The Class of 2011 is widely considered to be one of the most talent rich that the state of Louisiana has ever produced. That group included blue chip talent such as La'el Collins, Anthony Johnson, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Jermauria Rasco, Jeremy Hill and Kenny Hilliard. However, the best football player in that class may very well have been East St. John wide receiver D'haquille Williams. Now starring at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Williams committed to LSU on Friday.
Williams spent his first two years of high school at an unaccredited school, so none of his classes counted towards NCAA eligibility. Therefore, he had zero chance of qualifying after his final two years at East St. John, and he was always bound for junior college. That's why he flew under the radar in terms of the national recruiting picture. Most of the recruiting sites didn't even bother ranking Williams.
Despite seemingly having his academics on the right path, Williams still presents a bit of a risk. He's also had his fair share of character and discipline related issues that forced him to bounce around Junior Colleges before finally settling down. But to his credit, he appears to have really matured over the last year, and that helped make LSU's decision to offer him very easy.
Despite him going unnoticed nationally a few years back, those who cover the state recognize his immense talent:
Can't oversell how big this D'haquille Williams commit is for #LSU. Best high school football player I've seen. Huge talent.— Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) May 11, 2013
If D'haquille Williams would have been academically qualified out of high school in 2011, I would have ranked him No.1 overall in the state.— Mike Scarborough (@ScarboroughMike) May 11, 2013
If Cordarelle Patterson is a one-and-done, back half of 1st round NFL pick, D'haquille Williams is one-and-done and top half of 1st round.— Mike Scarborough (@ScarboroughMike) May 11, 2013
As further validation of his talent, 247 Sports ranks Williams with a 100 score for his player rating. Only three others in the entire Class of 2014 have a 100 score (Leonard Fournette, Deshawn Hand and Lorenzo Carter). A year ago, just eight players ranked 100. So we're talking about elite, Top-10 overall type of talent with D'haquille Williams. After finally settling in at Mississippi Gulf Coast, Williams instantly found success, hauling in 67 passes for 1,295 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Right now, the plan for Williams is to finish things up at Junior College in December and to enroll at LSU in January of 2014. That will give him a head start on the 2014 season, and he's the type of talent that can really help LSU as they break in a new quarterback. If Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham remain in the program for their senior seasons, then LSU could be looking at one of the top receiving corps in the entire nation especially when factoring in continued development of guys like Travin Dural and Quantavious Leslie, not to mention the rest of the blue chip true freshmen LSU expects to sign in this class.
As a player, Williams is the big, dominant outside receiver that LSU has been looking for. He's in the 6'3" or 6'4" range and weighs around 210 pounds. He's got excellent speed, hands and leaping ability. He's also very good after the catch and can run routes that most guys his size cannot. He's the whole package. He could certainly use some more polish with his routes and understanding of the game, but that's not unusual. The odds are high that Williams is a "one and done" guy at the college level.
The commitment of Williams was not the only big news on the recruiting front over the past week. Parkway Bossier quarterback Brandon Harris has seen his stock soar during the spring evaluation period. He has recently landed offers from Texas A&M, Ohio State and Alabama along with a number of others. Last Wednesday, Cam Cameron went to see Harris throw in person and immediately offered him on the spot. Cameron was reportedly blown away by what he saw from Harris and in the fast improvement in some mechanical issues that had previously prevented LSU from offering. Harris now jumps to the top of LSU's board for quarterbacks.
The next two months should be interesting on the quarterback front. In addition to Harris, LSU is also hotly pursuing South Carolina's Mason Rudolph and Ohio's Deshone Kizer. LSU is in good shape with both Rudolph and Kizer, and both guys would like to make a decision soon. Harris wants to make several visits this summer before deciding at the end of July. Would LSU accept a commitment from Rudolph or Kizer and then still hope to land Harris? Or do they ask Rudolph and/or Kizer to delay their decision in hopes that LSU lands Harris? Would LSU take two quarterbacks in this class? Are the prospects OK with being in a two-quarterback class? Lots of questions...
I think Rudolph is the safest choice of the three. He's athletic but would be considered more of a pocket passer while Kizer and Harris can provide a true threat as runners. Rudolph has the highest floor as a prospect while Harris has the highest ceiling. So it depends on what you'd like to see LSU do. A year after signing two excellent quarterback prospects, this could be a year that LSU can go with more of a boom/bust guy like Harris.
Kentucky blue-chip quarterback Drew Barker committed to Kentucky over South Carolina and Tennessee over the weekend. With South Carolina missing on their top quarterback prospect, will they now turn their attention to Rudolph? It's certainly something to consider. If LSU decided to take Rudolph, they'd possibly push Harris away to another school, only to lose Rudolph to the home state school later in the process. These decisions can be tough.
Mobile, AL defensive end Justin Thornton made his decision on Sunday, committing to Auburn. After a great visit to Baton Rouge a couple of months back, LSU led for Thornton. However, his teammate committed to Auburn and combined with a recent visit to the Plains, it was enough to sway Thornton and push him to a decision. I love Thornton as a prospect, but his reported academic issues have me not sweating this one too much. He very well may end up eligible. But had he picked LSU, his presence on LSU's commitment list could have deterred some others from considering LSU. Then if he didn't make his grades, LSU would have been left with nothing. At the very least, now LSU can move on.
The Tigers are still the big leader for Oklahoma defensive end Deondre Clark, and his commitment (probably sometime this summer) will fill the void of "elite out of state pass rusher" just fine.
We'd love to see some of the big fish in-state start committing to LSU. I really believe it could set off a domino effect of guys wanting to play together and be a part of a special class, especially among the New Orleans area players. But that first domino has to fall, and it looks more and more likely that these players want to wait until after their high school season before going public with a decision. LSU hosts the "Bayou Picnic" recruiting event at the end of May and then hosts two summer camps, one in June and one in July. Those will be the next big weekends to circle on the calendar.
Some out of state guys could be the next to fall for LSU. Currently, LSU leads for Illinois linebacker Clifton Garrett, and New Jersey wide receiver Saeed Blacknall and both may decide this summer.
D'haqhille Williams Story