Tight-ends see the field a lot at LSU. They just do. And with the graduation of Chase Clement and the departure of Nic Jacobs from the program, playing time is really up for grabs heading into 2013. In recent years especially, LSU has always relied on a big tight-end as another big body on the line to help out in the running game and with pass protection. And Les Miles has never been afraid of putting two tight-ends on the field at the same time, either. LSU's tight-ends haven't put up big numbers as receivers in recent years, but that's mostly because they haven't had the guys with those kinds of skills. But as far as seeing the field a lot, LSU is a good place for a tight-end to be.
That early playing time was one thing that caught the eye of Logan Stokes once LSU starting showing some interest in him while at Northeast Mississippi Community College. A visit to LSU for the Bayou Picnic in May of last year resulted in an offer and a near immediate commitment from Stokes. That was it for the recruitment of Stokes. He enrolled in January and took part in spring practice.
Stokes was recruited out of high school as a linebacker and defensive end, but his junior college coach thought his future was on offense Stokes decided to give it a shot, and he must have done something right to catch the eye of LSU's staff. Stokes is still learning how to play the position but seemed to make pretty good strides this spring. LSU lists Stokes a 6'5" 251 pounds, and he's definitely more in the "blocking tight-end" mold.
#85 TE Logan Stokes Soph. Highlights by Geaux247 (via Sonny Shipp)
Unfortunately ,we don't have a ton of film on Stokes to really look at. And what we do have is primarily blocking, and it's tough to pick out Stokes. But a few plays did stand out which give us an idea of the things Stokes can do to help LSU win ball games.
At the :08 mark, you'll see Stokes lined up on the outside of the left tackle. It's a fairly simple handoff from the pistol formation, and Stokes blocks down on the right defensive end and does a really nice job of clearing him out. The right guard pulls around and cleans up the outside linebacker which clears a nice lane off tackle for the running back.
At the 1:25 mark, we see a similar play. Again, Stokes is outside the left tackle, and he again clears out the right defensive end, making way for the fullback and tailback to come through for a nice gain.
The play at 1:45 shows off a bit of Stokes' versatility. Here, he's lined up in the backfield as a H-back and shows his blocking ability while on the move. He meets the blocker head on and turns him the right way, allowing the running back to run through the hole for a nice gain.
None of these things are sexy, and they seem fairly standard. But they're also the things that LSU asks their tight-end to do routinely.
To see him catch the ball, check the :14 and :43 mark. I doubt we'll see him do much of that at LSU, but it's nice to know he can slip out every once in a while for a surprise or constraint play to pick up a few yards.
As mentioned above, the departures of Clement and Jacobs left a hole at tight-end, especially one for the blocking variety. Sophomore Dillon Gordon is the only other guy on the roster that fits the bill as Travis Dickson and incoming freshman Desean Smith are both more receivers than blockers (though Smith could certainly be good at both, in time. He's special).
Gordon will be around for all of Stokes' time at LSU, so the two will always compete for playing time. According to LSU's roster, Stokes is a good 30 pounds lighter than Gordon (6'5" 286) and seems more likely to fit what Cam Cameron likes in his tight-ends, which is a lot of versatility. Regardless of who gets the nod, I think we'll see a lot of both guys over the next two seasons....just like we saw plenty of Clement and Jacobs in 2012, until Jacobs' suspension.
Low End: Can't fully turn the corner in learning the tight-end position and plays sparingly, except on special teams
Realistic: A part-time player who splits time with Dillon Gordon as LSU's "blocking" tight-end. Combined, those guys will split time with Desean Smith, Travis Dickson and Jacory Washington (in 2014) who are more of receivers. Cam Cameron traditionally loves throwing to the tight-end, so the receiving crew could see more time than we're accustomed to.