Jeez! I know it seems absurdly early for us to be thinking about recruiting for the 2010 season, but I assure you that it has begun in earnest for the coaching staff. Hell, I know they've been on top of it for months now.
I don't know much about 2010 recruiting, except for a few prospects out there. I know that running back Lache Seastrunk of Temple, Texas (pronounced like Lake) is a big fish for us for the 2010 season, and that the coaches feel good about him. I know wide receiver Trovon Reed of Thibodaux is probably the biggest in-state recruit (though I don't think he'll make 5-star status, but I could be wrong).
But that's not the point of this post. I want to talk about LSU's needs for this coming class. I think college coaches are doing their best when they plan to recruit a full team every two years, filling all the roles you'd need to fill on a team in two years. With that in mind, our starting point for looking at 2010 needs is to look at who we signed for the 2009 class, in particular the numbers:
1 pure quarterback (Chris Garrett)
1 pure running back (Michael Ford)
1 pure wide receiver (Rueben Randle)
1 athlete who may end up at QB, but may end up at WR (Russell Shepard)
2 athletes who may end up at RB, WR, or maybe on defense (Drayton Calhoun, Morris Claiborne
1 athlete who is probably a fullback, but may be a running back (Dominique Allen)
4 pure offensive linemen (Stavion Lowe, Chris Faulk, Carneal Ainsworth, Josh Williford)
2 defensive linemen who could possibly be moved to offensive line (Josh Downs, Michael Brockers)
2 defensive tackles, one of whom could move to offense (Chris Davenport, Josh Downs as the potential mover)
3 defensive ends, one of whom could move to offense, one of whom could move to DT, and one of whom looks like a pass rusher (Bennie Logan, Michael Brockers, and Sam Montgomery as the pass rusher)
1 JUCO transfer who is a DT/DE combination (Akiem Hicks)
1 pure middle linebacker (Kevin Minter, who I think is very underrated at 3-stars)
3 other linebackers (Lamin Barrow, Tahj Jones, and Barkevious Mingo)
2 athletes who will probably begin their careers on offense, but could move to corner (Drayton Calhoun and Morris Claiborne)
3 safeties, one of whom looks like a total stud (Craig Loston (stud), Rockey Duplessis, and Josh Johns)
1 punter (Derek Helton)
Taking a look at that, you can see that the uncertainty about where Calhoun, Claiborne, Allen, and some of the defensive linemen muddies the waters we're trying to look through.
It looks like we need wide receivers and running backs, but if Calhoun and Claiborne are put there and excel, the need is not as great at those positions. It looks like we need a few offensive linemen, but if Josh Downs is a center like has been suggested, the need again is not as great.
In any event, what we need and what we want are probably two very different things. The way I see it, you want more than you need. The coaches can fill their needs with a handful of recruiting slots left over to take the best players available regardless of position.
No matter what happens with Claiborne and Calhoun, wide receiver and running back are huge needs for this class. I would think we'll need to sign 2 running backs regardless of what happens with Calhoun, and at least 3 wide receivers irrespective of where Claiborne ends up. We could end up signing even more than that at those positions. If they get moved to CB, add one more to those tallies. Russell Shepard could eat into that number if he ends up at receiver.
The need at running back is obvious, as we have signed only 2 pure running backs in the last 3 years. After Charles Scott and Keiland Williams leave, the depth there will get very thin unless we sign some good ones this year. The need at wide receiver is not as great, despite the small 2009 class, as the 2008 class of wide receivers was rather large. We'll still need a few though.
If Russell Shepard is a quarterback, we don't need any quarterbacks in this class. If Russell Shepard moves to wide receiver, the need for a QB becomes great. Chris Garrett is a fine prospect (also, I think, underrated as a 3-star), but it would be a huge mistake to not have some competition to be Jordan Jefferson's successor. Even if Shepard stays at QB, I would expect us to sign a QB, though we might have a hard time finding a blue-chipper who wants to start early in his career, because of the presence of Shep there. We might be stuck signing someone whose ambitions don't rise much beyond being a good team player and quality backup.
We need to sign at least 2 offensive linemen, including a pure center, unless Josh Downs is moved to center, as has been suggested. Once again, I'm sure Les Miles wants more (he always oversigns there), but the need is probably only 2.
I don't see any great need for defensive linemen in the next class, though I am sure we will sign several. We have signed big classes at defensive line each of the last two years. The numbers there are good, and we can be very selective at that position next year.
LSU signed a big linebacker class in 2009, with 4 signees and a fairly big class in 2008 with 3 signees. I expect us to be rather selective at this position. I would expect the needs to include 1 linebacker, particularly a middle linebacker, though I think we will likely sign at least 2.
Cornerback is a huge need for the 2010 class, with no pure corners signed in 2009. I would expect us to sign at least 3 cornerbacks.
Safety is not a huge need for 2010, but I think I can conservatively say we need at least 1 safety. Craig Loston looks great, but Josh Johns is a bit of a project, and no one quite knows what Rockey Duplessis brings. Luckily, there is a very highly regarded safety out of Dutchtown High School (Eric Reid) who many people think is going to be an early commitment to LSU.
With Josh Jasper heading into his junior year as the heir apparent to Colt David as the field goal kicker, and maybe taking over every special team kicking/punting duty as well, and no one really out there behind him, I think it is imperative that we sign 1 kicker and 1 punter in the 2010 class. They can be walk-ons or scholarship players, as long as they're good.
That makes, by my count, 14 positions of need for LSU in 2010, though some could be filled with walk-ons. I would expect we would sign close to a full class of 25, though we cannot be sure. That would leave 10 or 11 slots for playing around. At this point, I have only vague ideas of who LSU is looking at to fill those slots, but I'll give you more as the season heats up.