As some of y'all may or may not know, my start in this whole sports-writing game was with Tiger Rag Magazine, circa 2002. And in the two-and-a-half years I worked there, I was lucky enough to work with, learn from and even briefly fill in for, one of the most thorough, enthusiastic, professional and connected recruiting reporters/analysts in the business, Sonny Shipp. In the past few years, Tiger Rag has moved off of the Scout.com network (I can actually remember when it was theinsiders.com), but Sonny has remained as one of the network's chief analysts and scouts for the Louisiana/East Texas region and one of the moderators of the LSU affiliate, Tiger Sports Digest with Shea Dixon and Randy Rosetta. And, he was nice enough to answer a couple of questions for us on LSU's recruiting class of 2012.
1. We're at just about a week to National Signing Day, LSU has a handful of scholarship spots left. What players are the coaches targeting and which ones are realistic possibilities?
At the top of the list you have Mario Edwards and the big question here is will he follow in his father's footsteps or will he carve out his own path. Shea Dixon had some good insight from Mario Sr. following the official visit this past weekend and it looks like it's going to be a NSD announcement that Tiger fans will have to wait on.
The other big need is Cordarrelle Patterson because of Rueben Randle's decision to go pro then you have Jeremy Liggins due to the Gunner Kiel fiasco.
Kwon Alexander would be another big fish to add to the haul as well as Corey Thompson and what a finish that would be if LSU landed those five guys. Odds are they will not but it looks like it will go down to the wire.
2. How do you see the rest of this class filling out?
I think they will finish up with Patterson and possibly Alexander from the list above then turn to some in-state guys with possibly Jacoby Briscoe as a DL and Alonzo Moore as a DB. Those are some guys I expect to get late looks this week.
3. We all saw the hilarious awkwardness that was the Landon Collins Under Armour All-Star Game commitment. Between he, his girlfriend and the rest of his family, is this one of the stranger recruitments you've ever covered?
I've never seen anything like this the way it all played out. There was a lot of misdirection on this saga as some of the close members of the family did not even know what Landon was going to do. In the end, a kid has to do what he feels is best for him and he has to do what he wants to do and not what others want him to do.
4. What happened with Gunner Kiel?
The whole thing about the way this was handled was very poor in my opinion in the fact that the staff could not get any sort of a response at the 11th hour. I understand a kid not wanting to move across the country for school but you do the right thing and pick up the phone and inform that coaching staff so they can move on and have a chance with another kid. It was very disappointing to see the way that this went down, not necessarily from the perspective of the kid, but more so from the parents.
5. How would you rank it in terms of the talent coming in and the needs it addresses for the team?
If they don't get a QB then there will be a void there but you have to love the LB haul in this class. Let's see what happens in the next 10 days then we will have a better idea of whether or not they met their needs.
6. What is the significance of junior college wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson?
He would come in and have a chance to play right away, similar to Demetrius Byrd. He is a big, physical receiver that would be a nice complement to the smaller receivers that should make an impact next year in Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham and Russell Shepard.
7. Are there any sleepers in this group that you feel are maybe underrated?
I think Travin Dural is underrated along with Dillon Gordon. Gordon is someone who physically has a chance to play very early on and be that run blocker Les Miles likes to have at tight end. Lamar Louis is another one who has a chance to be really good with his athleticism once he settles in at one position.
8. For the hardest of the hardcore, who are some of LSU's top targets for next year's recruiting class?
The 2013 class doesn't have that no-brainer five-star prospect, but I think from top to bottom is a little stronger than the 2012 class. You will probably see about 15 four-star kids and possibly as many as 40-45 three-star prospects, if not more.
There are a lot of kids in the '13 class that have a chance to be good college players and a few names to keep an eye on are receivers John Diarse, Ricky Jefferson, Tre'Davious White, Raheem Falkins and Ronald Lewis, tight ends DeSean Smith and Standish Dobard, defensive end/linebacker Kendell Beckwith, defensive end Tim Williams, cornerback Noel Ellis and offensive lineman Kenneth Santa Marina. There's a bunch more but those are just a few off the top of my head.