In the whirlwind world of college football recruiting, it’s how you start AND how you finish.
Upriver in Baton Rouge, LSU Coach Les Miles and his staff have already constructed a broad foundation to the Class of 2013, with 22 commitments secured through Aug. 1, at a multitude of positions.
The Tigers and Tulane have combined for an unprecedented 39 commits as early decision-making remains in vogue and continues to gain popularity with each passing season.
The Tigers’ early windfall includes at least one prospect at every position, save tailback, place-kicker and punter. The Tigers have expanded their recruiting base, one that was once limited to primarily Texas and southeast states such as Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, to one that now includes California, Arizona, Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee and even Pennsylvania.
Recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson attributes that expansion to the obvious – three national championship appearances since 2003, with titles in ’03 and ’07, to complement the first in 1958. But LSU remains steadfast in its allegiance toward the schools within driving distance, Wilson emphasized.
“We will always recruit inside out,” said Wilson. “We concentrate on the state and take care of our home first.
“But we never put boundaries (on recruiting) because we are going after some of the top players in the nation. Our (three) national appearances make players around the country aware of LSU. Our (national) recruitability is a reality because we have a lot to offer. The new SEC contract has blown the doors off. We have two players from Australia and we’re looking as far away as Hawaii.
“We are going after a large number of players because of the attrition rate. A lot of our underclassmen could be leaving us early for the NFL.”
LSU’s Other Recruit Targets (7/31/12)
Pos. Name School, Hometown Ht. Wt.
WR Ricky Seales-Jones, Sealy, TX 6-5 220
WR Jonathan Rumph, Holmes CC, Goodman, MS 6-5 215
NG Rod Clayton, Dadeville, AL 6-1 290
DT Greg Gilmore, South View, Hope Mills, NC 6-4 280
CB Priest Willis, Marcos De Niza, Tempe, AZ 6-2 185
WR Marquez North, Mallard Creek, Charlotte, NC 6-3 205
DE DeMarcus Wallace, Sandelwood, Jacksonville, FL 6-4 280
The numerical breakdown as of July 16 shows that the Tigers have landed 12 players from Louisiana -- two from the seven-parish New Orleans area -- and 10 with out-of-state addresses.
Three state players remain in focus for LSU, including defensive end Tim Williams (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) from University High in Baton Rouge and quarterback-defensive end Kendall Beckwith (6-3, 230) of East Feliciana in Jackson who projects as a linebacker. Both players are being courted by Alabama and a host of interested parties. LSU is also eyeing tight end Deondre Skinner of Patterson, an early Arkansas commit.
LSU and dozens of others are in heated pursuit of defensive tackle Greg Gilmore (6-4, 280) of South View High in Hope Mills, N.C., and one of the nation’s premier cornerbacks with the size of a safety – Priest Willis (6-2, 185) of Marcos De Niza in Tempe, Ariz. Another of national prominence would be huge wide-out Ricky Seales-Jones (6-5, 220) of Sealy, Texas, a former Texas commit, who still has interest in LSU as do other out-of-state plums. (See chart).
In-state, LSU has misfired on very few targets.
At wide receiver, Neville‘s John Diarse, who quarterbacked his Tigers to the Class 4A state championship, will switch from a pitcher to a catcher in college. One veteran LSU assistant rated Diarse as the state’s top junior in 2012. At 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-5, respectively, Chuck Baker of Salmen and Quantavious Leslie of Hinds (Miss.) C.C. present tall targets. Tight end DeSean Smith of Barbe, once a lean to Alabama, brings a receiving threat; tight end Logan Stokes of Northeast Miss C.C. brings blocking ability.
LSU high-jacked, highly-touted tackle Ethan Pocic from Illinois, a 6-7, 285-pounder rated No. 3 in the nation at tackle. Guard Josh Boutee of Westgate has been manhandling defenders at various camps, so much so that it prompted one LSU coach to label him as the state’s premier player. J.K. Malone of Cedar Creek-Ruston has promise and potential but needs to develop. Guard Andy Dodd of Lendale, Ga. switched his commit from Alabama to LSU.
Quarterbacks Anthony Jennings of Marietta, Ga., and Hayden Rettig of Los Angeles bring contrasting styles – Jennings as an athletic, dual threat with the arm and legs, and Rettig as a pure passer with a Winchester arm. Fullback Kennard Swanson of Lakeland Fla. is rated No. 1 nationally at his position.
On defense, the secondary additions standout out numerically and physically. Loranger’s Jeryl Brazil has sprinter’s speed and Tiger coaches are raving about Tre’Davious White of Green Oaks. Recently-committed Rickey Jefferson of Destrehan possesses game-breaking abilities. All three are cornerbacks, which complements 6-foot-3 safety Jeremy Cutrer of Jewel Sumner who, at 175 pounds, will need to add some weight.
LSU’s 22nd addition came on Aug. 1 when cornerback Rashard Robinson (6-2, 165) of Ely High in Pompano Beach, Fla., came aboard. He picked the Tigers from among other pursuers such as Florida State, Miami, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Oklahoma and West Virginia.
Three other defensive additions have been recorded at end. Frank Herron of Memphis excels as a pass rusher. Lewis Neal of Wilson N.C. and Michael Patterson of Winnfield have received high marks from their future coaches and both are solid.
Defensive tackle Tevin Lawson of Denham Springs poses a problem for opposing blockers as does linebacker Melvin Jones of Washington-Marion who’s listed at 250 pounds but has recently added weight that he will need to shed.
This recruiting effort has resulted in a No. 3 national Rivals.com ranking for LSU behind No. 1 Michigan and No. 2 USC, and ahead of No. 4 Georgia and No. 5 Texas A&M. Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Auburn, Florida and Alabama are other SEC schools ranked in the early Top 25.
Six of LSU’s commits are set to enroll early for the spring semester, all on offense: WR Diarse, TE Stokes, OT Pocic, OG Boutee, QB Jennings and QB Rettig. The class appears to be devoid of any serious grade problems but Tiger coaches must sweat out changes of heart among impressionable teen-agers who still have almost seven months remaining prior to the Feb. 6, 2013 signing date.
Linebacker Kain Daub (6-3, 250) of Nease High in Ponte Vedra, Fla., cornerback Chris Hardeman (5-9, 180) of Alief-Taylor in Houston and quarterback-defensive back Devin Voorhies (6-2, 185) of Woodville, Ms., have already committed to LSU prior to their junior seasons, meaning they will have to fend off overtures and won’t be eligible to sign for 19 months.
With at least 10 players still under consideration for three vacancies, LSU faces some daunting decisions about whom to take and whom to turn down. Although Beckwith and Williams have offers assured, out-of-state prospects Gilmore and Willis could create a numerical jam and force LSU into difficult choices. In any case, the last few battles for nationally elite recruits remain pivotal.
“We’re extremely happy with this class,” said Wilson. “But we still need a big finish.”
Worth noting: LSU fans can take some solace concerning recent developments at Alabama, which swooped into Louisiana last year and signed Dutchtown safety-running back Landon Collins, a five-star recruit and arguably the best player produced in Louisiana since Curtis' Joe McKnight in 2005. Alabama felt a similar sting when early commitment Reuben Foster (6-2, 228) from Auburn, Ala., recently switched his pledge from the Crimson Tide to the hometown Tigers of Auburn. Foster is rated either No. 1 or No. 2 nationally at his position. Consequently, Alabama is looking hard at U-High's Williams and East Feliciana's Beckwith.
The New Orleans-area crop will take a giant leap in quality for 2014 when St. Augustine's premier junior running back Leonard Fournette (6-0, 215) as well as Karr's defensive end Gerald Willis (6-3, 255) and quarterback Devante' Noil (5-10, 170) become available. Noil, nicknamed 'Speedy', projects as a wideout-defensive back .
Wilson said there is one word to describe how Miles succeeds once he visits a player's home. "Family," said Wilson, the former head coach at O.P. Walker. "He captures the parents by being a parent himself, by exemplifying and sharing with them what a family means to him. He becomes someone in that family who is sincere and shows an interest in their son. He always says he has 115 kids."
Did you know? The college staff and head coach generally credited with initiating the concept of early recruiting commitments was Penn State under the late Joe Paterno.
LSU 2013 FOOTBALL COMMITMENTS (22)
||HT/ WT/ 40||Commit Date|
Pompano Beach, FL
(James Hunt HS)
(Barbe, Alfred M, HS)
Lake Charles, LA
(Washington/Marion Magnet HS)
Lake Charles, LA
(Lake Gibson Senior HS)
(Lemont Twp HS)
Los Angeles, CA
(Winnfield Senior HS)
(Cedar Creek School)
(Denham Springs HS)
Denham Springs, LA
New Iberia, LA
(Sumner, Jewel M, HS)
(Green Oaks HS)
LSU 2014 FOOTBALL COMMITMENTS (2)
||HT/ WT/ 40||Commit Date|
(Wilkinson County HS)
(Alief Taylor HS)
Ponte Vedra, FL
LSU 2013 commitments, by position (22)
(Through Aug. 1)
Pos., Name Ht. Wt. School, Hometown
WR Chuck Baker 6-2 185 Salmen, Slidell
WR John Diarse 6-0 210 Neville, Monroe
WR Quantavious Leslie 6-4 190 Hinds Community College, Raymond, Ms.
TE DeSean Smith 6-4 220 Barbe, Lake Charles
TE Logan Stokes 6-4 240 Northeast Ms. C.C. (Booneville, Ms.), Muscle Shoals, Ala.
OT Ethan Pocic 6-7 285 Lemont, Illinois
OG Josh Boutee 6-5 305 Westgate, New Iberia
OG Andy Dodd 6-4 320 Pepperell, Lindale, Ga.
OG K.J. Malone 6-4 300 Cedar Creek, Ruston
QB Anthony Jennings 6-2 200 Marietta, Ga.
QB Hayden Rettig 6-4 210 Cathedral, Los Angeles, Calif.
FB Kennard Swanson 6-0 245 Lake Gibson, Lakeland, Fla.
DE Frank Herron 6-5 245 Central, Memphis, Tenn.
DE Lewis Neal 6-1 230 Hunt, Wilson, N.C.
DE Michael Patterson 6-3 230 Winnfield
DT Tevin Lawson 6-4 275 Denham Springs
LB Melvin Jones 6-3 250 Washington-Marion, Lake Charles
CB Jeryl Brazil 5-10 180 Loranger
CB Rickey Jefferson 5-11 185 Destrehan
CB Rashard Robinson 6-2 165 Ely, Pompano Beach, Fla.
CB Tre’Davious White 5-11 175 Green Oaks, Shreveport
S Jeremy Cutrer 6-3 175 Jewel Sumner, Kentwood
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