We checked out 4 of the linemen/linebackers in this class on Friday. Since then, another big guy has committed. For the moment, we are going to ignore him, but let's go over the other guys.
Elliot Porter is definitely an example of the common theme of LSU recruiting for the 2010 class so far. Porter was a relatively unknown prospect, out of Archbishop Shaw High School in Marrero, Louisiana. Actually, in his case he was not so much unknown as he was unknown at the position he was offered. Porter is a defensive tackle at Shaw, and he was getting a little attention as a defensive tackle, but when he went to LSU's recruiting camp to show his stuff, the coaches decided to try him out at offensive guard, a position he had not played before. The coaches liked him so much that they went ahead and offered him. Before long, he accepted and he will be a Tiger. This is a staff that really likes to move defensive linemen to the offensive line, to inject athleticism into the position. Two of our starting offensive linemen and one of our primary backups this year will be converted defensive linemen. This will actually be the 3rd consecutive year in which two of our starting offensive linemen will have started their careers on the defensive line, as Joe Barksdale took over for at right tackle for another converted defensive lineman, Carnell Stewart.
Why, do you believe, his high school coach put him at defensive line if his best position is offensive line? My guess is that he is the most athletic lineman on his high school team. Athleticism is more essential on defensive line than on offensive line, but he may not be quite quick enough to be a good defensive line prospect at the next level, but with sufficient athleticism to be an offensive lineman at LSU. Perhaps this year, as a senior, he will play both ways at Shaw?
I hope you readers appreciate me watching film after film of offensive linemen in order to write these pieces. Really, they all look just about the same. Evan Washington is a big offensive tackle at 6'5" 285# out of DeSoto High School in DeSoto, Texas. I am generally more comfortable with offensive linemen out of the big Texas programs than I am of Louisiana offensive linemen. It's been a very long time since Louisiana has produced a really good offensive line prospect. I'm not saying all of our offensive linemen are terrible, but if you look at the offensive linemen on the current team, our returning starters are from Texas, Michigan, and Parkview Baptist, but the Parkview Baptist product is a converted defensive lineman. The other starters are from Georgia and New Iberia. The second team consists of linemen from Florida, West Monroe, Parkview Baptist, Tennessee and [unknown as-of-yet]. The last really highly regarded offensive lineman recruit out of Louisiana was probably Andrew Whitworth, who was a senior in 2005. We sign kids out of Louisiana, but LSU puts its offensive line together starting with a core of out-of-state players. I can't really explain it, but for whatever reason Louisiana high schools, which do a marvelous job of developing defensive linemen, don't give us that many really good offensive linemen. Evan Washington is another example of a nice looking offensive line prospect from out of state.
Another dark horse prospect that LSU has taken a commitment from for the 2010 class is defensive end (or linebacker or fullback) Houston Bates of St. Paul's in Covington. Let's face reality. You can look at the guy to the left and guess some of the things that will be said about him. "Overachiever," "High Motor," "Leader," "Hard Worker." I hate white guy cliches as much as the next guy. Bates is way undersized right now to be a defensive end, as he is listed at only 6'2" and about 220#. This leads to thoughts that he might be more of a linebacker or an H-Back or fullback. To be honest, I don't know where the coaches view him, but they obviously like him. One of the things I really like about him is that he has about 10 minutes worth of video from his junior year. In his film, he is disrupting play after play, and getting into the backfield, either to go after a quarterback or to get a running back. He is very productive. When you see someone with only about 2 minutes of film, you can't help but wonder if something is being hidden from you, or if you're getting a very selective view of what a player can do. Not that they can't hide something with 10 minutes of film, but it seems a little better when there is more. I know not to expect to see a player's mistakes or bad plays in a highlight film, but the less film there is the more you wonder if the bad plays outweigh the good ones.
Obviously Bates is not going to be a rushing defensive end at 220 pounds, and you have to wonder what the level of competition is at St. Paul's in Covington. You have to like the quickness he shows getting around those offensive linemen though, and his aggressiveness at the point of attack. When he gets his hands on the man with the ball, that man usually goes down very quickly.