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LSU Signing Day Preview: The WRs and TEs

Paul takes a look at the WRs and TEs for the 2014 recruiting class.

Chris Graythen

After producing the first duo of 1,000-yard receivers in the SEC since 2001, you'd think there'd be no better time to be lining up out wide at LSU. Especially since both of the aforementioned duo are departing early to pursue their NFL dreams. The depth chart is wide with bodies, but unknown on talent/production, so opportunities abound for early playing time. Yet, one of the state's top receivers elected to head to Texas A&M. Similarly, a JUCO product that originally hailed from LSU opted to move on to Auburn. And finally, the state's best overall receiver, though generally considered a heavy LSU lean, is taking all of his visits and greatly enjoying the recruiting process... giving some reason to pause.

So what's the deal, then? I can't honestly place an explanation on it. Perhaps the years of offensive ineptitude (at least in the passing game) are finally coming back to hurt LSU? That seems silly, considering we're under a new coordinator that just produced one of the best passing offenses in school history. Perhaps the out-of-state lure is just proving to be too much. There could be any number of explanations.

At any rate, LSU stands a chance to put together one of the strongest rated WR classes in the country if they close well.

The tight end conundrum looks a bit differently. Cam Cameron has a strong tradition of featuring them, but it's still not something we saw in the 2013 LSU offense. Was that a product of Mettenberger simply honing on his top two targets? I tend to think so, considering few others saw touches in the passing game. But it's an area where we haven't seen much production since the days of Richard Dickson, and even his numbers were mostly modest. But with Desean Smith last year and Jacory Washington committed, I suspect the TE will become a more featured aspect of the passing game in the near future.


Trey Quinn

247: #90 Nationally, #14 Wide Receiver
Rivals: #73 Nationally, #10 Wide Receiver
Scout: #184 Nationally, #33 Wide Receiver
ESPN: #29 Nationally, #3 Wide Receiver

Next to Leonard Fournette, Quinn is probably the most "known" player in this signing class. LSU fans love this guy, and for good reason. Quinn broke Dorial Green-Beckham's high school career yardage record and played in the U.S. Army All-American bowl. He committed in August and other than a few silly rumors, never really seriously considered anyone else. He's traveled from Lake Charles on multiple occasions to take in the campus and help recruit other prospects.

And I'd like to address this outright: I do my best to eschew any racial stereotypes when it comes to a prospect. It's somewhat alarming to me how Quinn is thought to be a small, inside, slow, slot guy... and I can only presume it's mostly because he's white. Because his tape shows he's a lot more. Firstly, Quinn stands around 6'1". He may not be the tallest of all receivers, but he's no little guy. He weighs 200 pounds. 247 lists him as running a 4.39. I think that may be a stretch (or, he may just not play that fast), but he doesn't lack speed in anyway. He can run away from the competition.

Bud Elliott wrote a nice eval on him here, though I'll disagree with the long speed comment. I do think Quinn can make big plays on the next level with his speed. To me, he's a combination of OBJ and Juice. He's got the hands and sticky toughness of Landry that will make him effective working underneath, but he can also hit you over the top in a way that Beckham could but Landry couldn't really.

Expect Quinn to compete for early playing time as soon as he steps on campus.

Jacory Washington

247: NR Nationally, #12 Tight End
Rivals: #151 Nationally, #4 Tight End
Scout: #206 Nationally, #6 Tight End
ESPN: #169 Nationally, #5 Tight End

Washington looks a lot like your modern-day tight end standing at 6'5", 220 pounds, with athletic upside. He's a long target that makes his hay as a receiver and less so as a blocker. Washington played in the Under Armour All-American game, and caught a 23-yard TD pass in the 1st quarter.

He looks and plays a bit like a jumbo wideout. Overall, I think DeSean Smith was the superior prospect, but Washington may bring a bit more speed to the position. Smith has a more complete skillset and could develop into a competent blocker. For Washington, I'm not sure that's the case.

Jacory is also a guy that's really been instrumental in recruiting other players in this class. He maintains a good relationship with Trey Quinn, and he's often tweeting uncommitted prospects like Trey Lealaimtafao. Last week he proclaimed on Twitter that LSU would be getting an OOS flip, but he wouldn't say who. He reportedly came into Baton Rouge last weekend to help recruit surprise visitor Sione Teuhema and his younger brother Maea. Could it be them? Could it be Lealaimtafao? Guess we will find out.

I think he can provide some juice to the passing game from the TE spot. He's a little light for a typical TE, but in an LSU offense that will need receiving targets, there should be an opportunity for him.

Tony Upchurch

247: NR Nationally, #57 Wide Receiver
Rivals: NR Nationally, #92 Wide Receiver
Scout: NR Nationally, #37 Wide Receiver
ESPN: #283 Nationally, #42 Wide Receiver

Upchurch is a bigger-bodied receiver prospect that's listed anywhere from 6'1"-6'3" and between 219 and 229 pounds. he's built more like a running back and did play some there at Dawson High School in Texas. There's not a ton of flash to his game, but he's a big, strong ox at WR. He shows some decent ball skills and he's a good hands catcher, but nothing else stands out as a runner or receiver.

I'll be honest in that I'm not certain what the coaches see with Upchurch. He looks like a fine prospect, certainly D1 worthy, but his offer list isn't particularly deep and he doesn't stand out on tape. As big as he is, perhaps the coaches are eyeing a move to fullback or h-back? He looks like he could easily support another 10-20 pounds, which would put him right in the 240-250 range, ample size for either spot.

D.J. Chark

247: NR Nationally, #69 Wide Receiver
Rivals: NR Nationally, #76 Wide Receiver
Scout: NR Nationally, #168 Wide Receiver
ESPN: #271 Nationally, #38 Wide Receiver

Chark is another unheralded prospect from just up the road in Alexandria. His commitment in June came as a small surprise, but he features offers from A&M and Oklahoma State. He lists at 6'1", 160 pounds, so he's on the smaller side. Right now, he's a pretty raw prospect. I think the appeal here is athletic upside. Chark is a run-fast, jump high type. He was officially timed at a 4.46 with a 37.5 inch vertical at an event before his Senior season.

On his senior tape, he shows that ability to go up and get the ball. He's also a special teams standout with potential to be a return man in college. His speed stands out. He's able to get to top speed quickly. His route running is pretty rough at this stage. He's shifty and elusive though. I think Chark can be a factor in the passing game and almost certainly as a returner, but it's going to take some time. I expect he'll redshirt his first year on campus and spend a year adding the necessary bulk to his frame and refining his skill.


Malachi Dupre

247: #30 Nationally, #3 Wide Receiver
Rivals: #15 Nationally, #2 Wide Receiver
Scout: #27 Nationally, #2 Wide Receiver
ESPN: #17 Nationally, #1 Wide Receiver

Dupre is an absolute must get for this class. At 6'3", 190 pounds he's the type of big, rangy playmaker the offense sorely needs. Sans Trey Quinn, the rest of the receiving class is solid but unspectacular. As much could be said about the current depth chart. There's a lot of bodies there, but few that really stand out as players that could be big time college stars. Dupre is a player that could bring that star quality to the lineup.

He's visited everywhere but Canada, it seems, in recent weeks, giving rave reviews all along the way. Florida State seems to be the biggest threat for his services. He was vocal on Twitter about it being his best visit ever. But again, he's pretty much 5-starred every visit along the way, so how much can we read into that? Further, he's been to LSU about eight times in the past two years, and maintains a close relationship with several of recruits. The LSU side feels extremely confident that he will wind up in purple and gold, and I think he will too.

Adoree' Jackson

247: #24 Nationally, #4 Cornerback
Rivals: #6 Nationally, #1 Athlete
Scout: #6 Nationally, #3 Cornerback
ESPN: #9 Nationally, #3 Cornerback

Adoree' is a guy that's mystified recruiting analysts all throughout the process. He's long been considered a heavy lean to USC, yet he never visited there officially. Even if you try to make the argument of not needing to because it's the "hometown" school, there's plenty of Louisiana kids, Baton Rouge kids, and they ALWAYS wind up taking officials, no matter how many times they've been around campus and the stadium and staff. Further, Adoree' is actually from East St. Louis, so the Cali connection may not be as strong as advertised.

Adoree's final four are Florida, USC, UCLA and LSU. Of the four, we're the only school he officially visited. He's made it known publicly that he has a strong interest in competing in Track in college, something that would make you believe LSU/UF would be favorites. He did, after declaring he wouldn't take two unofficial visits to USC and UCLA this weekend. Is that a sign that he's down to the two Cali schools? Or perhaps was it a trip for his folks to see the schools and feel comfortable with him electing to go elsewhere?

Adoree's also stated he'd like to try his hand at playing on both sides of the ball.

Frankly, you can spin his recruitment so many ways. My personal opinion is that most of the national guys don't have a good finger on the pulse of this situation. Here's what I do know: LSU is putting on the full court press. Les Miles visited him the 17th. Cam Cameron flew in last weekend and had a sit down, with other LSU coaches in tow, including the long jump coach, which is Adoree's preferred event. Mind you, LSU's long jumper just won a National Championship. Cameron gave Adoree' a hard sell on how he would be used in the LSU offense. From what I've heard, this battle may actually be more between LSU/UF with USC/UCLA on the outside looking in. Adoree would prefer to be back more toward home and to play in the SEC.

I can't get a read on the situation. If I'm being honest, all the parts of the equation add up to LSU. That's just my personal take. But you'll notice there isn't one LSU prediction on the Crystal Ball. They are rarely even mentioned by National Recruiting analysts. So for your own expectations, probably best to expect him to go elsewhere, even if I think the national guys are mostly just blindly speculating.

The bottom line is that this will be Adoree's decision. Not his parents or friends or anyone else's. If Adoree' does pick LSU, it'll be framed as a major shock and last-minute recruiting upset. I'm not entirely sure that would be the case, though.

Emanuel Porter

247: NR Nationally, #57 Wide Receiver
Rivals: NR Nationally, #83 Wide Receiver
Scout: NR Nationally, #54 Wide Receiver
ESPN: NR Nationally, #63 Wide Receiver

Porter visited two weekends ago, and at the time I thought we could maybe see an immediate switch. He went home without flipping and everything surrounding him has been pretty quiet since. I do know that Cam Cameron stopped in for a visit, so we haven't stopped recruiting him. But I do wonder what the situation is. Is he a guy the staff likes... but wants to pump the brakes on a bit? Is he only a take if Dupre goes elsewhere? Is he only a take if numbers work out, regardless of Dupre?

Perhaps he's just legitimately torn? He was committed to TCU before flipping to Texas and then back to TCU. As a Dallas kid, maybe the appeal of staying home is starting to win him over? I really don't know.

What to Watch for on Signing Day

Dupre, Adoree' and Porter are the three uncommitted guys to watch. Dupre announces early on and Adoree' in the early afternoon. I haven't seen news on if Porter is having a ceremony or not. I will have a NSD Primer post that lists all the announcement times I can find. At TE there are no additional targets considering LSU.

None of the other players are expected to do anything but sign with LSU.

The Future

I've detailed this a little before, but the receiver depth is... unsettled at best. LSU's top returning WR managed only seven catches last season. Behind him is Quantavius Leslie, who has nice size/speed but looks a long ways off as a WR. John Diarse is kind of the opposite, being shorter and not overly fast, but he's a guy that just makes plays. It's hard to look at the group and feel confident about major production. These aren't a bunch of top 100 talents waiting in the wings. Diarse is probably the most highly thought of recruit in the group (including over Dural), and he finished at 197 in the national composite.

So there's a lot of unknown, and a lot of opportunity here. Trey Quinn is a guy I expect to make an immediate impact. Malachi Dupre and Adoree' Jackson would be in that same group. But the rest of these guys? Who knows. This is the most uncertain the LSU WR core has looked in a long, long time.

The TE depth chart is actually pretty full at the moment, with Dillon Gordon and Logan Stokes likely to resume their duo of doom as LSU's best blockers. Travis Dickson is also still kicking around as a guy we can split out wide and do some different things with. I was a bit surprised Smith didn't see a bigger role as 2013 played out, but he's simply too talented to keep off the field for an offense that will need receiving talent in 2014. I do think Washington could contribute right away, but there's the possibility he could RS to add some more bulk, considering the depth.