Y'all remember when Les Miles was hired? Y'all didn't know he had intentions of opening a Freak Construction Facility right there on campus, did you? Well, he did. Like most good businesses, it didn't explode over night. It took some tinkering.We hired a new plant manager (Chavis) or two (Kragthorpe). We instilled new schematics (muuuusssttttannnnggggggg). We tweaked the formula (smaller, lighter, faster machines). The end game is a surplus of fast, athletic, insane athletes at every position on the field.
So yeah, here's another one. If you look take a look at the tape of many LSU defensive recruits for the past two to three seasons, there's a commonality: they get places and they get there fast. They may not be the most disciplined, or have the best form or pass-rush moves. But I'll be damned if they don't get there a lot faster than anyone else on their team anyway. Chavis' rightly understands that you can't teach that sort of raw, unhinged speed, which is why he'll say "injury be damned" to a guy like Kwon Alexander, who lacks pass coverage ability, but possesses extreme speed and aggressiveness. So too with Danielle Hunter, a 6'5", 235 (according to the LSU roster) lean, pass rushing machine who, in HS, was all effort and no technique. Early on, Hunter has been one of the most talked about specimens in camp, and if you take just one look at this picture, you understand why:
That's not a true freshman! That's an oak tree!
After the jump, I reveal Miles' secret freak-making formula for the low, low price of $29.99!
I love Danielle Hunter. I loved him when he committed. I kept on loving him through signing day. And I now I love him even more that he showed up to camp looking like a seasoned veteran rather than a rail thin high-school kid needing to bulk up for SEC play. Hell, if you look at that picture, and didn't know what from who, I bet we could say, "Starting LSU defensive end" to a million CFB fans and they'd all nod and agree we have the freakiest of freak athletes. "Oh yeah folks, this is just one of our young pups," we'd say. Then they'd shit blood.
He looks like a man. Clearly he's not fully grown (wait, what?), but he's easily big enough for SEC play. He's long. He's already got thick, muscular arms. His ass and legs need to bulk up, but the size potential is there. You know what Danielle Hunter is? He's Von Miller as a 17-year-old. Wait, did you not know? He's 17. 1-7. Seven, Teen. He's Lohan in Mean Girls. He's Missy Franklin in the Olympics. He's totally Justin Bieber last year. So yeah, there's that.
The thing is, he doesn't hardly know how to play football yet. I mean that in a totally good way. Just see for yourself:
Danielle Hunter Highlights (via 247SportsStudio)
He's just a big, fast, strong kid running around letting his athletic ability do all the talking. He's frankly, terrifying. Imagine ^ with more high quality athletic training and premium coaching? Do you know what that equals? Millions of dollars.
That's all well and good, but what does that mean for 2012 LSU?
You know that Montgomery and Mingo will play the bulk of your snaps. Behind them are a pair of talented, but unproven sophomores, Justin Maclin and Jermauria Rasco. Maclin played mostly junk time his true freshman season and then took a RS last year. Rasco followed suit playing junk time last season, but looks poised to be a key back-up in 2012 rather than going the RS route of Maclin. Lavar Edwards is still a factor, as well, though he seems to lack the explosive pass rushing ability that Chavis prefers. Even still, he's a very good run defender and will get plenty of run to give Montgomery a blow. Beyond those five, you have Chancey Aghayere, who didn't play last season after being a contributor in years past. His team seems to have passed. Jordan Allen is a another sophomore, but one who has yet to distinguish himself. What he does in these practices leading up to the season may push Chavis in one direction or another.
If you remember, both Mingo and Montgomery, despite possessing enormous potential, took RS seasons their FR. years. In that sense, Hunter could follow suit. However, given the lack of proven depth, he may be in line for early PT. Then the question becomes, in what way? He's most gifted as a pass rusher, but you aren't to pull Mont or Mingo off the field in obvious pass situations, no matter how promising Hunter proves to be. Can he be a capable run defender? Will he keep from getting swallowed at the point of attack? If the answer to both questions is yes, then he will almost certainly play. If the answer to both is no, then a RS is likely in order. If the answer is yes/no or no/yes, then things get interesting.
Judging by early reports and pictures, I won't be surprised at all if he gets on the field. Chavis believes in playing his best, regardless of age. If Hunter proves to be one of his best, he will play.
High End: Hunter has 1st round athleticism and talent. If he's as dedicated and humble as Sam Montgomery, he's due for a huge paycheck in 3-4 years. He's got All-American potential.
Low End: At worst, he's a rotational pass rusher and 1 or 2 year starter.
Realistic End: Hunter is in line for a starting spot as early as next season. I suspect he will factor into the rotation at some point this season. He should be a two or three year starter and an All-SEC performer.