Shrine Bowl, Miller Safrit talks with LSU commits Greg Gilmore and Lewis Neal to discuss their respective futures in Baton Rouge.

What if ... John Chavis left? 

December, 7, 2012
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- It's the height of the coaching change season. LSU has been to immune to staff changes so far, but not to the annual December speculation.

Defensive coordinator John Chavis' name got hot when the Tennessee job came open. While reports surfaced early Thursday that Tennessee hired Cincinnati's Butch Jones, the possibility remains that a school and Chavis could see enough potential in one another to prompt a move.

If that were to happen, what would happen to LSU?

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What was once a trouble spot in LSU's recruiting efforts suddenly starts to look like a strength.

Greg Gilmore's commitment to LSU on Thursday evening is the latest in a groundswell of good news for the future of the Tigers' defensive line. It's no secret that LSU is likely going to lack experience in its defensive trenches when next season rolls around.

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Greg Gilmore key commit for LSU

November, 8, 2012
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If there were concerns about LSU's defensive tackle depth, Greg Gilmore (Hope Mills, N.C./South View) put them to rest Thursday evening.

The Tigers landed their latest ESPN 150 prospect when Gilmore, the No. 104 player in the country, publicly pledged LSU's 2013 recruiting class live on “ESPN RecruitingNation” on ESPNU.

Gilmore's commitment gives LSU four commitments in the ESPN 150 and 12 commitments in the ESPN 300. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder, who’s the nation’s No. 9 defensive tackle, is also the Tigers' second defensive line commitment in less than a week after three-star DT Christian LaCouture (Lincoln, Neb./Southwest) joined the class last Friday.

"I'm going to school at Louisiana State," Gilmore said. "I called every coach last night, and it was hard -- it was hard. It was really between LSU and Florida in my opinion."

Defensive tackle was one of the last big concerns for LSU -- which now boasts 25 commitments after Gilmore's decision. The Tigers will lose senior defensive tackle Josh Downs after the 2012 season, and junior Bennie Logan is a likely loss to early entry in the 2013 NFL draft. That leaves Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson as the only battle-tested defensive tackles on the roster for next season.

"With LSU, I liked how they're losing six guys on the front," Gilmore said. "I think I can go in there and I can play early. I don't know how you could not play in Tiger Stadium. I went down there for the Alabama game and it was rocking. I had so much fun down there."

Gilmore chose LSU over Florida and Oklahoma. The consensus opinion since this past summer had been that the Gators and Tigers were the top two contenders for his signature. The final decision came after a busy month that saw Gilmore travel to Gainesville, Fla., on Sept. 22 for Florida's game against Kentucky and an Oct. 27 trip to Norman, Okla., to watch Oklahoma play Notre Dame.

Gilmore concluded the whirlwind tour with an official visit to LSU this past weekend to watch the Tigers' tilt with Alabama.

Interestingly enough, Gilmore's name adds to a surprisingly stocked haul of out-of-state commits for LSU. The Tigers rely heavily on Louisiana talent in recruiting. But Gilmore is LSU's 12th out-of-state commit for 2013. He joins LaCouture and defensive ends Frank Herron (Memphis, Tenn./Memphis Central) and Lewis Neal (Wilson, N.C./James B. Hunt) as LSU defensive line commits from outside Louisiana.
Fresh off of his visit to LSU, Lewis Neal is about as committed as a prospect can get.

When recruiters from other schools, most recently Georgia Tech, ask him to visit their campus, he politely declines.

"I don't need to do that," the four-star linebacker from Wilson (N.C.) Hunt said Monday when asked about visiting other schools. "Most schools know I'm 100 percent [so they don't' call]."

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Recruiting recap: Alabama at LSU Free

November, 5, 2012
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In Death Valley and beyond, ESPN RecruitingNation reporters tracked down the prospects who witnessed Alabama's win Saturday night at LSU. Here's a recap of the players' reactions so far Insider:

RB Scarborough solid to Bama after LSU hurdles: 2014's Bo Scarborough, a Crimson Tide commit, ran into logistical problems during his visit to Death Valley.

WR Quinn: Mettenberger looked like NFL QB: Louisiana's leading prep receiver from Lake Charles, La./Barbe and a member of the ESPN Watch List for the 2014 signing class also enjoyed meeting a former Tigers standout.

CB Tony Brown applauds Bama, LSU: The ESPN Watch List cornerback called Saturday’s clash of SEC powers "one of the best games I’ve ever been to."

RB Fournette surprised by Bama's play call: Two of Leonard Fournette's top schools, Alabama and LSU, came down to the final minute -- and a a screen play executed to perfection by the Crimson Tide.

Desean Smith liked Nic Jacobs' wrinkle: "I got to talk to [LSU tight ends coach Steve Ensminger] at the end and I told him I liked the way they used the tight ends," Smith said.

Watch List WR Dupre excited by LSU: The 6-foot-3 target couldn't help noticing Zach Mettenberger's explosion for 298 yards and a touchdown with a 68 percent completion rate.

QB commit Rettig: LSU is 'right place': While the Tigers took Saturday's setback hard, Rettig was feeling the emotions with them during his visit.

DT Rod Crayton narrows list to four: The three-star prospect said his top schools currently include Arkansas, LSU, Penn State and Tennessee.

Kendell Beckwith likes 'crazy' Death Valley: "I never thought it could get much crazier at night in Tiger Stadium than it was for South Carolina. ... I thought I had seen it as bad as it could get as far as the fans go, but this game, man. They were crazy as far as hollering. Just all night. I see why it's hard for teams to come in there and win."

ESPN 300 prospects Neal, Herron love visits: Both are commits; Herron, a DL, emailed: "It was great. That was my first game and I feel that I can play right away."

DL Tim Williams: 'It was Alabama loud': The target says Death Valley's game atmosphere is why people want to play for the Tigers.

LB Tre Williams talks Bama-LSU: The 2014 target says he knew LSU had the ability to give Alabama a game if they proved mentally ready.

DT LaCouture pledges to LSU during visit: Formerly committed to his hometown Nebraska Cornhuskers, LaCouture became LSU's 24th commit while in Baton Rouge with his mother.

Players who didn't make it to the game still had opinions to share as well:

Watch List CB Hardeman happy with LSU: "The secondary played ball out there. Jalen Mills is a true freshman, but he’s been playing real well. From top to bottom, the guys stepped up."

Race of 3 for DL Justin Manning?: Manning, a 6-foot-2, 275-pound lineman, has been considered an Oklahoma lean for months, as his brother, DeMarcus Granger, played defensive tackle for the Sooners from 2006 to 2009.

Four-star S Tahaan Goodman stays patient: It pained Goodman to postpone the trip, but that, "Me and Priest Willis (Tempe, Ariz./Marcos de Niza) are still going to head out to Louisiana, but just on a different weekend."

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