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Signing Day Preview: Tight-Ends

A look at what to expect on National Signing Day at the tight-end position

Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

LSU seemed to be in solid shape at the tight-end position heading into the 2012 season. Chase Clement returned as the starter and sophomore Nic Jacobs was making some noise. You also had sophomore Travis Dickson as a potential receiving threat and true freshman Dillon Gordon coming in. Fast forward a year and Clement has graduated and Nic Jacobs was dismissed from the program. LSU suddenly had a need for some bodies at tight-end and looked to sign at least two in the Class of 2013. As a receiver, LSU did not lean on the tight-end much at all in 2012. In fact, tight-ends caught just 14 balls, the lowest number in quite some time. But Les Miles has shown that when he has a legitimate threat at tight-end, he'll use him. After all, Richard Dickson is LSU's all-time leader in receptions for a tight-end.

Current Verbal Commits
Desean Smith - At 6'4" 225 pounds, Smith offers LSU the dynamic receiving threat at tight-end that they haven't had in quite some time. He is consistently ranked as one of the top tight-end prospects in the country and was clearly the top tight-end in attendance at the U.S. Army All American Game. LSU beat out Texas A&M and Alabama for Smith's services. Smith shows plus athleticism for such a big guy, and is routinely praised for having outstanding hands. In high school, Smith was essentially used as a big receiver and was mostly flexed out. He was rarely asked to block on the line, but does show off some strong blocking skills on the edge. After filling out his frame a bit more, I believe Smith will do just fine as a blocker and could give LSU a complete tight-end rather than always having a "blocking" and "receiving" option. Smith isn't great after the catch but shows off some toughness, always fighting for extra yards and preferring to take on defenders rather than go out of bounds. He's also got excellent top end speed for someone his size and could really be a weapon stretching the seam. Smith is good enough to compete for playing time as a true freshman.

Rivals: #2 TE, #68 overall 4 stars
247: #5 TE, #133 overall 4 stars
ESPN: #5 TE, #141 overall 4 stars
Scout: #9 TE, #241 overall 4 stars
Reminds Me Of: Jordan Reed (Florida Class of 2009)

Logan Stokes - Stokes joins LSU from the junior college ranks and was recruited out of high school as a linebacker. LSU really likes his potential as a tight-end, specifically as a blocker and due to LSU's lack of depth, Stokes will absolutely get an opportunity to show his stuff in 2013. Stokes is already enrolled at LSU and will participate in spring practice. At 6'4" 240, Stokes can move around a little bit better than guys like Clement and Mitch Joseph, but I doubt we'll see him catch many passes. He was used in a variety of ways in junior college, often lining up as an H-Back or even as a fullback. I wouldn't be shocked if he did some similar things at LSU.

Rivals: 3 stars
247: 3 stars
ESPN: 3 stars
Scout: 3 stars
Reminds Me Of: Tyler Edwards (LSU Class of 2008)

What To Watch For On Signing Day
Stokes is already enrolled and Smith is as solid as they come. I don't think we have to worry about them going anywhere. However, it's possible that another tight-end could join this class.

Rummel High's Cethan Carter blew up his senior season and garnered the attention of several big time schools, including LSU. The 6'4" 230 pound prospect is extremely versatile and played everywhere for Rummel. Flexed out in the slot, lined up inside, H-back, fullback, wide name it. His highlights are awfully impressive, and he put on a show in the Superdome in the 5A State Finals. LSU has offered Carter a grayshirt, but Carter received a full offer from Nebraska and is currently a commitment to Nebraska. Depending on how LSU feels about their last remaining spots in this class, it's conceivable they could offer Carter for the 2013 class, in which case they have a strong chance of flipping him. He's definitely one to watch.

The Future
Playing Time for 2013 is wide open right now with Dillon Gordon and Logan Stokes as your better blockers while Travis Dickson and Desean Smith are your primary receivers. A lot of eyes will be on Smith when he arrives in the fall to see if he can immediately contribute as a difference maker. It may take him some time to get acclimated but I think we'll see him making plays in the passing game at some point in 2013. It will be interesting to see who runs with the starters at spring practice.