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Signing Day Preview: Defensive Backs

A look at what to expect on National Signing Day at defensive back

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

With the earlier than expected departures of Tyrann Mathieu, Tharold Simon and Eric Reid, defensive back was one place where LSU was looking for some early impact guys, especially at cornerback. The safety position has some numbers in the program with young players such as Ronald Martin, Corey Thompson, Jerqwinick Sandolph and Micah Eugene. Cornerback has some numbers too, but most of them are unproven. Jalen Collins and Jalen Mills are the only guys with any real experience while guys like Derrick Raymond, Dwayne Thomas and Kavahra Holmes have yet to see any significant minutes. LSU has three outstanding prospects committed, including one that fits the bill as an instant impact star.

Current Verbal Commits
Tre'Davious White - White is the best player in LSU's class. Nobody knew who White was when he first received an offer from LSU last February and committed shortly after. But as he attended more camps and combines, it quickly became apparent that White was one of the best cornerbacks in the country. By the time White went to the U.S. Army All American game in January, it was clear that he was one of the best overall players in the country. A tad undersized in the 5'10" 175 pound range, White makes up for it with great speed, athleticism, quickness and toughness. He's not afraid to get physical and challenge bigger receivers at the line of scrimmage. He's also got a great vertical leap which helps negate any perceived disadvantage due to his lack of height. He has everything you could possibly want in a cornerback prospect and seems destined to be a star at LSU. He's also poised to contribute on special teams. He's great with the ball in his hands and could compete for kickoff return duties right away. He should be a natural at kick coverage too, possibly as a gunner on the outside. I suspect we'll quickly see White on the field in nickel/dime packages, using his speed on blitzes and utilizing his coverage ability in the middle of the field.

Rivals: #4 CB, #18 overall 5 stars
247: #2 CB, #9 overall 5 stars
ESPN: #18 CB, #186 overall 4 stars
Scout: #6 CB, #58 overall 4 stars

Rashard Robinson - Robinson is a tall, rangy corner that will remind many of Tharold Simon. He has great height at 6'2" but is currently very lean at just 160 pounds. He'll never be able to completely bulk up but should be able to get to the 175-180 range during his career. Robinson has very long legs, which makes it tough on him at cornerback. It's hard for him to keep up with shifty receivers who make quick cuts. But he's able to compensate due to his outstanding speed and length. Much like Tharold Simon, he's someone better suited to remain outside the hash marks where he can use the sideline to help him defend against receivers. He'll probably never be a nickel or dime back but should flourish as an outside cornerback. Despite weighing just 160 pounds, Robinson plays very physical and very aggressive. He does a nice job of using his long arms to jam receivers and disrupt the timing of their routes. Even though Robinson could use some time in the weight room, I suspect he'll jump right into the mix for playing time at LSU and possibly see the field in nickel or dime situations, playing the outside while letting Jalen Mills, etc move inside. Miami has been pushing very hard for Robinson lately, but he is expected to sign with LSU on Signing Day. Robinson does have some academic concerns, and that will be something to watch over the summer.

Rivals: #26 CB 4 stars
247: #10 CB, #118 overall 4 stars
ESPN: #76 ATH 3 stars
Scout: #31 CB 3 stars

Rickey Jefferson - Jefferson is really a great overall athlete, and I'm higher on him than most. His sophomore film was some of the best in the state and his junior season was unfortunately lost due to a knee injury. That injury killed a lot of the fan fare and hype that would have otherwise surrounded Jefferson's recruitment. At 6'0" 180, he played almost exclusively on offense in high school both as a receiver and running back. He shows off a ridiculously good burst and really jumps out of his cuts and explodes past defenders. He'd be a natural as a return man on special teams. It remains to be seen whether he can translate his talent to the secondary. Skills don't always translate easily to other positions, but at the end of the day, I believe Jefferson is too good an athlete to not contribute somewhere for LSU. The word is that Jefferson will be given a shot at safety.

Rivals: #18 CB, #205 overall 4 stars
247: #36 WR 4 stars
ESPN: #28 WR, #204 overall 4 stars
Scout: #24 WR, #193 overall 4 stars

Jeremy Cutrer - As a commitment to LSU since last spring, Cutrer deserves a mention here. Due to academics, Cutrer is not going to sign with LSU on Wednesday so I won't get into all the specifics of him as a player. It's still not 100% clear whether he will go to Junior College or sit out in efforts to retake some classes and retake the ACT to try and qualify by the fall or even next January.

Rivals: #15 S, #177 overall 4 stars
247: #19 S, #195 overall 4 stars
ESPN: #18 S 4 stars
Scout: #19 S, #243 overall 4 stars

What To Expect On Signing Day
The biggest thing to watch for from the committed guys is that Rashard Robinson's paperwork comes in. Miami has been pushing very hard and Robinson has visited their campus at least a couple of times recently. It's fully expected that he'll sign with LSU, but definitely one to watch. It's not totally out of the question for LSU to receive a Signing Day surprise from someone else. LSU has not stopped recruiting Arizona safety Priest Willis despite his commitment to UCLA a few weeks ago. They have also not stopped recruiting Florida defensive backs Eddie Jackson, Artie Burns and Jamal Carter. Of the group, they may have the best chance with Jackson since he just visited a week ago.

The Future
I expect Tre'Davious White to play immediately, both in the secondary and on special teams. Rashard Robinson could be in that mix too. I'm not sure where Jefferson fits just yet. He has the talent to contribute right away but he'll be learning a new position so a redshirt is not totally out of the question. If he does see the field, I don't anticipate it being during crunch time. Jeryl Brazil could also play some cornerback and could be someone to watch. I think it's more likely that he plays offense, so I listed him with the wide receivers.