Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Summer recruit wrap: LSU
By Gary Laney
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.
With five of those seven players -- Fournette, offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe/West Monroe), and wide receiver Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Karr), Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) and Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) all on the offensive side of the ball, LSU-committed quarterback Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La./Parkway) will be a key recruiter. The highest-ranked Louisiana player who has committed (Harris is No. 48), he'll be a key figure in trying to secure the commitments of the other offense prospects.
Louisiana churns out the athletes
When Noil won the Nike SPARQ national competition at The Opening, he continued Louisiana's recent trend of producing superior athletes. In 2012, eventual LSU signee Jeryl Brazil, the national champion in the 60-meter indoors, ran the fastest 40-yard dash at the Opening. In 2006, Trindon Holliday was also a national champion in track coming out of Northeast High School outside of Baton Rouge, and he went on to run the fastest 100 meters ever by a college football player.
Louisiana doesn't just produce skill players. Robinson has been the nation's top offensive line prospect since the first 2014 rankings came out. But with the way he dominated at The Opening, he might be even better than we thought. Robinson wasn't just the best lineman at the camp; many thought he was the best player there, regardless of position.
The beat goes on
No, 2015 won't be as strong as 2014 in Louisiana, but the state's prospects will still be very strong. Led by a talented group of running backs, Louisiana has 16 players in the ESPN Junior 300. Leading the way is running back Nick Brossette (Baton Rouge, La./University), the first of three running backs from Louisiana in the Junior 300. And things are shaping up to be even better with a 2016 Louisiana crop that will be led by highly-regarded running back Devin White (Springhill, La./North Webster).
Palelei marks a shift?
When LSU accepted a commitment from 3-star running back Sione Palelei (Gonzeles, La./East Ascension), it marked perhaps a philosophical shift for the Tigers. Palelei is a short, strong and lightning-quick back who earned his offer after checking into LSU's camp at a sturdy 5-foot-9 and 202 pounds, then running a blazing 4.45 40-yard dash. He's a receiving threat and a dangerous back in space and perhaps a departure from the bigger, physical backs Les Miles has often favored.
LSU trusts its eye
Ever heard of D.J. Chark (Alexandria, La./Alexandria)? How about Santos Ramirez (Shreveport, La./Evangel Christian)? Neither had most recruitniks before the pair showed up at LSU camps and earned offers with outstanding performances. Chark committed. LSU has built a tradition of finding a couple of diamonds in a rough at its June and July camps and offering them, even as the names hardly register on recruiting sites. In a star-studded class like this one, LSU continues to find unheralded, but quality, prospects at camps.
But they weren't all unknowns
Ramirez earned his offer at the July camp, which had some under-the-radar guys but was mostly notable for the big names that were there. With all eight Louisiana players in the ESPN 300's top 50 attending for at least a day, the camp was perhaps the most talent-laden LSU camp ever and one of the strongest camps anywhere. It didn't hurt that the numbers -- estimates placed it at around 800 total campers over four days -- were also at an all-time high.
Want to be in "DBU?" Be versatile
LSU has four defensive back commitments and two of them -- Edward Paris (Arlington, Texas/Mansfield Timberview) and John Battle IV (Hallandale Beach, Fla./Hallandale) -- can play either corner or safety, as can Ramirez, who many think will join the class soon. With safeties forced into man-to-man coverage against spread teams and cornerbacks expected to have safety size to match up with big outside receivers, the line has blured between safety and cornerback prospects at LSU.
Louisiana, the receiver state?
With four Louisiana wide receivers among the top 63 players in the ESPN 300, it's clear that Louisiana is loaded with receiver talent. But it's way deeper than just those four. Arkansas took commitments over the weekend from the Geismar/Dutchtown pair Corey McBride and Torrance Mosley. LSU hasn't even offered Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita), the nation's No. 63-ranked recruit. Add in under-the-radar talents such as Russell Gage (Baton Rouge, La./Redemptorist) and Jared Cornelius (Shreveport, La./Evangel) and this might be the state's best year for wide receiver production.