Jarrett Fobbs wasn't exactly a headlining member of the 2010 signing class. Though he's regarded as a 4-star prospect on Rivals, and boasts a handful of respectful offers, you'll rarely hear his name mentioned as a guy people are "excited" about. Yet, his recruiting story is among the most interesting of any player in our class.
Fobbs earned an offer early on, back in May of 2009. Yet, two months later he pledged to Texas A&M, surprising much of Tiger nation. Fobbs maintained throughout the recruiting process that he wanted to play WR at the next level. The LSU coaches stood pat with their desires of converting him into a DB. The recruiting battle between A&M and LSU waged on, with Aggie fans feeling confident in their standing. When LSU hired Billy Gonzales, their recruitment of Fobbs kicked into second gear, as they applied furious pressure honing into signing day. Quotes from Fobbs indicate that Gonzales played the Percy Harvin card in his recruitment, planning to use his versatile talents in a variety of ways. On signing day, Fobbs pulled the switch and signed with LSU. But will he be locked into a WR role? That remains open for debate.
Fobbs has the athleticism to be an impact player at LSU, but he's got an uphill climb to overcome the depth chart.Though Fobbs late recruiting updates indicate that Gonzales and staff were pursuing him as a WR, word swirling in recruiting circles is that it was Fobbs who changed his mind, not the LSU coaching staff. However, Fobbs entered camp as a WR. Perhaps a compromise was reached, similar to the Russell Shepard situation? Promise him a shot at the position he desires, but tell him that if it doesn't work out, he will be abruptly moved.
From a depth standpoint, it makes sense to run Fobbs at WR from the get-go. With the lack of depth at the position, having bodies there just for the purpose of running routes for the QBs is important (you see this all the time in NFL camps). Will he remain there is another question entirely. So exactly what kind of a player is Fobbs?
Well he's got a nice build at 5'11, 185. With that type of body, he could play right away in the SEC, but it looks as if he'll be heading for a redshirt season after not cracking the depth chart at WR. Offensively, he was a bit of a do-everything player at Huntington High School (hence the Percy Harvin pitch). Of all the players in this class, Fobbs fits the mold of what we're currently doing with Russell Shepard, closest. On any given play you're bound to see Fobbs line up at QB, RB or WR.
If there's one thing he's not lacking, it's speed. He's listed at 4.45, but he shows an extra gear on tape, often taking the corner when you don't expect it. Beyond his speed, I love his start/stop ability. He flashes the ability to cut on a dime and gets to top speed in a hurry. As a receiver, one of the first things I always look for is how a player high points the ball (goes up and gets it). On more than a few plays Fobbs gets up against a DB, out leaps him, and pulls down the jump ball. I LOVE seeing that. He catches the ball well with his hands, another important trait at WR. From the tape, I think the kid could definitely have the ability to be a talented play maker in our offense. His route running skills will need to be refined, but he's explosive enough that once he learns the finer points, he should be extremely skilled.
There's little tape of him as a defensive prospect, so I can only base my judgments based on his pure athleticism. I mentioned his explosiveness above, and I love seeing that for a future corner. That type of explosion comes in handy when a CB works to jump a route or needs to make up ground after getting slightly beat. Further, Fobbs worked both positions during camp season last summer, and the staff obviously came away impressed with his skills as a defensive back. Ron Cooper typically sports a good eye for talent in the defensive backfield, so I'll trust his evaluations in that regard.
Regardless of where he ends up, Fobbs is the type of athlete you can never have enough of. He also sports the ability to return kicks, which only enhances his value to the team. If I had to guess, I think Fobbs will remain at WR and eventually take on the role currently maintained by Shep, but I wouldn't be entirely surprised if by next spring we're talking about him in the DB mix.
High End: Fobbs has the athleticism to translate into an SEC quality starter. He spent the bulk of the year in the Rivals 250, so it's obvious that some evaluators feel he possesses very good potential. With his size, speed and athleticism, Fobbs may have the opportunity to step on the field as early as next season and eventually work into a role as a multi-dimensional weapon and return threat.
Low End: At absolute worst, I could see Fobbs end up being a victim of the numbers game and never making an impact at LSU. I don't think that will happen, but it's not a possibility you can rule out either.
Realistic: I think Fobbs will remain at WR due to the stark difference he offers to all of the other WR recruits in this class. He's not the big-bodied type that belongs on the outside, so his future may lie in the slot. But what about Jarvis Landry coming in next season? Fobbs will need to distinguish himself next season at the risk of being swallowed up by the depth chart. He's a tremendous athlete that could end up being a very solid SEC starter.
However, I remain skeptical. Perhaps it's LSU's recent history (or lack thereof) of developing smaller receivers (Shep may change this trend). Perhaps it's the numbers on the depth chart. Perhaps it's nothing more than a silly knee jerk reaction. By all means, I would love to see Fobbs develop into an absolute stud and continue the hybrid role we seem intent on incorporating into our offense.