NCF On The Trail: Darrel Williams

BATON ROUGE, La. – National signing day isn't always dramatic, but this could be a memorable one at LSU.

Between the half-dozen spots still available, the uncommitted heavyweights who are reportedly still considering the Tigers and the players who have already committed to LSU and recently considered other options, Les Miles and his staff have plenty of work to do before the end of the day Wednesday.

We'll start our look at how LSU is addressing its positions of need with the group that is the source of the most intrigue -- the defensive line -- before discussing how premium talent such as tailback Leonard Fournette, receiver Trey Quinn, linebacker Clifton Garrett and offensive lineman Garrett Brumfield should make this one of the nation's top signing classes regardless of what happens with the Tigers' uncommitted targets.

Defensive line: Position coach Brick Haley might not sleep too well tonight, as even he is probably unsure of who will become a Tiger on Wednesday.

Not only have committed ESPN 300 defensive ends Deondre Clark (Oklahoma, Arizona State) and Davon Godchaux (UCLA, Auburn) looked around a bit lately, but several prospects are still flirting with LSU late in the process.

The biggest fish was ESPN's No. 14 overall prospect Lorenzo Carter -- most recruiting analysts predict he will sign with home-state Georgia -- but LSU also seems to be in the mix for No. 164 overall prospect and No. 11 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic) and four-star tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren). The Tigers also received a weekend visit from three-star end Sione Teuhema (Keller, Texas/Keller), a Texas commit whose brother Maea -- the No. 38 prospect and No. 2 offensive guard in the ESPN Junior 300 -- seems likely to sign next season with the school Sione chooses Wednesday.

As of now, Godchaux (Plaquemine, La./Plaquemine) and Clark (Oklahoma City/Douglass) are LSU's only publicly committed defensive linemen, so the quality and size of this group is far from set. Stay tuned.

Receiver: The good news is that LSU is on the verge of signing one of the nation's top groups of wide receivers regardless of what happens with ESPN's top player at the position, Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis). Dupre is set to announce on Wednesday -- he visited UCLA over the weekend after a whirlwind of trips to LSU, Alabama, Florida State and Ole Miss -- and LSU seems to be the favorite.

[+] EnlargeMalachi Dupre
Courtesy of IntersportIf LSU signs Malachi Dupre, the nation's No. 1 wide receiver, the Tigers would have a fantastic class of wide receivers.
Generally considered the must-have prospect among LSU's remaining targets, Dupre would join record-setting receiver Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe), ESPN's No. 3 wideout, and fellow ESPN 300 honorees D.J. Chark (Alexandria, La./Alexandria Senior) and Tony Upchurch (Pearland, Texas/Glenda Dawson) in the class. The Tigers also continue to pursue four-star TCU commit Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln).

With Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham entering the NFL draft after exceptional junior seasons, LSU has an immediate need at receiver because the Tigers have no proven options at the position. Some members of this signing class will almost certainly become immediate contributors in the fall.

Secondary: As with Carter, five-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) -- ESPN's No. 9 overall prospect and No. 3 cornerback -- makes LSU recruitniks' hearts go pitter-pat. There has been heavy competition from USC, Florida and UCLA, but LSU gave Jackson its best sales pitch. And he could make an immediate impact if he picks the Tigers. LSU returns almost everyone from a young secondary, save senior Craig Loston, but will almost certainly feature one or two 2014 signees in some role this fall.

Early enrollee Edward Paris Jr. (Arlington, Texas/Timberview), ESPN's No. 50 overall prospect and No. 4 safety, is the first name that comes to mind, as he will participate in spring practice. But No. 18 overall prospect and No. 2 safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) -- a huge get when the Tigers missed out on in-state prospect Hootie Jones – could also figure into the mix.

LSU also has a commitment from ESPN 300 athlete Devin Voorhies (Woodville, Miss./Wilkinson County), who should play safety, and three-star defensive backs John Battle IV (Hallandale Beach, Fla/Hallandale) and Russell Gage (Baton Rouge, La./Redemptorist).

Running back: Every recruiting analyst has thoroughly covered by now that LSU's commitment from No. 1 overall prospect Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine) was massive. With Jeremy Hill leaving for the draft, the Tigers needed to sign a top-tier back and Fournette should more than fit the bill. The Tigers are also adding three-star back Darrel Williams (Marrero, La./John Ehret), whose north-south running style should fit well in the Tigers' running game.

Offensive line: The Tigers return four starters along the offensive line, so it's not an immediate need. Rarely does a school sign high school offensive linemen looking to fill immediate needs, however. Down the road, ESPN's No. 1 guard and No. 54 overall prospect Brumfield (Baton Rouge, La./University Laboratory) should become a fixture in the lineup. The Tigers also have a commitment from four-star guard William Clapp (New Orleans/Brother Martin) and continued to pursue three-star tackle Derrick Kelly Jr. (Quincy, Fla./East Gadsden) late in the process.

Linebacker: This much we know: No. 31 overall prospect and No. 2 inside linebacker Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) looks like LSU's next great run-stopping linebacker. He and ESPN 300 outside linebacker Donnie Alexander (New Orleans/Edna Karr) are the Tigers' two committed linebackers. LSU is also among the leading suitors for Dupre's teammate Kenny Young (River Ridge, La./John Curtis), who will also announce on Wednesday.

The Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale also reported Monday that LSU reiterated its interest in Miami commit Terry McCray (Pompano Beach, Fla./Blanch Ely), a three-star outside linebacker.

LSU adds three-star RB Darrel Williams

December, 10, 2013
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LSU picked up commitment No. 15 on Tuesday night as three-star running back Darrel Williams (Marrero, La./John Ehret) gave his verbal commitment to the Tigers. The news was reported by several media outlets.

The 5-foot-11, 203-pound back decommitted from Arizona State earlier this month and also held offers from Florida, Auburn, Georgia, and many others.

Reports earlier on Tuesday claimed four-star running back Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central) could possibly be visiting LSU this weekend. With Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine), the No. 1-ranked player on in the country, still on LSU’s recruiting board, Williams decided to pull the trigger and commit to his home-state team.

As a senior, Williams finished the regular season with 2,036 yards and 27 touchdowns and helped his team reach the regional round of the playoffs. His hard-nosed, downhill running style might be a perfect fit for the LSU offense.

"For teams looking for a downhill power-back with some shake, Williams may be the guy,” his ESPN scouting report reads. "He lacks game-breaker speed and elusiveness, but has workhorse type of attributes and the downhill strength and decisive running style that should translate well in the right downhill offense. Could get recruited to play linebacker with continued physical development."

The Tigers currently have the No. 11-ranked class in the country, which includes 11 prospects ranked in the ESPN 300.

Five recruiting needs for Texas' 2014 class

December, 10, 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Immediately after returning from Waco, Texas’ coaching staff hit the road on Sunday to begin visiting its committed recruits and targets. Mack Brown is expected to join them today for in-home visits.

The Longhorns picked up commit No. 23 on Monday but still have plenty of work to do. Here’s a look at the positions where Texas needs the most help going into 2014. It’s a safe bet Texas’ final pledges will come from these five spots:

1. Quarterback

After putting this move off for two consecutive offseasons, Texas needs to bring in a transfer quarterback. The Longhorns briefly pursued Bo Wallace, Nick Marshall and other juco options in recent years, but opted to stick with Case McCoy as the backup.

Now McCoy is graduating, David Ash is recovering, Tyrone Swoopes is still inexperienced and touted commit Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/Guyer) won’t arrive until the summer.

There are no five-star, big-time options at the junior college level this year. So Texas’ best bet is pursuing a graduate transfer. One QB that Texas and several others major programs are keeping an eye on is Florida State’s Jacob Coker, who would have two seasons of eligibility if he leaves.

2. Defensive end

Jackson Jeffcoat is off to the pros. Cedric Reed could opt to leave early and join him. If he does, Texas will need an end or two who is ready to play right away in 2014. Hence its recent interest in junior college prospects.

New Mexico Military Institute teammates Edmond Boateng and Terry Ayeni will both visit Texas this week. Boateng, ESPN’s No. 3 ranked juco defensive end prospect, arrives Wednesday and will also visit Arizona State this weekend. Ayeni will be in town Friday for the banquet. They want to play together at the next level if possible.

ESPN 300 commit Derick Roberson, out of San Antonio Brennan, has the potential to play right away, and Texas will keep pushing for Solomon Thomas. But guys who can enroll in January are a must now.

3. Running back

Next season, Texas will enter fall camp with two senior running backs and a junior, Johnathan Gray, who might not be healthy until August following a torn Achilles. That has made taking three running backs in this class a priority. Three are currently committed, but it’s an interesting group.


D’Onta Foreman , (Texas City, Texas/Texas City) had a huge senior year, but could be a close call in terms of qualifying. Kevin Shorter (Newton, Texas/Newton) suffered a spinal injury this fall that could end his playing career. Longtime pledge Donald Catalon (Houston/Eisenhower) is solid, but has shown potential as a DB as well.

So Texas is looking. Two names to keep an eye on are Corey Avery, the Dallas Carter teammate of pledge Cameron Hampton, and recent Arizona State decommitment Darrel Williams (Marrero, La./Ehret).

4. Defensive back

Of the many ESPN 300 targets still uncommitted, you’d have to say Jamal Adams is at the top of Texas’ board. Tony Brown is a high priority, too, but Adams is a must-get. He’d play right away and possible even start for the Longhorns in 2014.

Adams keeps to himself when it comes to this process, but at the moment this seems to be a battle between Florida, LSU and Texas. Texas already has two safety pledges in Jason Hall (Grand Prairie, Texas/South Grand Prairie) and John Bonney (Houston/Lamar), but Adrian Phillips is set to graduate and the Longhorns haven’t exactly received consistent play from their other safeties this season.

5. Defensive tackle

This priority gets bumped down the list after four-star defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) announced his commitment to Texas on Monday, but Texas isn’t done shopping at this spot.

Longtime four-star commit Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Warren) has taken official visits to UCLA, Arizona State and Ole Miss this fall. Since Lealaimatafao is looking around, so will Texas. The Longhorn staff must operate under the assumption he’s no longer committed. If Lealaimatafao doesn’t reaffirm his pledge this weekend at the banquet, don’t be surprised if Texas pursues other options, including at the junior college level.

Henderson, Jake McMillon (Abilene, Texas/Abilene) and Courtney Garnett (New Orleans/St. Augustine) are solid, but losing Chris Whaley and the transfer of Ashton Dorsey made this spot a need, and 2012 signees Paul Boyette Jr. and Alex Norman haven’t panned out.

Recruits will be watching: UGA-AU 

November, 15, 2013
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When Auburn takes on SEC East opponent Georgia on Saturday afternoon, there will be plenty of top recruits either in attendance or watching on television. Auburn is trying to capitalize on its 9-1 record by bringing in several recruits, both for 2014 and 2015. Here’s a closer look at who will be paying close attention to this game.

1. WR Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman): The No. 61 prospect in the country will be taking an official visit to Auburn this weekend. Rudolph mentioned Auburn early in his recruitment, but he hasn’t said much about the Tigers until he announced he will be visiting there this weekend. Rudolph likes FSU and with losses starting to mount for other in-state programs Florida and Miami, Auburn is trying to get back in the picture for this talented wideout.

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SEC recruiting storylines: Nov. 14 

November, 14, 2013
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A week after LSU-Alabama took center stage in the recruiting universe, the Auburn Tigers will take the spotlight this weekend with a number of big-time prospects expected on the Plains.

Stellar visitor list expected on the Plains


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With season-openers scheduled for a number of Pac-12 programs this weekend, visitors -- official and unofficial -- made up a bulk of the news around the conference. California, Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA will all host official visitors, while Washington will have plenty of unofficial guests eager to check out the Huskies’ renovated stadium. On the field, Colorado has a chance to make a statement in the first game of the Mike MacIntyre era.


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Big Ten class rankings analysis 

August, 28, 2013
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The latest version of the ESPN class rankings is out, and there are seven Big Ten teams within the top-40 classes.

With movement happening across the board, there are trends and stories developing, so Big Ten recruiting writers Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival give you a look at what to watch within the conference:

Trending up

Brad Bournival: Interest in Ohio State after Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer created his own Twitter account. At the urging of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, @OSUCoachMeyer was created. In 12 hours, the account has three tweets -- one an introductory tweet and the other two a bible verse. In those 12 hours, the two-time national champion picked up over 24,000 followers. Incidentally, it looks like the first person Meyer followed drives the keys to the Buckeyes’ Mercedes (@BraxtonMiller5).


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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

August, 28, 2013
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The same four Pac-12 teams -- Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford and USC -- are represented in this week’s recruiting class rankings, and two of those programs made the biggest jump, as it was more of the same from the two programs in the state of Arizona. Also, as the opening weekend of college football is finally here, keep an eye on several programs hosting home openers, as visitor lists begin taking shape.

Trending up: The Arizona schools

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ASU plucks coveted Bayou RB Williams

August, 28, 2013
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Three-star running back Darrel Williams (Marrero, La./John Ehret) has committed to play in the Pac-12 for Arizona State, according to multiple reports.

Sun Devils offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach Mike Norvell lead ASU's pursuit of Williams.

Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Houston, Indiana, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis, Mississippi State, Missouri, Nebraska, Southern Miss, Tulane, Utah and Vanderbilt also extended scholarship offers to the 5-foot-11, 203-pound prospect.

Williams is the 14th pledge for Arizona State during this recruiting cycle.

Weekend wrap: ACC 

August, 19, 2013
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Last week, and over the weekend, recruiting was relatively quiet in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

ACCAs position battles in fall camps continue to rage on, coaches are focused on getting their teams ready for the season.

Though light, there still were some happenings here and there for a couple ACC squads.


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BATON ROUGE, La. -- When you think of a Cam Cameron offense, one of the first things that comes to mind is his use of fast, versatile running backs in space who can make a tackler miss.

Think LaDainian Tomlinson during Cameron's days as offensive coordinator with the San Diego Chargers. Or perhaps Ray Rice in Baltimore.


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BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU is targeting many of the top athletes in the ESPN 300, some because the Tigers' strong brand name makes it an attractive option and others because the fertile Louisiana recruiting base is strong this year, even by the state's lofty standards.

Leonard Fournette
Alex Scarborough/ESPNLSU has its eyes on top recruit Leonard Fournette.
But what needs is LSU trying to meet?

That's a little trickier to figure out at LSU than many other schools because the frequency of underclassmen departures. But we can take a guess based on likely attrition.


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Tales From The Road: LSU 

May, 15, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- In the last couple of weeks, GeauxTigerNation has spent plenty of time in New Orleans metro, visiting with coaches and players from River Ridge John Curtis, Metairie Archbishop Rummel (to watch practice) and New Orleans St. Augustine.

That's just the tip of the iceberg. New Orleans is loaded, so we'll be back. We haven't even hit loaded Karr, or prospect-laden programs such as Brother Martin, Marrero Archbishop Shaw and Marrero John Ehret yet.

Meanwhile, LSU spread its wings well away from Louisiana on the recruiting trail:

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