Yesterday, we began our series preparing for a big upcoming weekend in recruiting. As a prelude to this weekend, we examine the recruits who are currently committed to LSU. Yesterday, we profiled "The Little Guys", skill position players and defensive backs. Today, we get to the big guys: linemen and linebackers. Of course, linebackers are not really any bigger than running backs, but bear with me. We need to break them up more or less evenly.
In alphabetical order:
The man with the well-kept hair is Carneal Ainsworth of Parkview Baptist High School in Baton Rouge (the same school as Darry Beckwith and Clay Spencer). He is 6'4" and 296#. Rivals rates him as a 3-star at offensive guard, which is almost certainly his destined position. He's a local kid, and he's a work in progress. His videos from his junior year show him to be a little slow at the snap, but the staff liked what they saw when they brought him in to a previous camp. They said he showed great improvement in his overall play from last year, and they offered him on the spot. As a private school kid, he anticipates likely being academically eligible. This is not a kid likely to make any national headlines, but Miles likes to recruit a lot of numbers at offensive line.
One of the splashiest early commitments for LSU was 4-star Defensive End/Offensive Tackle Michael Brockers of Houston, Texas. Originally a member of the Rivals100, he dropped to just outside of that honor, much to the chagrin of many LSU fans. While we don't know if Brockers is going to be a defensive end or an offensive tackle quite as yet, I think the smart money is on Brockers being a defensive end. I say that because of the rumors surrounding us seeking a number of other offensive line prospects and the paltry level of information of us going after other defensive ends. It stands to reason, then, that the room is at defensive end. At 6'6" 255#, Brockers certainly has the frame the grow into an offensive tackle if that's where he can most help the team, but he figures to be an athletic defensive end instead. His videos are very impressive and show him dominating Texas competition, which I generally consider to be consistently stronger than Louisiana competition.
From Bastrop High School in Bastrop, Louisiana comes Josh Downs, a DT/OL combo player who many believes will play on the offensive side of the ball in college. Downs is listed as a 3-star at defensive tackle, but most don't expect him to play that position. Instead, he projects as an athletic guard, or perhaps a center. At 6'1" 275# he is perhaps a little short for an offensive lineman, but he brings a defensive lineman's athleticism to the position. Converted defensive linemen often make excellent offensive linemen do to their high level of athleticism. Downs' teammate, Reuben Randle, is one of the top recruits in the country, and LSU certainly wants him as well, but Josh Downs is a good prospect in his own right. There is little chance of him looking elsewhere, as he is solid to LSU.
Chris Faulk is a 4-star offensive tackle from Northshore High School in Slidell, Louisiana. He is also a 4-star on Scout, which I mention as a prelude to my next sentence. Rivals, Scout, and the LSU coaches must see something that is not at all evident on his videos. On his videos, he looks slow, passive, and overall not that impressive. Perhaps it is the system he plays in, which calls for him to line up in a 2-point stance (without his hand on the ground) seemingly at all times, which is very unusual for an offensive lineman. He's got offensive tackle size at 6'6" and 280#. Rivals lists him as the #2 Most Athletic offensive tackle, which runs counter to what his videos show. Faulk is definitely solid to LSU, but watch out for his academics. He has a little ways to go to get qualified.
Middle linebacker Willie Ferrell of Florida A&M University High in Tallahassee is the first linebacker on the list. Ferrell is a 3-star who projects as an inside linebacker. He is currently at 6'1" and 220#, but figures to add some bulk before he gets to the field. He's a hard hitter and a good run stuffer, but if there's a weakness to his game, it is that he is not speedy. When he adds the 30 pounds or so he figures to add to his frame in the next two years, he figures to lose more speed. This may hold him back, but heck it didn't hold back Luke Sanders, so what do I know? Ferrell is a guy who is perhaps a fairly high risk to decommit and look elsewhere, but I'm basing that solely on the fact that he is a guy from farther away than a lot of the other kids in this class, and he has more than one in-state school who could try to lure him away.
Newest commitment Stavion Lowe is a 4-star offensive lineman out of Brownwood High School in Brownwood, Texas. I think he is the best looking pure offensive lineman we have gotten committed in this class so far (Brockers also looks great, but is probably a DE). At 6'6" and 296#, he certainly looks the part of an offensive lineman, and if that picture is any indication, he looks like he could stand to add more. Perhaps his weight is a "projected" weight? His videos are super, which is typical of Texas prospects. They generally have much more impressive videos than Louisiana recruits have. Their videos show them doing more and are generally better produced. Is this prejudicing me towards these prospects at the expense of Louisiana recruits? Maybe, but darn it I can only judge based on what I see, and I see this kid doing everything and doing it well. He is strong at the point of attack. He is solid in pass protection against defensive ends. He gets out in front of backs and receivers and clears a path through second-level defenders. His videos show athleticism beyond what we see in the Ainsworth and Faulk videos. He had a very impressive list of offers that included Auburn (not a bad judge of OL talent, mind), Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Miami, Bama, UCLA, and a dozen or so others.
Probably my favorite defensive commitment so far is 3-star linebacker Kevin Minter from Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia. I think Rivals has him criminally underrated. Scout lists him as a 4-star and the #5 rated middle linebacker in the country, which is more appropriate. To me, he looks just about as good as Ryan Baker does, and he was almost a 5-star according to Rivals. Minter has the size, at 6'0" and 220#. He also has athleticism, as seen in his video where he skies to knock a pass out of the air. He is aggressive. Blockers don't seem to discourage him at all. When he finds a target, he goes after it full speed, and no obstacle stays in his way long. It would not at all surprise me to see Minter's stock rise as the season goes on. I know that USC (the one in California) wanted him bad, and when USC is willing to recruit a guy all the way out in Georgia, he must be pretty darn good. It's best not to get too hung up in ratings. I know the coaches ignore them, but you want a kid to get his due.
This is Henry Orelus of Glades Central High School in Belle Glade, Florida. I have a policy of not taking fresh information off of pay sites and regurgitating it here, so I won't elaborate any on the following sentence. I do not expect Henry Orelus to be a part of this class when February 2009 rolls around.