NCF On The Trail: Donnie Alexander

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BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU's coaching staff had not fully completed its 2015 signing class before 2016 was already front-and-center in the coaches' minds.

Only three days after national signing day, LSU will stage its "Boys From the Boot" recruiting weekend where it will host many of the state's up-and-coming prospects -- so getting the state's top talent on campus this weekend became an immediate top priority.

"We'll have guys from 2016, 2017 from the state of Louisiana here on our campus," LSU recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson said Wednesday afternoon, "and so we've got Thursday, Friday, we're fighting like hell to get those guys here on campus, and Saturday it's showtime."

This is a good time to make an impression on the prospects who visit Baton Rouge this weekend. Much like 2014, when in-state recruits like Leonard Fournette, Cameron Robinson, Speedy Noil, Malachi Dupre, Trey Quinn and Hootie Jones made Louisiana one of the most competitive recruiting battlegrounds in the country, 2016 is shaping up as another year where the state is loaded with high-end talent.

Five of the top 29 players in the ESPN Junior 300 -- defensive tackles Edwin Alexander, Rashard Lawrence, athlete Shyheim Carter, quarterback Shea Patterson and offensive tackle Willie Allen -- and 12 of the top 105 hail from the Tigers' home state.

Allen was among the players who received a scholarship offer from LSU at the event last year, and there will likely be a number of offers going out this weekend, as well.

"We've done all the communication by way of email, by way of correspondence and literature, camp brochures -- all the things that lead up to this point," Wilson said. "It would be the first time on campus that we describe to them the expectations from our staff, and what we expect from them to be recruitable athletes for us at LSU."

Two priority positions in the 2016 class will be linebacker and defensive tackle -- both spots where LSU did not sign a player in 2015. The Tigers would hit a home run at one of those positions -- defensive tackle -- just by taking care of business in state.

They already have a commitment from 6-foot-4, 349-pound Donavaughn Campbell, but tackles Alexander (No. 7 on ESPN 300 and No. 1 tackle) and Lawrence (No. 16 overall and No. 3 tackle) are the two most coveted prospects from within the state. ESPN's No. 13 defensive tackle Glen Logan also hails from Louisiana.

"You can probably imagine 2016 will be a big year for us defensively, as we return several guys this year and our numbers are probably minus-2 where we would like them to be, but we'll get it with no problem next year at the linebacker position, at the defensive tackle position," Wilson said. "As those guys -- [starting defensive tackles] Christian LaCouture, Davon Godchaux -- as they get older, we'll look to have some parity in the distinction between our sophomores and juniors and the freshman class that will come in.

"So I think we'll have a heavy emphasis on our defensive line, our linebacker position and kind of take the rest of them in stride based on graduation and guys that may opt to go the National Football League."

Junior LaCouture and sophomore Godchaux return as starters, and new defensive line coach Ed Orgeron will also have a number of third-year sophomores (Maquedius Bain, Greg Gilmore and Frank Herron) and redshirt freshmen (Travonte Valentine and Trey Lealaimatafao) at his disposal in 2015. Recruiting the 2016 tackle standouts will not only be about bolstering depth, but solidifying the interior line for several years to come.

"We're very deep, but we have some young players that played very well last year. We have some guys that we redshirted here that we think are going to be great players," Orgeron told ESPN's Niki Noto Palmer on Wednesday. "Obviously we always want to get the best defensive tackle in the country here at LSU. That wasn't available to us this year, but it's a great year for defensive tackles in the state of Louisiana and across the country and we look to sign a bunch next year."

LSU struck out with inside linebacker Leo Lewis on Wednesday, making the position even more of a concern for new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Kevin Steele over the next year. Only half of the six linebackers LSU signed in 2012 (Lamar Louis, Deion Jones and Ronnie Feist) remain on the roster, and the Tigers signed just two linebackers in 2013 (Kendell Beckwith and Duke Riley) and 2014 (Clifton Garrett and Donnie Alexander) before landing none this year.

Noted recruiters Steele and Orgeron only joined Les Miles' coaching staff three weeks before signing day. That was certainly not enough time for them to make a huge impact in this recruiting cycle, although Wilson said "we couldn't have gotten" Arden Key (ESPN's No. 24 overall prospect and No. 6 defensive end for 2015) without the two new coaches.

However, just wait until this time next year, Miles said, once Steele and Orgeron have had adequate time to connect with recruits.

"In a year you're going to see how good they recruit because they will have relationships that they will carry over for a solid year and then they will have an opportunity to have those men sign with us, first and foremost," Miles said. "But both of those guys know the brand at LSU. Both of those guys played against us. Both of those guys had an opportunity to grow up around this program.

"Ed Orgeron is having a blast being an LSU Tiger and coaching for us and Kevin Steele is, as well. Really it was a natural fit in recruiting. Both guys are professional and know how to do it"
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.

Best SEC recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
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Editor's note: For a look at the national recruiter power rankings based only on Class of 2014 success, click here.

It's no secret that Southeastern Conference has been the top conference in the country as far as recruiting over the last several years. The league currently has six teams ranked in the top 11 of the team recruiting rankings. Here's a look at the top 10 recruiters around the ultra-competitive conference.

Fournette undecided on Texas A&M visit 

September, 14, 2013
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NEW ORLEANS -- Texas A&M, Alabama and LSU must wait until Saturday to learn if running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine) will visit College Station, Texas, for the Aggies’ clash with No. 1-ranked Alabama.

Fournette, the No. 1-rated prospect in the Class of 2014, said on Friday that he’s yet to reach a decision on the recruiting trip.


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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: reasons for LSU fans to be patient, Ohio State's start, and Sonny Dykes reloading.


Patience is a virtue for LSU

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Quinn shows LSU still rules in Louisiana 

August, 18, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- A recruiting class that LSU fans are hoping will be historically significant has been coming together too slowly for many in Louisiana.

Before wide receiver Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) became the highest-ranked member of the 2014 ESPN 300 to commit to LSU on Saturday (Quinn is No. 37 overall and No. 3 among wide receivers), there was much consternation around the state about whether the Tigers would adequately secure what's arguably the most bountiful football prospect harvest the state has ever produced.

Forget finishing with a No. 1 class -- LSU entered this weekend outside the top 10 with a mere 13 commitments.

Trey Quinn
Gary Laney/ESPNWR Trey Quinn is one of six in-state ESPN 300 prospects to commit to LSU in the 2014 class.
If anything, the Quinn commitment should relax those concerns, at least a little.


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Sharieff Rhaheed decommits from LSU 

July, 3, 2013
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The recruiting process was supposed to be over for ESPN 300 linebacker Sharieff Rhaheed (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Central).

The ESPN 300 pick pledged to LSU in March. But Rhaheed never stopped looking at what was out there and he said contact between him and the LSU coaching staff drifted off. That led to Rhaheed's decommitment from the Tigers over the weekend.


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LSU recruiting: Positions of need 

July, 2, 2013
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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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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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Tales from the Road: LSU 

May, 29, 2013
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Every Wednesday, GeauxTigerNation will take a look at LSU's week in recruiting in Tales From The Road.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- It almost felt like football season over the weekend in Baton Rouge.

Fans surrounded Tiger Stadium, tailgating in adjacent parking lots. Then, when the time was right, they poured into the stadium for the main event.

Only this weekend, it wasn't football, but the annual Bayou Country Superfest, featuring Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, the Zac Brown Band and Luke Bryan, who headlined the stadium for Memorial Day weekend.

But it sure did feel like a football weekend, and it just so happened there were football players on campus. Some of the state's top recruits were on hand for LSU's Bayou Picnic event, getting a little taste of a game day.

Happy accident? We think not.

This week's targets: LSU recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson and wide receiver coach Adam Henry were at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans for the New Orleans Karr/New Orleans Brother Martin spring scrimmage.


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Weekly Commitment Roundup 

March, 1, 2013
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ACC
Clemson
Jake McCrary WR Miami/Coral Reef
HT: 6-0 WT: 183
ESPN Watch List

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Paris commit good sign for LSU's future 

February, 25, 2013
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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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LSU gets commit from loaded HS

February, 24, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Donnie Alexander is used to being surrounded by high-end college talent.

Playing for Louisiana Class 4A state champion New Orleans Edna Karr, Alexander played on the same team as 2013 ESPN 300 prospects Standish Dobard (Miami (Fla) signee) and Noel Ellis (Texas A&M) and 2014 watch list prospects Gerald Willis III and Speedy Noil.

Count Alexander among the high-end Karr prospects.

Donnie Alexander
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comNew Orleans linebacker Donnie Alexander committed to LSU on Sunday, becoming the fifth 2014 commit for the Tigers.
The 2014 linebacker was offered by LSU on a weekend trip to Baton Rouge. After returning home and talking it over with his mother, he decided to pull the trigger and commit.

"LSU's the school I always wanted to go to since I was small," he said. "I didn't really want to wait."

The name may be an unknown to fans, who were perhaps expecting one of the 12 Louisiana players on the ESPN Watch List to be the next to commit.

Truth be told, Alexander was surprised, too.

"I was (surprised)," he said. "I really wasn't expecting it. They like my speed. They like that I'm a good tackler. They like that I make plays."

In that regard, he is perhaps comparable to 2013 signee Duke Riley, who share's Alexander's smaller build, but speed that will allow him to be versatile in areas like pass coverage.

"I think I do have good coverage skills," he said. "I get good drops and I'll come up and stick a slot receiver."

And he knows how to win. Karr went unbeaten in 2014, beating a talented Monroe Neville team for the 4A title.

"At Karr, we strive toward winning and being successful young men," he said. "That's what our coaches preach to us. Now that we've won, we have to maintain, don't let it get to our head."

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