Dead period started today, so I figured, what better time for a recruiting update? I've slacked on my duties, so I'm hoping to bring everyone up to speed on the [mostly complete] recruiting class to date. A few major targets still remain on the board, but I plan to devote an entirely separate post to these guys. For now, let's turn our eyes to the recruiting class to date.
LSU currently sits at 21 commitments. I don't really have the time/interest/energy at the moment to calculate how much attrition will be required for LSU to ink a full class, but rest assured, there will be some. Playing in another National Championship certainly helps our recruiting prowess, but titles typically pay their dividends the next year in the recruiting world. That being said, the endless media coverage for LSU certainly only favors us for this year, next year and likely the next decade as young kids grow up seeing us constantly and we become a "dream school." Back to the subject at hand: 21 commitments. Let's learn more about them after the jump...
I'm going to lump these guys by position, since I believe that makes the most organizational sense. Additionally, some of them will simply be positional guesses by me.
None... so far.
Grade: Incomplete. By Miles' own admission, we want an elite QB in this class. It's looking like that will be Anthony Alford... the question is... will he forgo his pro baseball career? Gunner Kiel is a possibility, but we'll get into that later...
None... so far.
Grade: Incomplete. Jeremy Hill is a possibility here and stands a good chance at winding up at LSU in the fall. Regardless, we're so young and loaded at RB, who in their right mind would want to come here?
Davante Bourque (2012 ATH) Junior Highlights - Elite Scouting (via EliteScouting)
Bourque is a bit of an interesting story. Originally Bourque committed to Texas A&M, before switching to LSU in June. Though he committed in the summer, there's still constant murmurings of him wanting to look elsewhere because a) he wants to play RB and b) he wants to be THE MAN. Bourque is certainly considering other options. His dad says he wants to play at home, but that comes after an article talking up the other schools he's considering. So it's all... puzzling. Regardless, for now, Bourque is an LSU commit.
I actually quite like his game. Bourque plays RB in high school but his naturally tall, slender frame (think Rueben Randle) makes be think he'll transition to WR. There isn't a ton of tape of Bourque catching the ball, but he's tremendously explosive and gets to top speed quickly. Obviously his route running ability will be raw, but that type of sudden-burst ability typically means the transition is probable. Bourque has pretty good long speed, and he's a one cut and go type of runner. If he sticks, I think he can be an impact type of WR at LSU.
Travin Dural, 6'2, 170, Breaux Bridge, LA
Travin Dural#1 (via travindural123)
Dural continues the pipeline to Breaux Bridge, and he looks to be a good one. Dural plays in a run-heavy offense in HS, but he's still put up impressive numbers. Perhaps Dural's best trait is that he has a "my ball mentality." He attacks the football, and I LOVE seeing that from a WR. He's got naturally long arms and a good frame as well. Dural reminds me a lot of Jarvis Landry - tough, tenacious, not a burner, but will fight you for the football.
HS teammate of Dural, Holmes is basically a take because of his elite speed. I'm not a huge fan of Holmes' overall game. He's too much of a body catcher and doesn't look terribly natural playing WR. However, once he gets the ball in his hands, look out, because exciting things can happen. ESPN lists him as timing at a 4.58, but that was surely an off day. Holmes is more like a 4.4 guy. There isn't a ton of great tape out on there on him. This is take purely on the speed upside, and he's the lone speed WR in this class. He's got a decent frame to add muscle to, but he's a long ways from being ready to play for LSU.
Avery Johnson, 6'2, 180, Pompano Beach, FL
Avery Johnson #86 WR ELY H.S. C/O 2012 (via TheCoachFB)
If you didn't know by now, Avery is the younger brother of Patrick (Johnson) Peterson, affectionately known around these parents as Zod. Avery isn't quite the physical specimen that Patrick was (frankly, who is?). That being said, he's pretty damn gifted. Johnson is a big-bodied kid with plenty of room to add muscle and moves very well for a "big WR." The summer of his Junior year Avery reportedly "burned" DeAnthony "Black Mamba" Thomas at a USC camp. Thomas, if you didn't know, is considered one of the fastest athletes in all of college football.
Many compare Avery to Jarvis Landry, and I can see why. He's got that same physical attitude as well as the "my ball mentality." However, Avery is quite a bit more purely gifted than Landry. He plucks the ball out of the air with his big, soft hands. He shows more than a willingness to block, often putting guys into the dirt. He's big and tough to bring down. To me, Avery has all the makings of an elite WR. I'll liken him to a Dwayne Bowe... with more natural pass catching ability.
Grade: B+. The staff is obviously anticipating some attrition here, because the current LSU WR corps are extremely young, and you wouldn't guess there'd be room for 3 or 4 more guys (depending on Bourque). Only thing keeping this from an A is that I don't quite understand why the emphasis on adding so many young WRs.
Dillon Gordon, 6''5, 250, River Ridge, LA
A John Curtis kid committed to LSU? I kid, but really? Gordon is a big, big kid. Reminds me a lot of current LSU TE Nic Jacobs in HS. The tape is almost laughable, because he's just so much bigger than almost all of his competition, and he's routinely bowling them over based on brute size/strength. I will say, the main difference between he and Jacobs is that Jacobs, when motivated, sometimes looked like the best athlete on the field.
Gordon is a bit more rigid. But he's definitely got some power to him. It's no secret that Les likes his blocking TEs (Joseph, Mitch), and Gordon looks to be in that mold. I though Jacobs would eventually transition to the OL, and I can see the same for Gordon. But I wouldn't be shocked if he remained as a blocking TE. It's tough to get a great gauge from his tape, when he basically just stands up and plows into a 5'8, 140 pound DE who is obviously terrified of him.
John Thomas, 6'5, 250, Bossier City, LA
John Thomas Highlights (via 247SportsStudio)
While Gordon is almost exclusively a blocking TE, Thomas looks to be the first two-way TE we've seen in several years. Richard Dickson is about the closest we came, and while he was a tremendous pass catcher, his blocking left a lot to be desired, mostly due to his smallish frame. Thomas has the natural size to affect the running game as a blocker. However, he also displays the athleticism and catching ability to be a threat in the passing game.
Thomas is a big kid and Airline High uses him as a WR, at times. What I really like about his game is that he catches the ball with his hands, and he looks really natural doing it. He doesn't have great speed or anything, but he does move pretty well considering his size. I'll say it right now, and you can quote me: Don't be surprised if John Thomas features heavily into the TE mix next season. When you look at the depth chart, there's not a lot standing in his way. Clement obviously returns for his Sr. campaign, but beyond that Travis Dickson and Tyler Edwards have done little to distinguish themselves and Nic Jacobs is likely more inclined for a role similar to Mitch Joseph. There's certainly a scenario where I could see Thomas being the primary receiving threat as a TE. He still needs to refine his blocking ability, but if he comes to LSU ready to work on that, he will be in line for playing time, as he will be the most natural pass-receiving TE on the roster.
Grade: B+. Overall, I give the position a B+ rating, because I really think Thomas is a tremendous find. Gordon doesn't blow me away, though Mitch Joseph's tremendous job this year proves it's a spot worth recruiting for.
Vadal Alexander, 6'6, 310, Buford, GA
Vadal Alexander Buford HS 2010 (via hsfprof)
Alexander is, arguably, the best player in our entire class so far. Watch the first block on that tape and get excited. Yes he fired out of his stance. Yes he got to the second level. Yes he found a linebacker. And yes, he put his dick in the dirt. Check, check, check, and check. Vadal is a bully, and I like it. He knows how to finish a block. He's 6'6, 320 lbs., but he doesn't lumber. He has the natural size/ability to be a very good tackle.
That being said, to me, he looks like an All-Pro guard. We often ask our guards to pull and trap so it's important they be mobile guys. Vadal gives you that athleticism, but also a brute punch. If you've paid attention to Chris Faulk and Will Blackwell this year, you've noticed they are two guys who like to get dirty... they play nasty and mean and ugly. Vadal has that. It's the thing that never made Joseph Barksdale elite at LSU. I can't describe it. Some guys do it, some don't. But when you flip on the tape, you can see it clearly. Alexander is nasty. Don't get me wrong, he has his weaknesses. Like most tall linemen, he often comes off too high and his pad level will need work. But he has really light/natural feet and a tenacious that I just love. This kid is gonna be player.
Derek Edinburgh, 6'8, 320, New Orleans, LA
Derek Edinburgh Highlight Tape-Edna Karr Offensive Tackle (via brisco504)
First of all, Edinburgh's natural size makes him look worthy. 6'8, 320? He's a monster. Edinburgh can probably slap his knees without bending... lord a'mighty he's got some long arms. He looks like a prototypical pass blocking tackle.
Edinburgh committed in July, which is fairly late in the summer for a non-national, local kid who was a known commodity. Honestly, watching the tape, I can see why LSU was probably slow-playing him a bit. Edinburgh has some physical tools, but he doesn't blow you away. He kinda lumbers around and he doesn't show that nasty ferocity like Alexander (if you want to see what I'm talking about, compare their tapes). He looks a lot more natural as a pass blocker, and his long arms certainly give him an advantage. All that being said, he's a big, thickly built kid. I see him as more of a project lineman, and it wouldn't shock me if he either never saw the field or it took him a while.
Reid Ferguson, 6'2, 235, Buford, GA
Ferguson is the best long snapper in the country. LSU needs a long snapper. End of story.
Jerald Hawkins, 6'7, 285, Baldwin, LA
Jerald Hawkins #9 DE/DT/OT/TE Class of 2012 (via hitchngodeep)
This is a kid I go back and forth on. On the one hand, I think his build naturally says, "Offensive Tackle." On the other hand, I think John Chavis might look at his natural size and athletic ability and say, "John Henderson." I'm lumping him in the OL because that is where Rivals and Scout both list him. Hawkins is a great athlete. He started throwing shot put last year. Went ahead and won State while he was at it. He plays basketball. You can tell on tape, he can move around.
Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest to see him wind up at DT. Most of the tape on him is extremely shitty quality, so it's hard to get a great gauge, but he looks like an athlete. Really like his upside.
Patrick Miller, 6'7, 260, West Palm Beach, FL
Patrick Miller - SunshinePreps (via SunshinePreps)
Oh yes! Two mean-ass linemen in one class? Like manna from heaven. Miller, like Alexander, is just a bad ass mean dude. Unlike Alexander, he's a bit thin and will need several years to put on the good weight to play in the SEC.
Regardless, just watch the tape. Miller moves around exceptionally well, and he's got a natural toughness that you want in your linemen. He reminds me a good bit of Josh Dworacyzk, except meaner. Both were tall, athletic, but really thin linemen coming out of HS. Josh D. put in the work to get himself onto the field early for LSU. Patrick will need to do the same. I do believe his upside is much higher than Dworacyzk's, as Miller is already naturally a brute, even with his slight frame.
Grade: A+. Alexander and Miller are tremendous prospects. I also love Hawkins, even if I believe he will end up on the defensive side of the ball. Edinburgh is the only player from this bunch that I'm not thrilled with, and even he has such great size it makes obvious sense why you take a chance on him. All in all, we continue to load up our line with phenomenal specimens.
Overall, a really good offensive class. I believe that Avery Johnson, Travin Dural, Patrick Miller, John Thomas and Vadal Alexander are all potential future stars from this crop. LSU needs to land a QB, but there are a few remaining targets on the board. Other than adding a QB, LSU is probably done recruiting on this side of the ball.