The new coaching staff has brought a few changes in the recruiting game since we last discussed this topic. A couple of names have recently been mentioned that had previously been sort of off of our radar for one reason or another. This post is to discuss those names.
This fellow is Sulphur, Louisiana linebacker Tahj Jones. One website made a blunder early last year and declared Jones to be an LSU commitment, before having to retract the story. It seems Tahj Jones wanted to commit to LSU, but the coaches decided his academic situation was too risky to justify taking him.
The recruiting season rocked along and people more or less forgot about Tahj Jones. We recruited other linebackers, some of whom committed to LSU and some of whom appear to be going elsewhere. Other schools took an interest in Tahj Jones and it appeared there was no future for the LSU-Jones relationship.
Suddenly, with the hiring of John Chavis as defensive coordinator and linebacker coach, and after some apparent progress in the classroom, Tahj Jones is back on the recruiting scene. It appears that John Chavis is a big fan of Jones. Jones is a Chavis-type linebacker: smaller than average, faster than average, a sideline-to-sideline rover. Tahj Jones is listed at 6'2" and under 190#, and that's pretty small for a linebacker. With his frame, you could probably expect him to bulk up to about 210# or so, maybe more. There's no guarantee he's coming to LSU, and no guarantee he will qualify academically, or that he will ever really and truly get an offer, but he's a name that could get a lot of attention in the near future.
Darrington Sentimore is one of the most talked-about recruits on LSU message boards. He is a DT/DE hybrid out of Destrehan High School, the two-time defending state champions and the high school that produced Jordan Jefferson and redshirting freshman wide receiver Tim Molton, as well as starting Arkansas safety Jerico Nelson. He is listed as a 4-star, and LSU has kept their distance from him for most of the year. After waiting a while for an offer from LSU, he committed to Bama.
Some people believe Darrington Sentimore may be the best prospect in the state of Louisiana this year. His film is outstanding. He was the best player by far on the state champion team in the highest classification in the state. He is a tremendous athlete. He plays a position of need for LSU (though there is depth at DT in the state, but not at DE).
The explanation for why LSU is keeping Sentimore at arms-length is the subject of much disagreement. In addressing this matter, I am in no way suggesting that any of what I am about to say is the truth. I am only repeating the rumors of why LSU has seemingly chosen to pass on a player who is almost certainly good enough of a football player to warrant heavy recruitment.
One of the rumors is grades. The other rumor is character. Some also question his ability and say he has been overhyped, but the general consensus is that the kid is an outstanding talent. It has been said that until recently he had not even attempted the ACT. Without an adequate ACT or SAT test score, you cannot possibly become eligible to play D1 football after high school. He is rumored to be far from qualifying. Others say this is hogwash and that he is within reach of qualifying. These people say that the problem is a deeper one, one of character. They say he is a trouble-maker. That he is not a team player. That he is a 270# Ryan Perrilloux.
I don't know if any of that is true, but for whatever reason, until recently, LSU has done little more than maintain a friendly acquaintanceship with Sentimore. Rumor has it, and this is not what I would call a reliable rumor, that LSU has recently warmed up to Sentimore and is considering trying to turn him away from Bama and back to LSU. It is possible that his academic situation has improved. It is possible that the new defensive coaching staff has decided he is worth the risk. It is possible the rumor is bogus.
I don't know what will happen with Sentimore, but the situation is worth keeping under observation.
By all accounts, Shreveport linebacker Jonathan Stewart is a real high-character kid. The son of a judge, he is intelligent, a good student, a never-give-you-trouble young man. I like his shirt, by the way. He is listed as a 4-star on Rivals, and he has a really nice 6'4" 220# frame for a middle linebacker.
For whatever reason, former linebacker coach Bradley Dale Peveto did not take a liking to him as a prospect. To be fair, in looking at his film, he seems to lack the elite athleticism that is typical of SEC linebackers. He sheds blocks and looks like a really good tackler, but you don't see the burst or the big hits that is typical of a 4-star linebacker's film.
Which is not to say there is no place for a kid like Stewart at a place like LSU. I would compare him to Jacob Cutrera, who has been a very nice depth player for LSU throughout his career. He may not have an NFL future, but Cutrera has acquitted himself nicely and had done absolutely nothing to bring embarrassment to the program. I envision Jonathan Stewart the same way, and word is that Chavis and crew are giving Stewart a second look.
This class already has a very solid middle linebacker prospect in Kevin Minter out of Georgia, and it is tough for me to say that Stewart would be better than Minter. Honestly, Stewart may fit a little better in a 3-4 system (with 4 linebackers playing most downs) rather than the 4-3 system (with only, at most, 3 linebackers on the field) that LSU has run for years. Still, he could very well end up a part of this class, and I'm sure he would be a great Tiger, if not a great football player.
I am a Patrick Patterson fan. This kid has a wide receiver build at 6'3" 215#. He makes highlight reel catches, including a spectacular play at the US Army All-America Bowl Game. He may well have been the best receiver in the game itself, and remember this game included the 5-star #1 overall player in the country (according to Rivals) Rueben Randle. They say he catches everything thrown his way.
Once again, LSU was not much interested in him for a while. The knock on him has always been that he lacks speed. He may lack speed, but when this kid stepped up in competition to take on some of the best high players in the country, he not only held his own, but he excelled. He did not look at all slow to me. He may not be Andre Debose, but I don't think he's Ricky Dixon either, and I think the coaches gave him the cold shoulder because they feared he would end up like Dixon, who apparently just isn't athletic enough to crack the wide receiver rotation at LSU.
Patterson had been committed to Mississippi State, his home-state school. When Sylvester Croom resigned, Patterson decommitted and apparently lost all interest in Mississippi State. With LSU losing out on Debose, and with the DeAngelo Benton saga still having an uncertain outcome, and with Rueben Randle continuing to remain a question-mark (albeit we are somewhat more confident about him than we once were), the word is that LSU coaches are taking another look at Patterson. It is also said that Patterson would really like for LSU to take another look at him.
I really hope Patterson is in this class. I can't say that wide receiver is a real need position, considering the numbers we signed last year (Peterson, C. Tolliver, J. Taylor, Molton) and further considering the potential wide receivers in this class (led by Randle, but don't forget Bell, Morris Claiborne, and Drayton Calhoun). Patterson just looks like a guy who is almost certain to develop into a contributor, and may end up being a really outstanding player in the MIchael Irvin mold (Michael Irvin didn't have elite speed either). Plus, neither Randle nor Benton are sure things at this point.
LSU may well end up not signing any of these guys, and honestly that's probably the most likely scenario right now, but any of these guys could potentially end up Tigers, and I didn't want to ignore them.
Anyway, this has turned into a rather long post. I hope it was worth reading.