From Sunday through Wednesday, LSU hosted the largest group of elite prospects at a camp event that I've ever seen. On Monday alone, 17 of the Top 247 prospects in the nation according to 247 Sports were on campus, and that includes seven of the Top 32. Also included in that number were numbers one and two on that list. In terms of getting blue chip talent to Baton Rouge in order to spend time on campus with LSU's staff and with each other, this camp could not have possibly gone any better.
Monday was the first full day of camp and was absolutely loaded with stars.
For starters, West Monroe offensive tackle Cameron Robinson was in attendance and working out. As most know, LSU is locked into a recruiting dogfight with Alabama for Robinson's services, so it was nice to see him at LSU interacting with LSU's coaches and hanging with a number of LSU commitments and targets. LSU commitment Will Clapp spent a great deal of time with Robinson trying to build that relationship and sell the idea of playing together in college. With Robinson's numerous trips to Tuscaloosa this year, LSU certainly helped themselves this week by having him around LSU for a while.
Star running back Leonard Fournette was also out there on Monday. Fournette has not taken too many campus visits lately and when he has, they have been to LSU. His performance at camp did not disappoint, and LSU continues to be in great, great shape with Fournette.
Staying in state, Karr standouts Speedy Noil and Gerald Willis also worked out on both Monday and Tuesday. Nobody was sure whether Speedy would attend or not, so his showing up is a very positive sign. Speedy doesn't make too many trips, so his presence at LSU was certainly noted as a positive. From all accounts, he put on an absolute show at camp. His routes, burst, and speed were on full display, and he was essentially uncoverable. As for Willis, he left no doubt that he belongs as a national Top-50 player. Despite his weight which is approaching 270 pounds, he still showed enough quickness and pass rushing ability to be a force at defensive end. I think LSU is in great shape with both guys.
John Curtis receiver Malachi Dupre really excels in camp settings. He tested off the charts with another fast 40-time and vertical leap of over 42". He left little doubt as to why Scout.com ranks him as the number one receiver in the nation. In my opinion, Dupre continues to be all LSU right now, but he's about to visit a few more schools, and those can always change things.
Sticking with receivers, Barbe's Trey Quinn also worked out and as usual, he put on a show. Precise routes, speed and excellent hands stood out once again. The rumor mill was cranked up that Quinn could pull the trigger for LSU on Monday evening after meeting with LSU's coaches. However, he returned to Lake Charles without committing. Regardless, LSU looks to be in great shape here and I'd be a little surprised if Quinn did not commit to LSU within the next two weeks.
Parkway quarterback Brandon Harris surprised many by showing up on Monday to work out. After visiting Auburn last week, he told several people that he was not going to attend LSU's camp. But...he did. Harris is set to announce his decision on Thursday afternoon between LSU, Auburn and Ohio State with most considering LSU and Auburn the favorites. Harris had previously said that he would notify the schools of his decision on Monday. Well, Auburn took a commitment from quarterback Sean White on Tuesday. So, connecting the dots on this one isn't too difficult. I expect good news for LSU on Thursday afternoon. As for his performance at camp, LSU's staff was reportedly wowed once again with Harris's talent. Harris has a big-time arm but was, at times, showing off some elite accuracy, too.
Neville defensive back Hootie Jones was also in the house, but did not work out a whole lot. As a result, he didn't find his way onto any of the "Top Performers" lists from those who were watching. He was seen hanging with former Neville teammate and former Tiger John Diarse quite a bit on Monday.
Plaquemine defensive lineman Davon Godchaux worked out on Sunday but had to miss Monday. He returned on Tuesday for a visit with his father in tow and both reportedly had a great meeting Tuesday evening with LSU'a coaches. Word spread like wildfire on Wednesday afternoon that Godchaux had committed to LSU, but that genie was quickly put back in the bottle by Godchaux, who is adamant that it was just a misunderstanding. My guess: Godchaux committed to the coaches but wants to "go through the process" and take his visits before officially announcing in December. I'd say you can write his name on the commitment list...just do it in pencil.
Covington defensive lineman Garrald McDowell was also there working out, and he's another that performed really well. I think LSU will probably land McDowell pretty soon.
LSU commitment Garrett Brumfield did not attend on Monday, but was out there on Tuesday and Rivals.com named him the top overall performer of the day on Tuesday.
John Curtis linebacker Kenny Young was also out there on Tuesday and from all accounts, showed why he's a nationally ranked prospect. I'm a huge fan of Young's and hope he finds his way into this class.
And that's just some of the in-state guys. Beaumont stud cornerback Tony Brown was there, along with LSU commits Ed Paris and Chris Hardeman. Brown's performance was as you'd expect. He's such an athletic marvel that you'd be shocked if he didn't completely wow everybody. He seemed to be bonding well with other LSU commits and targets such as Ed Paris and Malachi Dupre.
Paris also had a great camp, running a sub 4.5 in the 40, which is excellent for a defensive back with his size.
Also on hand was New Jersey wide receiver Saeed Blacknall, who has long been considered a lean to LSU. Blacknall visited campus with his parents and most assumed he would commit while on his visit or shortly after. He left without pledging to Les Miles and took a scheduled trip to Alabama before returning home. Some speculate that Blacknall may be rethinking LSU since he was able to witness all of the receiver talent at camp. But let's wait and see what the next couple of weeks bring. I still would not be surprised if he pulls the trigger for LSU before summer is out.
New LSU commitment John Battle was also on hand, showing his stuff from the safety position. Battle looked impressive in photos, at a legit 6'2" 185 pounds.
Devin Voorhies, another LSU commitment, was also out there, and he surprised some folks with how well he tested and performed. He reportedly worked out at both receiver and safety, but looked a little bit better on the defensive side of the ball.
It was very encouraging to see pictures and hear accounts of all of the above guys hanging out together and bonding. It could go a long way to LSU securing damn near all of these players and locking up what would be the best class that LSU has ever signed.
Under The Radar
Camp is always a place where lesser known prospects can show their stuff in front of LSU's staff to peak their interest. With all of the stars on hand, that proved even more true. If someone showed they could hang with the elite prospects, then maybe they'd convince LSU to take a harder look.
That's exactly what Evangel defensive back Santos Ramirez did on Monday. Ramirez is a 6'1" 170 pound defensive back with excellent speed who held his own against the likes of Dupre, Quinn and Noil. In doing so, he earned an offer from LSU. I suspect he won't take too much longer before accepting it. I was impressed by Ramirez's highlights. His speed translates very well to the field, and he makes a lot of plays on the ball. He reminds me a bit of Rashard Robinson as a prospect.
Some other in state athletes such as Russell Gage, Donovan Wilson, and Jared Cornelius represented themselves well. Even though these guys are not in LSU's plans, perhaps the accounts of their performance will lead to more attention being thrown their way in the near future.
LSU's staff always have an eye towards the future at their annual camp. It was at this event last year when we all learned who Malachi Dupre was and it's where Trey Quinn showed that he was much more than a guy who puts up big stats. This year was no different. The camp was loaded with big-time prospects for the Class of 2015 and beyond.
LSU's lone commitment for the Class of 2015, Florida defensive back Kevin Toliver, was on hand. He showed why ESPN recently ranked him as the #2 rising junior in the nation. He held his own against the elite receivers on hand.
Warren Easton receiver Tyron Johnson is the early favorite to be Louisiana's top prospect next year, and he showed his stuff. West Feliciana receiver Jazz Ferguson impressed with a solid 40 time in the 4.5 range at 6'5" 205. Johnson already holds an offer from LSU, and I'm not sure LSU will wait too much longer before offering Ferguson.
It did not take long for East St. John defensive back Xavier Lewis to earn an offer at camp. Already thought to be one of the top Louisiana prospects in next year's class, Lewis proved it by showing out on Sunday.
Houston offensive lineman Tyler Higby, a relative unknown prior to Sunday, checked in at 6'5" 285 pounds and quickly earned an offer. He'll be one to watch for next year.
LSU has issued two offers to running backs for the Class of 2015 and both Nick Brossette and Derius Guice were at camp. Lakeshore's David Ducre also camped every single day, just like he did in June, and he once again impressed. Ducre looks the part of a SEC caliber back, but he may need to be patient as it relates to an offer from LSU.
Pine High school athlete Derrick Dillon turned in a blazing 4.38 40 time on Sunday, grabbing everyone's attention. Without a doubt, LSU's staff noticed. He worked out on both offense and defense.
Catholic New Iberia quarterback Jason Pellerin worked out for Cam Cameron on Tuesday and was reportedly the best looking underclassmen quarterback out there. It's obviously very early, but the 6'3" 210 pound dual threat quarterback looks to be the early favorite to receive an offer from LSU. Florida's Chris Riddle was also there and performed well.
Karr defensive end Isaiah Washington, Warren Easton linebacker Arthur McGinnis, and Calvary Baptist defensive tackle T.D. Moton are some other big in-state names for 2015 that were in attendance. Moton has an offer from LSU.
Many's Garrett Thomas, Mandeville's Grant Burguillos and Franklinton's Adrian McGee are all planning to attend LSU's lineman camp this Saturday, and all are candidates to receive offers.
Going way into the future, the state is just loaded with stud running backs. 2016 running back Devin White from Springhill already has offers from LSU and Alabama. And I'm sure you've already heard of 2017 Dylan Moses phenom at U-High. Both guys were out at camp.
East Ascension running back Sione Palelei worked out for LSU's coaches at camp Wednesday, earned an offer, and accepted it on the spot.
Palelei has been tearing up the camp circuit this summer, turning in impressive 40 times and showing off his versatility. At the same time, LSU continued to look for a second running back in this class, with the first spot permanently reserved for Mr. Fournette. With Palelei scheduled to attend LSU's camp, I could see the stars lining up that Palelei may earn an offer. That's exactly how it went down.
Palelei waited until Wednesday before working out for the coaches, and he checked in at 5'9" 200 pounds. He then ran a 4.45 in the 40 and turned in a 38" vertical leap.
Personally, I think Palelei is far and away the second best running back in the state this year, and I was hoping LSU would offer him. His highlights show off excellent versatility, and he looks like someone who can be a true asset in the passing game. He's also got great burst and acceleration and likes to get going north/south quickly. He is a little smaller than the running backs you're used to seeing at LSU. But classifying him as a "change of pace" guy would be a mistake, in my opinion. He may never be the true workhorse that gets 20 plus carries in a single game. But he can absolutely handle 15-20 touches a game as part of a two-man running back rotation. It sure doesn't hurt that his skills really compliment those of Fournette.
200 pounds is smaller than your typical SEC work horse, but at just 5'9", that weight is distributed well. He's compact, tough and difficult to tackle. And he'll also continue to gain weight. Palelei's 200 pounds is right on par with other shorter backs such as Mark Ingram and Ray Rice at the same stage of their career. And Cam Cameron certainly knows about how to utilize a back like Ray Rice.
In 2012, Palelei rushed for 828 yards on 111 carries and caught 23 passes for another 283 yards.
For now, the recruiting services don't think all that highly of Palelei, but I suspect that will change once they pay him more attention. Here is how they rate him:
247: #14 All Purpose Back, 3 stars
Rivals: #20 All Purpose Back, 3 stars
ESPN: #57 RB, 3 stars
Scout: 3 stars