National Signing Day Preview: Offensive Line

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Paul takes a look at the OL for the 2014 recruiting class.

It's a new era on the LSU offensive line with the dismissal of long-time OL coach Greg Studrawa and the hiring of Jeff Grimes. Considering Grimes' recruiting track record, the hire is presumably recruiting-related, though arguments could be made for upgrading from a coaching perspective as well. Though Grimes won't have an opportunity to majorly impact the 2014 recruiting class, expect him to pay major dividends in future signing classes.

In recruiting, no position is harder to evaluate than offensive line. You want to talk about something recruiting sites consistently miss on, look no further than here. Typically with OL there's just so much more projection than any other spot, including QB. It's a spot we've recruited fairly well, though I wouldn't say to a dominant level like we have with our DL and DBs.

The offensive line is often a war of attrition, which is why I'm a huge proponent of loading up a big numbers of OL in each class. Having an excess of OL is never a bad thing. You won't likely see me criticize clearing a spot for an additional OL.

Commits

Garrett Brumfield

247: #52 Nationally, #3 Offensive Guard
Rivals: #159 Nationally, #9 Offensive Guard
ESPN: #54 Nationally, #1 Offensive Guard
Scout: #220 Nationally, #13 Offensive Guard

Big men don't move like this. Turner was a guy I was impressed with, but Brumfield even more so, though I see the two similarly. From my view, 6'4", 285 pounds is near perfect size for an interior OL still in HS. Turner was tipping the scales at 340 coming out of HS. Brumfield is sleeker, but looks every bit as nasty and strong.

Brumfiled played LT in HS, but he'll slide down to guard at LSU. I could see him playing RT, even. He's a mauler in the run game that even looks impressive in pass pro. He's very light on his feet and flashes the ability to pull and trap, hit combo blocks, and even set his base and protect his QBs back side. It's a range of skills that should serve him well at LSU. Pass pro as an interior lineman is a bit different game, and he'll need to add some additional mass to handle the bigger DTs he'll be facing at LSU.

Brumfiled was an Under Armour All-American and made an exceptional statement at the game, vaulting up 247's rankings. People have asked if I think Brumfield can immediately fill the vacancy left by Trai Turner's departure. No, I don't. Maybe if he had been an EE, but it's pretty rare that a freshman OL starts. I do, however, think he'll immediately factor into the 2-deep and be in line for a starting role as early as 2015. We should see him on the field at points this season.

Also, the kid gives a damn good interview. Look forward to his sound bytes in the future.

Will Clapp

247: #210 Nationally, #11 Offensive Guard
Rivals: #205 Nationally, #13 Offensive Guard
ESPN: NR Nationally, #22 Offensive Guard
Scout: #257 Nationally, #15 Offensive Guard

Clapp is a New Orleans product and similarly put together as Brumfield. I can't help but be impressed with how well he is put together for a HS OL. He wears 275 well. He's thick and muscularly built, not carrying a ton of slobby weight. He's got broad shoulders and thick arms. Like I mentioned with Brumfield, he's built very much how I prefer interior OL to look.

Clapp isn't quite as athletically impressive as Brumfield. That said, he's no slouch. He gets out of his stance well, plays with a pretty good pad level and his punch is impressive. He can get to the second level with his blocks, latch on and drive defenders into the ground. He's a mean, nasty SOB. He reminds me a bit of a little more athletic version of Will Blackwell.

There's an opportunity for him to play early, just as there is with Brumfield. While I don't see him earning a starting nod, he should have a chance to crack the two deep. If he doesn't a RS could be in order. He does need to add some overall bulk, but this is a guy that plays really strong at 275. I doubt we ever see him as a 330-pounder. He's gonna top at a good 310 and wear it well.

Targets

Derrick Kelly Jr.

247: NR Nationally, #25 Offensive Tackle
Rivals: NR Nationally, NR Offensive Tackle
ESPN: NR Nationally, #67Offensive Tackle
Scout: NR Nationally, #37 Offensive Tackle

Kelly is a late-bloomer prospect that originally committed to Kentucky before re-opening his process. He's around 6'4"-6'5" and roughly 300 pounds, with a lean build and impressively long arms. He's garnered late interest from Florida State, Florida and LSU.

Overall, I think he's a high upside prospect. He almost certainly needs a RS season, but he's athletic and long enough to profile to LT. He looks best as a run blocker, though, so RT may be his future. His visit to LSU supposedly went exceptionally well, with many believing LSU were the heavy favorites for his services with FSU not having room to take his commitment. Last weekend, he canceled his scheduled trip to FSU, so it would seem any chance for him in their class is done, though they may still find room.

The interesting thing is the late emergence of Florida from the crystal ball predictions. Could be much ado about nothing, but the last seven picks have all gone to UF, after a run of LSU picks. Florida seemed to be an outside contender, but he announced his finalists on Signing Day will be LSU, Florida and FSU. Sources on the LSU side remain confident he picks the Tigers, and considering the immense need, it's hard to see why he wouldn't.

What to Expect on Signing Day

Brumfield and Clapp are sewn up, so no worries there.

The attention will be to Derrick Kelly. If he elects to go to UF, it'd be a pretty big blow to this class, as he's emerged as the last big time tackle option. There's no other remaining OL targets on the board, and I'm not sure there's any real backburner options for LSU to swoop in on either.

The Future

Four of five OL starters return in 2014, two of which will be Seniors. 2013 recruits Josh Boutte and Ethan Pocic are both players that should become fixtures upon the OL in the coming years, if not 2014. Classmate K.J. Malone was more of an athletic project, but he does have SEC-starter athletic ability. Like Malone, Andy Dodd took a RS this season and should be another name in the mix in the coming seasons.

RT Jerald Hawkins is just a RS So. and while he looked great in spurts, he struggled at times too. He could be the starter there for the next three seasons. Next year will feature a new starting LT and starting OC. Depending on how Jeff Grimes wants to shuffle the players around will determine the overall depth chart.

I think both Brumfield and Clapp are all-conference guards inside. Athletic, tough, nasty guys that could really give LSU 2/3 of the best interior they've had under Miles, especially if that third part is Ethan Pocic.

Still the need for overall depth is a concern. Not landing Kelly leaves LSU with only a couple of underclassmen at OT. I'm anxious to see how Grimes will attack OL recruiting. He did a pretty good job of loading up the Auburn trenches, so let's hope he can do the same for us.

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