Did the Mad Hatter find another sleeper?
A common theme when discussing the 2012 LSU offense, became the lack of size at WR. Odell Beckham Jr. is quick and explosive but smallish. Jarvis Landry is tough as nails with generally sticky hands, but doesn't have great size either. Kadron Boone had moments, but again, at around six feet, not the biggest guy out there. James Wright brings some size at 6'2, 190, but he's not a dynamic playmaker. LSU struggled with a go-to target in the red zone without Rueben Randle and no appreciable targets at the TE spot.
The coaching staff continues to work furiously to resolve this. They've already earned commitments from standout TE DeSean Smith (6'4", 222), JUCO WR Quantavious Leslie (6'4", 210), and Avery Johnson (6'2", 180). Leslie will play immediately, and it's hard to imagine DeSean Smith won't get his shots too, considering the loss of Chase Clement and now, Nic Jacobs and the sheer lack of options at TE.
The WR depth chart is fuller, with the aforementioned distinguished targets and a slew of youngsters ready to contribute. On Saturday, that pool grew larger with the commitment of Holy Cross WR, Kevin Spears. Spears committed to Louisiana Tech just last weekend, but the offer from LSU proved too much to resist. He's a late-blooming prospect, without a massive offer list (Tech and San Diego St. are his only others listed), that only started playing football two years ago. His senior season he emerged as a big play threat, earning a class 4A All-State selection. At 6'3", 190, he offers the size the LSU coaches covet for the position.
The tape? Well, the tape is pretty impressive:
It's almost hard to believe he started playing football just two years ago. The size shows up on tape, and he's got good speed to boot. What stands out to me is how natural and fluid he looks. I always look for quickness in and out of routes. I really thought Armand Williams stood a chance to make it at LSU because he's such a speedy, long athlete, but his tape never showed that quickness and he didn't have the route running experience due to the offense his HS ran. Now three years later, Williams has never played an offensive snap at LSU, and frankly his tape was nowhere near the level of Spears.
Spears runs his fair share of fly/go/9 routes, but that's not the only thing in his repertoire. Slants, screens, crossing patterns, comebacks are all thrown in there too. He looks really good with the ball in his hands after the catch. He's tough (around the 3:50 mark he catches a slant while being hit, absorbs the contact and keeps on trucking). He shows some tenacity blocking. He high points the football on jump balls. He adjusts to the ball in flight. In short, he's got the total package on tape.
I haven't spent much time reading up on what others are saying/thinking about this kid. There's going to be a lot of guaffawing from pie-in-the-sky recruiting "experts" that think Spears is taking up a spot of superstar prospects that would want to come here. Two things to that: 1) If the staff really thought Carl Lawson, Rueben Foster, Robert Nkemdiche or another were going to come here, they wouldn't give up a spot. 2) IF they did give up a spot for a guy like that, for Spears, then they think Spears is special. There's no real negative outcome to this decision.
Tape can be misleading going from level to level, but the signs are there. Spears is a prospect with a lot of upside and potential to be tapped into. He already shows signs of meeting that promise. I think there's a good chance he could be a Brandon LaFell type player at LSU, perhaps with a higher ceiling. He could bust out and be nothing. But this is the type of player worth taking a chance on.