Two players in the 2013 LSU signing class that drastically improved their stocks over the course of the year it's Frank Herron and Tre White. Both made the dramatic jump from 4-star top 250 to 5-star.
It's not that Herron was an unknown quantity. He garnered a U.S. Army All-American invite. But I'm not sure recruiting sites realized just how athletic he was. Playing in Memphis, which isn't exactly a recruiting hotbed, didn't exactly help his cause either. He was likely evaluated keeping in mind that he wasn't facing elite competition. But after a week of Army All-American practices, it became clear he was really among the nation's elite.
Herron chose LSU on June 1st last summer. For Herron, it was love at first sight. He was taken by the campus and his relationship with Les Miles and John Chavis. He liked the scheme and obviously having a pair of DEs like Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, along with LSU's rich tradition of placing DL in the NFL appealed to him.
Over the course of the summer, his stock began to skyrocket. He dominated with each new appearance. First in Memphis, then in Baton Rouge, then at the Nike Opening. Evaluators raved about his explosiveness, speed and counter moves. He was unblockable. A cut above the competition. By summer's end he was considered a top 100 player.
Herron showed up in San Antonio ready to prove something and once again impressed analysts, earning his 5-star ranking from Rivals. He stayed at a 4-star on 247, but ranked 75 overall.
All of this makes it somewhat disappointing that Herron reportedly showed up to Baton Rouge out of shape. From what I know of the situation, Herron doesn't come from means and is looking to get the NFL as quickly as possible to support his family. The depth chart is favorable for early playing time had Herron showed up ready to go, but now it seems like that timeline was pushed back. It's impossible to know what agreement Miles and Herron have, whether or not he's been promised PT, etc. There's still time for him to work himself into shape and be on the field as early as 2013.
Herron's film is a little grainy, so we will work with what we got.
Jump to 1:01 and we can see that much raved about explosion. He really gets out of his stance in a hurry in both that clip and the one at 1:12.
At 1:20 we can really see his athleticism. First of all, the fact that his coaches feel comfortable using him in a 2-point stance speaks to his ability. Again at 1:31 we see him in a 2-point stance. Again we see that explosion and what I really love is his closing speed. Once Herron gets his targets in site, they don't get away.
Now check 2:41. More than just explosion, he's got oustanding lateral movement skills. The ability to explode through the line then shuffle down and find the runner is unique. He's not simply a ball of explosive, out of control mass; Herron plays with strong awareness. I like how he uses his hands to defeat blockers. It's more than just blowing by people, he sets them up, and he doesn't allow OL to engage by using his hands to win battles.
At 4:03 you can see his natural power as well, as he completely destroys an OT and buries him into the ground. He's also got excellent pursuit. Watch 5:43 and notice again the explosion and closing ability.
What I Like: Herron has a total package for a DE: size, speed, strength, quickness.
What I Dislike: That he's reportedly come in out of shape.
What I Don't Know: Focus/Mind set. Herron can't show up at LSU and expect anything handed to him. He's going to have to earn it. Showing up out of shape is not a good sign.
Based on early reports, Herron may be behind fellow freshman, Tashawn Bower, who has been impressive. That may really damage his opportunity to see the field in 2013.
But the depth chart is still open enough that I could see Herron making his way into the rotation by year's end, especially if the need for a pass rush emerges. Herron is currently listed at 275, but that's like some bad weight. Last summer evaluations estimated that he needed to add size and bulk. He seems to have done that, but not in a healthy way. So now Moffitt will need to recompose his body a bit, which may not be as difficult as you think.
I still like Herron's overall ability. I have no questions about his immense upside, should be put everything together in terms of work ethic and gym time. I never like to see a kid come into camp out of shape. That's going to put him in an uphill battle from the get go. Now, obviously there is plenty of time, both this season and for his career. If he does wind up taking a RS, you could see a monster jump in him from this year to next.
Now, if he finds his way on to the field this year, that means he's really put in the time. When you look at the depth chart, there's opportunity. Jordan Allen and Justin Maclin are unproven. Rasco is a junior but will likely man one spot. Danielle Hunter is still young and full of potential, but there are no guarantees there. The rest of his competitors are fellow freshmen, of which only Tashawn Bower has really stood out. That means Herron can really be in the mix for PT as early as this year and certainly next season.
There's still so much pass rushing potential here, probably more natural ability than any other DE on the roster. The rub is, he's got to be dedicated. From what I've heard, he's on a fast track for the NFL. In that case, he really needs to buckle down and compete.
High End: All-American and high draft pick.
Low End: Rotational DL like Chancey Aghayere.
Realistic: Starter and solid player as a Junior and Senior.