Sorry for the less than timely posting, work took me out behind the shack and gave me the Bama treatment (too soon?). In a bit of shocking and depressing news, Gunner Kiel officially decommitted/switched/became a Domer on Tuesday after pledging to LSU around Christmas.
To many, the decision wasn't altogether shocking, as his family pulls were always strong. However, the news seemingly couldn't have broken at a worse time. And so it capped the seemingly endless black cloud which hovered over the program post [Game Redacted]. LSU's class remains QB-less for the moment. It's a tough pill to swallow, but I do believe it's best that Gunner made this decision now rather coming to LSU and leaving after a single semester or year. In the end, Gunner was always a long shot for LSU and having his commitment was an exciting moment.
Regardless, recruiting season chugs forward and Miles has been actively hitting the road trying to secure more signatures for the purple and gold. Who is left on the board and what are our chances? More after the jump.
What to do at QB?
With Gunner out, the lone QB target left is Jeremy Liggins from Oxford, MS. Liggins is a big, strong kid (listed at 6'3, 270). But, many question his ability to play QB at the next level. At this point, he's a better athlete than QB. He's a prolific runner who actually flashes exceptional wiggle and good long speed (yes, even at 270 pounds). He's a physical specimen, to say the least.
However, his throwing ability is limited at this point. Liggins carries the reputation of being a great leader/field general. He shows pretty good touch, but is only asked to make a limited number of throws at the HS level. It's tough to say what type of player he could be at the next level. To me, he looks more like Brandon Jacobs than a QB. But, seeing as how he's the lone remaining QB prospect on the board, there's a chance Les could put on a heavier press for his services.
The staff may try to go back and woo Anthony Alford (who committed to Southern Miss at the Army All-American game), but chances are his mind is made up (and he's likely to play pro baseball anyhow).
If not Liggins or Alford, I imagine the staff will be content to not have a QB in this class. There really aren't any other LSU quality players out there.
Who's Left on the Board?
For my money, Edwards is the no. 1 player in the 2012 class. I think Dorial Green-Beckham will end up being a disappointment. Edwards is a freak of nature who is already built like an NFL DE. At 6'4, 275, he's ready to play from day one. He has the potential to be a combo DL. In the Under Armour practices and games, he proved he has the burst, speed and agility to play on the outside and the strength to play on the interior, if necessary.
Edwards has been committed to Florida State (his father's alma mater) since March of 2011. Murmurings over the past few months are that Edwards may be re-thinking his decision in hopes of staying closer to home (he lives in Denton, TX). For a while, Texas was in hot pursuit, however, news dropped today that Edwards has officially eliminated them.
Les Miles spent some time in Denton last night visiting with Edwards and family. Edwards is set to visit this weekend, but Jimbo Fisher may be heading to Texas today to attempt to halt that visit. If Edwards gets to campus, there's no telling if it's merely the kid enjoying the good food and fun of a recruiting visit or if his interest is legitimate.
My impression: Edwards has some interest in LSU, but he is unlikely to switch his commitment UNLESS his preference for remaining closer to home is a lot stronger than people think.
Howard is arguably the top corner prospect in the country. He's been widely considered a Florida lean throughout the recruiting process. He created some buzz during the Army All-American game when he declared in an interview that he might be favoring LSU. Additionally, a YouTube video of him saying he was "feeling them Tigers" stirred greater interest.
However, in a recent interview, Howard said he hasn't talked to LSU much. Billy Gonzalez was his primary point of contact. He was originally scheduled to visit Baton Rouge this weekend, but since replaced it with a trip to Gainesville. He could possibly be coming for a visit on the 27th.
My impression: I'll be shocked if Howard picks LSU. His declarations about loving the school seemed more to be coming from someone trying to drum up interest in an otherwise uninteresting announcement.
Alexander is a player I was a huge fan of coming into the 2011 season. On tape he's explosive, disruptive and a dynamite hitter. As the season played out, his stock dropped. Some question his ability to cover, though his athleticism seems to suggest he can improve in that regard.
That being said, he torn his ACL in September, which may also be tied to his drop. Alexander has long been thought to favor an Alabama school, namely Auburn, but recent murmurings suggest he may have a strong interest in LSU. I think he's a dynamite player.
My impression: Not sure what to think on Kwon. LSU is already swimming in LB commits, so it doesn't seem to add up that he'd come here. Additionally, one of the remaining targets left for us is another LB.
Phillips is an in-state LB who was once committed to A&M, then Florida. But he's all LSU.
My impression: Phillips will commit.
Jeremy was a member of the 2011 class who ran into legal issues and spent the 2011 season sitting out to deal with that process. Not too long ago Hill's charges were reduced to a misdemeanor. He's currently enrolled and will be a member of the 2012 class.
My impression: I imagine this won't be a popular decision with some people. Hill is one helluva RB. Many liked him over Kenny Hilliard. However, Hill's legal process is now sorted, and I'm of the opinion that he should be given a second chance (with a very strict set of guidelines). LSU's RB core is currently deeper than it's ever been, so there's no telling what type of playing time Hill has in store, but I do believe he will step on campus hungry to get back to playing ball.
Patterson is a late-emerging name for LSU, but the JUCO WR draws rave reviews. He's a big-bodied WR (6'4, 205) with elite speed. When I turn on the tape, I'm blown away by his suddenness and ability to burn it deep. The kid can really, really run. Unfortunately, he runs a pretty limited route tree from the tape I've seen, so it's tough to make an evaluation on his other abilities. Scout lists his strengths as his speed and his hands, but notes that his route running is an area for improvement.
His primary suitors are Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss and LSU. Many people thought Patterson may have only been a target if Shepard and Boone left. With the news of them returning, many figured he may drop off the list. However, Patterson is scheduled to visit next weekend.
My impression: I believe Patterson will pick us. That is based on zero inside knowledge or information. Patterson to LSU simply makes sense to me. LSU is in need of a big, physical WR for next year. Patterson fits that bill perfectly.
At the end of the day, unless LSU pulls some major surprises like Edwards, Howard, and Kwon, this will go down as a pretty good, not great, class. I think players like Danielle Hunter and Vadal Alexander remain slightly underrated, but the concerning aspect may be the lack of true difference makers (those two best fit the bill IMO). That being said, the staff has shown a penchant for talent evaluation in recent years and lesser recruited players like Mo Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu, and Bennie Logan have emerged as very good players.