2010 Recruiting: The Little Guys, Part 2 of 2

Recruiting is the life blood of college athletics.  You just can't keep up on the field if you don't keep up on the phones, in the high school coaches' offices, and perhaps most importantly of all, in the recruiting film room.  Just as important as getting that stud 5-star who is going to be a first round pick is finding that under rated 3-star that the competition does not want.  Where would the 2003 team have been without Jack Hunt, Corey Webster, and Chad Lavalais, none of whom were highly recruited?  Where would the 2007 team have been without Jacob Hester, who a lot of LSU fans were upset ever got an offer from LSU?

This is why I never question who the staff chooses to offer.  Sure, sometimes they make a call that ends up backfiring, like the decision not to seriously pursue Dez Bryant, the Louisiana native who committed to Oklahoma State in 2007 and is only one of the 2 or 3 best receivers in the country now.  Rumor has it that the staff was worried about his grades.  Looks like a bad call now, but in general we lay people really have to rely on the coaches to get the best recruiting class they could have gotten.  While they may not have gotten everyone they wanted, we just have to trust that they made the best decisions about which players to take among the ones who wanted to come.

We took a look at some of the players LSU took commitments from yesterday.  Today, we continue this, and some of the players we look at are the dark horses; the ones who aren't necessarily getting lots of attention, including my personal favorite recruit in this class so far:  Sam Gibson.

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I really like this kid.  Sam Gibson is the 6'1" 205# quarterback for the best high school football team in the state of Alabama, Prattville High School.  He plays quarterback for his high school, and in some ways he is an insurance policy in case Zach Lee chooses to play professional baseball instead of football.  But more likely, Sam Gibson is going to find a home most likely on defense, either as a safety or as an undersized linebacker.  He is a nice athlete, though not an eye-popping one like a Russell Shepard.  The strength of his game is his intelligence.  This is a kid who, despite not being a real natural at quarterback, managed to start at quarterback for one of the best high school football programs in the country, running a spread, winning the state championship as a junior.  This is a kid who is going to find a way to help the team.  He is the sort of kid who, no matter what the depth chart looks like, no matter what position he ends up at, he will figure out how to make himself valuable.  That may be at wide receiver.  It may be at safety.  It may be at linebacker.  Even if he has to bulk up and become a tight end or a fullback, he will figure out how to get on the field.

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We searched high and low to find wide receiver Justin Hunter out of Virginia Beach, Virginia.  LSU has not, in the past, recruited the mid-Atlantic states very heavily, but after getting Sam Montgomery out of the Carolinas last year, we moved even further north and tried to get commitments from a number of Virginia prospects.  Justin Hunter is the one who said, "Yes."  Hunter has a good wide receiver build at 6'4" though he will have to get significantly bigger than his current 185# at that height.  He is a phenomenal athlete, boasting a 41" vertical leap and 4.4-4.5 speed.  He looks a little raw in his videos, and I don't really think he plays as fast as his athleticism would suggest.  He is also going to try to be a 2-sport athlete, as he is a standout in track and field as a jumper.  This may limit how he is able to change his body into a football frame, as he may resist adding upper body strength if he's going to be a jumper in track.  Still, his athleticism and his 6'4" height and long arms make him impossible to pass up and a highly coveted prospect.

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Dutchtown safety Eric Reid is not a sleeper.  He has long been considered one of the top in-state prospects in this class.  Eric Reid is an easy kid to root for.  He is a very good student, with a GPA listed above 4.0 due to honors-level classes and an ACT much higher than is typical for an athlete.  If there is one area where this class is really looking very good right now, it is at defensive back, with Reid, Ronnie Vinson, Sam Gibson, and Tharold Simon all projecting to be either safeties or corners.  More may come, as this is a position where it pays to over-recruit, as defensive backs make good special teams players.  Reid is probably not quite as athletic as Vinson or Simon, but he is another prospect who is not afraid to hit, and who has benefited from outstanding coaching to this point.  He is also an LSU legacy, as his father was a track star at LSU.

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So far, the only running back formally and publicly committed to LSU is fullback Brandon Worleof Troup High School in LaGrange, Georgia.  Worle is a really big kid at 6'0" and 245#, and he runs like a truck.  He is projected to be a blocking back, but perhaps more in the mold of a Quinn Johnson, who could be trusted with the ball in his hands.  He is not merely a big lumberer who can hit.  He is also a pretty impressive athlete, with good quickness.  He is not going to juke a linebacker out of his uniform, but if he has to change directions to get through a hole, he can do that.  What I really like about him is that his videoshows him actually blocking, and let me assure you he is not afraid to deliver that hit.  He will probably never have a 100-yard game at LSU, but I imagine that the guys he's blocking for might, and he might get a few touchdowns while he's here.  And like Quinn Johnson, he might get a pass on a fake punt.

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Wide receiver Mike Davis of Skyline High School in Dallas, Texas, is kind of a forgotten man.  He was one of LSU's very first commitments to this class.  This is the kid whose highlight video I criticized for being poorly produced and showing virtually nothing useful about the player.  I still maintain that's true.  We know almost nothing about Mike Davis that is actually reliable.  He self-reports a 4.38 40-yard-dash.  He measures a little small for a receiver, but he is highly respected by the recruiting media, earning 4-star status on both Rivals and Scout.  He's a mystery, but he was at least very productive, catching 58 passes for over 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior.  He is surrounded by talent at Skyline, as they have at least 3 players who will sign with BCS institutions in February.  I am not criticizing him as a prospect, merely confessing to ignorance.  LSU watchers will be all over the Skyline games this year, and I imagine we'll know a lot more about him as a player in a couple months.

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