Now that the big time HS All-American games have rounded out, I figured I'd give you all an update on how the LSU recruits fared against national competition. Most recruiting services put a good deal of emphasis on the practice week performance of players and use it as a major factor in their final evaluations. Mostly, it's a good opportunity for players all across the country to come together and compete against one another collectively and put their skills on display. Some players make a tremendous climb based off their showings and others will fall if they fail to show out.
LSU sported a handful of commits and targets in both games, and from an overall standpoint, it was a very good couple of weeks for Tiger players. Get the specifics after the jump.
LSU Commits: Jarvis Landry, Anthony "Freak" Johnson, La'El Collins
LSU Targets: Hasean Clinton-Dix, Jadeveon Clowney
I'm going to stick to my guns that Landry is the most slighted player in the country. EVERY recruiting service is obsessed with measureables, and I understand their basis to an extent, but everything about Landry oozes superstar... except for things he cannot change (height, weight, speed [to an extent]). Regardless top end speed and elite size have proven not to be be-all/end-all attributes to a successful wide receiver. Look at a guy like Ryan Broyles at OU, who is basically a carbon copy of Landry in terms of size and speed, and he's likely going to finish as the most prolific WR in school history.
Landry wowed onlookers all week long. He caught everything in sight. Here's a few quotes from the live blog ESPN ran during the practices:
LSU-bound wide receiver Jarvis Landry is perhaps the most well-rounded wide receiver down here. He's physical, much stronger than we thought and has great hands. We thought he was more of a quicker slot guy but he's much more complete than that.
It’s hard to come up with enough adjectives to describe Jarvis Landry’s ability to catch the football. On Sunday he put on a pass-catching show, demonstrating several different styles of pass catching that most receivers spend a career without accumulating. On quick game passes and balls over the middle, Landry snatches the ball out of the air and quickly corrales the football giving him opportunities to make plays after the catch and avoid big collisions. On a deep ball, Landry watched two defenders fall to the ground trying to make a play on the ball as he effortlessly adjusted to the throw and cradled the football, showing his hands at the last minute so as not to alert the defenders. Finally, he displayed the spectacular catch as well, stabbing the ball with one hand on a diving grab that would highlight any practice.
In our opinion, there hasn't been a more impressive receiver at the Under Armour event. Whatever his weaknesses may be, they haven't been displayed this week. Against a standout group of athletic defensive backs, Landry has done a great job getting out of his breaks to create separation. When a pass has been in his vicinity, he has secured it nearly every time. Landry's great body control is another thing that has impressed.
Basically, Landry is a great wide receiver that the scouting services slight because he's not 6'4 and doesn't run a 4.3 (think, the opposite of Xavier Carter). I'm not too worried about whether or not Rivals or Scout think Landry is a stud. He's one motivated individual. He blocks with a tenacity that will get him on the field early next season. Rivals voted him "Best Hands" of the week. If he can stay healthy, I have little concern that he will be a superstar at LSU. Oh, and by the way, Landry also took home the white team MVP and snagged a touchdown. Even still, I don't see the scouting services bumping him to a 5 star... but we all know his true ability. I wouldn't want a single WR in this class over him.
via Shea Dixon
One last tidbit on Landry, Shea tweeted that Deion Sanders told Jarvis he was the most natural WR he had seen since Jerry Rice. Deion is certainly one for superlatives, but nice to see a compliment thrown his way.
Anthony "Freak" Johnson
Freak went to the UA bowl to prove he was the best DT in all of high school football. It seems amazing to me that he hasn't earned his 5th star yet... but I digress. Here's one writer's thoughts on Freak from the week:
Johnson passes the eyeball test like no other prospect in this game and on Sunday, he was back to his dominant self on the field in pads. In this game, he is playing both inside and outside and was extremely active both in position drills and during 11-on-11 work.
Johnson is nicknamed 'Freak' and he has done nothing over the four days of practice to hurt that reputation. An enormous tackle with incredible athleticism, Johnson is dominant when sparring with an offensive lineman. He is able to rip his way through the line and then exhibits incredible foot speed when pursuing in the backfield. Johnson should be the next dominant defensive tackle at LSU.
Unlike Landry, Freak passes the measureable test, and any questions about his ability were put to rest with his week. He was a force all week long in practices and made his impact upon the game be felt as well. Late in the game, Freak made an impressive play to block a field goal, which would have given the White team the victory, but it was ruled an illegal blitz and the game ended. Regardless, no one doubted the skill of his play. Rivals voted him "Most Physical" of the Under Armour participants. I expect Johnson to finally pick up his 5th star in the final batch of Rivals rankings.
Collins, unfortunately, turned an ankle during one of the early practice days of the week. This caused him to sit out at a day and obviously affected his performance. There were talks of him struggling with the likes of Jadeveon Clowney and Xzavier Dickson (not exactly embarrassing). Regardless, there were different results during the game. While Collins played, Clowney (the consensus number 1 player) remained mostly neutralized. After he re-injured his ankle and went to the bench, Clowney began to make plays). That's a statement to his ability.
Collins stock may "drop" but only in the sense that he'll likely fall out of the top 5 and still be a top 10 type of player. For my money, he's the best LT prospect in this class and an outstanding player in general. I expect he'll see the field in some form as early as next year.
-Hasean Clinton-Dix has said that his two finalists are LSU and Alabama, but many suspect this one is long over and he's headed to Alabama. Clinton-Dix had an impressive week of practice.
-Jadeveon Clowney did nothing to dissuade the impression that he's the number 1 player in this class. He may not have put on a Ronald Powell like showing, but he was certainly impressive and his raw ability is probably higher than any player in recent history. LSU may well get Clowney's last visit, although all signs point to him heading to South Carolina.
-Jeff Driskel started slowly but looked like an absolute stud in the 2nd half. The Gators got a good one waiting in the wings (assuming he opts not to take the pro baseball route).
-Louisiana native Bradley Sylve returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown and flashed his blazing speed. Sylve is a terrific athlete who has faced injury troubles throughout high school and is currently committed to Alabama. Many Louisianans were upset with the seeming lack of effort put on Sylve for a commitment, but to me he seems more of a return specialist with some WR potential than a true WR option. Good player though.
U.S. Army All-American Game
LSU Commits: Kenny Hilliard, Odell Beckham Jr.
LSU Targets: Ray Drew, Timmy Jernigan, C.J. Johnson
The nephew of Dalton didn't seem to have the greatest of weeks. Like many of us have suspected, most of the scouts in attendance were concerned about his playing weight. Hilliard is a prototypical big back, but in all likelihood, he will need to trim down a bit before heading to LSU. Most noted that he seemed to be carrying a few extra pounds. Overall, this isn't a major issue. He's an early enrollee and once he begins working out with the team, Moffitt will reform his body. Hilliard never really stood out in practice nor in the game (neither team really had a great display from a running back). I suspect he'll drop some in the rankings (maybe out of the top 100), but he'll still remain a solid four star prospect.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham, on the other hand, impressed scouts all week long. Rivals wrote this after calling him the 4th best prospect on the West:
It was quite clear this week why LSU liked its newest commit as a wide receiver. Beckham showed great football speed, gets in and out of his breaks well, catches everything with his hands out front and is a sharp route runner. He also excels at getting separation consistently. That's just before the catch. Beckham is shifty after the catch. To cap off his week, he led the West team receivers with three receptions for 42 yards in the game.
Overall, Beckham is just a phenomenal athlete that will be a pick your poison stud on the next level. He's been pretty vocal about his desire to play wide receiver, but he's also mentioned in the past that he's open to whatever the coaches think best. I think Beckham could be an excellent wide receiver, but he's got All-American potential at the corner spot. He's fluid and extremely quick and shows good instincts. Scouts commented he was a notch taller than they expected and overall impressions of him were very good. I doubt he's done enough to bump himself up to 5-star status, but I do think he'll move up the rankings a bit and be right on the fringe of highest four stars. He committed to LSU at the game and he is a Tiger legacy.
The word most commonly used with Drew is "raw." He's a big time upside player with remarkable size and athleticism. Rivals offered this review after practice:
Drew showed during the week why he is one of the nation's elite defensive linemen. With tremendous raw physical ability, Drew beat offensive linemen with a variety of moves and even power at times. Over the course of the week, Drew made some mistakes but more than made up for it with plenty of spectacular plays. During the game he had four tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
He was a force during the game and showed amazing closing speed on the QB. I had the opportunity to interview Ray several months back and he's an extremely polite kid who travels around and preaches in his spare time. Many believe Georgia is in the driver's seat for his services, but LSU and Brick Haley made a huge impression on his official visit a couple weeks back. Ray Drew has been my call for LSU shocker commit for this season. I have no information or sources or anything... purely a gut instinct feel of a guy that I think could be the Sam Montgomery/Ego Ferguson where did that come from commit for 2011.
Jernigan is Freak's top competition for the best DT in the country, and I'm sure talent evaluators will have a tough time deciding. Freak is a bigger prospect with more physical upside. But Jernigan displays unbelievable quicks from the position. Rivals ranked him as the 2nd best performer on the East, saying this:
Lynch might have been the most outstanding defensive lineman for the East team over the length of the week but Jernigan blew just about everybody away the first day of practice, then backed it up with a half sack and 1.5 tackles for loss during the game. At times during the week Jernigan just couldn't be stopped. Only fellow top performer Aundrey Walker held him up during one-on-one drills during the first day of practice.
Jernigan was a force during the game and fits the mold of a Drake Nevis-type of disruptive DT.
Opinions vary on where Jernigan is headed, but it seems the general consensus is that it will either be FSU or LSU. Brick Haley has done some phenomenal work recruiting him, but overcoming his state of Florida ties will be tough. However, he and Freak have formed a friendship and apparently he and his father LOVED their official visit here and felt very comfortable. The one downside is that Jernigan wont' be returning to LSU before NSD, so this will fall back on the coach's ability to let this guy know he's a top priority.
-Louisiana native Greg Robinson played guard during the game and greatly struggled. He was manhandled for much of the afternoon during the game and then went down with an injury on the final play. Robinson has tremendous athletic upside, but many of the concerns about him were reared in this game. In all likelihood, he's more of a project lineman that will take a couple years to develop.
-The big news surrounding C.J. Johnson this week came in the way of his decommitment from Mississippi State after the departure of Manny Diaz to Texas. Johnson is an absolute stud MLB prospect and meets a huge need for LSU. Way back when he said LSU was his clear number two and if not for State (in-state school, and his dad is a fan), he'd be headed to Baton Rouge. Many think he will eventually re-affirm to MSU, but he's definitely worth keeping an eye on. If Miles and co. can put the heat on, it would be an absolute last minute steal for a major position of need.
With the news of Jeremy Hill re-committing and the strong performance of our prospects, all-in-all it was the first great piece of recruiting news LSU has had in weeks. Would love to hear you guys' thoughts on the prospects and their futures at LSU.