We do not consider "reporting on latest rumors" to be one of the strengths of this website. It's not that we're not interested in rumors, or that we consider ourselves above that sort of thing. We just are not in a position to do it particularly well. Both Poseur and myself have day jobs, so late-breaking news and up-to-the-minute updates on the latest word leaking out of the program is sort of beyond our capabilities. The various high-traffic message boards are much better equipped to do that sort of thing. We are really better at letting the rumors mature and then sharing our thoughts on what they mean.
Aside: This is where you the reader can come into play. If you want to report a rumor and get to talking about it, you can use the FanPost function. It's another way for everyone to contribute to the content. You can write a story, and it will appear as a link on the right side of the screen. If it's an important story, an editor will come along and promote it to the main page.
Sometimes, though, a rumor is just a piece of news that has to be shared with those who may not have heard it, which brings us to Carneal Ainsworth. If you frequent any of the other message boards and websites, you may have read that freshman offensive lineman Carneal Ainsworth has left the team. No official word has been released on this matter, but Dandy Don (the original LSU blogger) has said:
I have also learned from a couple of reliable sources that redshirt freshman offensive lineman Carneal Ainsworth (6'4", 296) from Parkview Baptist has quit the team. According to my information, Ainsworth lost his grandfather a couple months ago and is struggling with the loss. It is my understanding that Ainsworth will be invited to walkon next Spring.
Other sources have also independently reported this, and while none of this amounts quite to a press release from the athletic department (and he's still listed on the roster), there's enough smoke here that I feel comfortable discussing this as if it is verified fact.
Trademark analysis can be found after the jump.
I feel for any kid who has suffered a significant loss, but I am skeptical that this is the full story. Some kids struggle with the transition to college life. Some football players struggle with the transition to a much higher-talent environment than they saw in high school. Add the loss of a loved-one to that, and it can be very difficult and overwhelming for a young man. I know I am descending to mere speculation at this point and I don't want to suggest any inside knowledge or special insight.
I certainly wish young Mr. Ainsworth the best, but my primary concern is the impact on the team. Here is what I said about Carneal Ainsworth in his Class of 2009 write-up:
I will call Ainsworth a project as well, but I think he is not nearly as raw as Josh Williford. He also does not have that enormous body. He's pretty big himself, at 6'4" and 300#, but looking at that picture I'm not sure he can add any more bulk, while Williford could probably play at 360# and not have a problem with it. Ainsworth just doesn't have nearly as far to go to be ready. He plays aggressively and uses his weight effectively. He is surprisingly quick for a man his size.
The big concern about Ainsworth is his ability to maintain his health. He suffered multiple knee injuries in high school, including a torn ACL. I'm not a doctor or an expert, but to me he just looks like he has the kind of body that is hell on the knees.
Of all of our offensive lineman prospects, he may be the one most likely to be a contributor if he avoids further injury. I just don't know what his upside is. Is this a kid who is going to be like a Lyle Hitt, whose steadiness has made him a 3-year starter? Or will he get stuck behind players whose upsides might be higher and end up as a backup?
I don't believe anyone was counting on Ainsworth to be an immediate contributor, and I think my description above is probably the best way to describe Ainsworth as a prospect: WYSIWYG, but you just don't know if he has the upside to end up as a key player, and health is always going to be questionable. Offensive line, and particularly offensive guard, is an area where the Tigers have stockpiled numbers. Some would even say we have stockpiled too high of a number. It is really amazing how many scholarship slots are occupied by young offensive linemen: Clay Spencer, Will Blackwell, Josh Williford, P. J. Lonergan, Stavion Lowe, Cordian Hagans, Alex Hurst, Thomas Parsons, Greg Shaw, Chris Faulk, Matt Branch, in addition to Ainsworth. Those are just the backups, and all but two are freshmen or redshirt freshmen, and another group is arriving in 2010.
Scholarship offensive linemen literally go all the way to the 4th team, which is really way too many scholarship slots to be occupied by offensive linemen. Clearly, we can absorb substantial attrition at this position without suffering from a lack of numbers. In fact, it is probably the coach's plan to recruit a lot of numbers at this position and then sort the out later.
If it is a case where Ainsworth saw that he was behind everyone else and was unlikely to be a contributor (I wouldn't know if that was the case, and I am not reporting it as such), this would not have a significant impact on the team. It certainly will not have a significant impact on the team this year, in which Ainsworth was surely not counted on to play at all.
Good luck to Mr. Ainsworth with whatever you do, and if you choose to return to the team, we will all welcome you back.