If you believe the title of the blog Team Speed Kills, then speed is a very important consideration in football. I'm not so sure that speed at the inaptly named "skill" positions is any more important than is strength at those positions and/or strength on the lines, but anyway, the speed guys get all the girls, so that's where we'll start.
As of this moment, there are 11 players committed to LSU who are listed as a defensive back, wide receiver, quarterback, tight end, or running back, thanks to the recent commitment of Tyrann Mathieu. Because that's close to half the total, we'll start there and consider linebackers to be part of The Big Guys.
Tharold Simon of Eunice is one of the most impressive prospects in this class to this point. He is a 6'4" speedster with the size and the hands to be a wide receiver, the speed and athleticism to be a cornerback, and with the bulldog mentality to be a safety. He's an outstanding prospect and a perfect example of one of those players who is right now being under-appreciated because of the general indifference towards Louisiana prospects and LSU recruiting this year, as discussed yesterday and in previous columns. Simon is a guy who had almost no media attention before his commitment, but whose highlight videos are so impressive that anyone who watches them cannot help but drop his jaw in wonder. Nevertheless, he is only a 3-star on Scout and is a low 4-star on Rivals. It is not known exactly where he will fit into the roster, but I would bet he ends up on the defensive side of the ball. A tall, rangy corner who relishes contact is the wave of the future, and I think Simon could be outstanding at that position. In my opinion, he is every bit as good of a prospect as Janzen Jackson was last year (and I'm not downing Jackson just because he picked another school. I just think this kid is THAT good), and Janzen was a 5-star at corner.
In a year when Louisiana prospects are generally being poo-poo'd, Ronnie Vinson of Newman High School in New Orleans is one of the guys getting some respect. Like Tharold Simon, Vinson is a do-it-all athlete for his high school team. He plays running back and defensive back, and also plays a little wide receiver. Some schools reportedly were trying to lure him away from LSU by promising him an opportunity to play running back in college. LSU reportedly has been recruiting him to be a defensive back. In the end, he decided to go with the big school and the opportunity to be a defensive back. Vinson is a very solid prospect who will probably need a little development time before he could break into the defensive back rotation, which is looking kind of deep unless he can be a cornerback.
If you want to talk about "interesting" prospects, how about quarterback Zach Lee of McKinney, Texas? He's a pretty big kid at 6'4". Not only is he a good quarterback prospect, but he is a Major League Baseball prospect as a pitcher, and he is a standout in high school track & field, listing an 8'9" broad jump. Like Chad Jones, he is just an outstanding all-around athlete and a good student as well. The problem with him? Well, it's that he really isn't 100% focused on football. He committed to LSU and plans to be a quarterback for the football team and a pitcher for the baseball team, and that's only if he doesn't sign with MLB. He says all the right things about wanting to go to college rather than straight to the pros, but who knows what will happen when the money is shown to him? Assuming he ever gets to LSU, I am not sure how you can advance very far on the depth chart at quarterback of all positions if you're only a part-time football player. If he makes it, though, LSU will have an outstandingly athletic group of quarterbacks in 2010 with Zach Lee, Sam Gibson (more on him tomorrow), Jordan Jefferson, Chris Garrett, and Russell Shepard on the roster. Oh, and Jarrett Lee (no relation).
While Luke Muncie of Klein Oak High School in Spring, Texas is listed as a safety, I would fully expect him to end up at linebacker before he actually sets foot on the field for a game at LSU. He's already a pretty big kid at 6'2" and 220#, and if patterns from past years are any indication, he will probably put on 10 or 20 pounds before he gets to campus and a total of about 30 before before the end of his true freshman year. Muncie is just a tackler. He goes after the ball carrier and gets him to the ground. In coverage.. he looks like a linebacker. Don't get me wrong; he's not bad. He's just not Craig Loston or Karnell Hatcher or Tharold Simon or Chad Jones. Or even Josh Johns. No, I think Muncie's future is probably more towards the middle of the defense than towards the back third of it. Muncie is a very quiet prospect. Not a whole lot is known about him. He reports a very nice set of offers, though, including Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ohio State, and Arkansas, among others.
Tight end Nic Jacobs of Many, Louisiana, is a big long-armed kid who might end up on the offensive line or at defensive end. He is listed at 6'5" and 245# and judging from his pictures, it is all muscle. He is reportedly also a standout on the basketball court. There are some questions about his pass-catching ability, which leads to the talk that he might bulk up and play offensive line, but the world needs blocking tight ends too. Of course, if he bulks up to 275#, he may not have a choice but to move inside.