There are plenty of words you could pull out when seeking to define the Golden Era of LSU football. Champions. Elite. Tough. Powerhouse. Dominant. NFLU.
But I like snot bubbles. Because snot bubbles are gross. They really only conjure up a couple of images. Babies who are unable to control their nasal productions. And men, who are also unable to control their nasal productions, except in this case because they've been hit so hard.
It's come to be a defining characteristic of LSU football. We may not be the biggest, fastest or even the best, but don't you ever question our toughness. It's a philosophy put into motion by Nick Saban and carried on brilliantly by Les Miles. It even oozes through our schemes. We bare knuckle box each opponent under the assumption that at the end of the day, we're gonna be the ones left standing. There's not a ton of flash or sizzle, and when there is, it's almost always a trick up the Hat's sleeve.
No, we line up, run you over, pick you up and then do it again for 48 minutes until the scoreboard is tilted decidedly in our favor. We do that because that's what we believe in. We do that because snot bubbles.
To declare the signing class of 2014 anything but a monstrous success would be disingenous. True, we lost out on one of the state's best receivers and likely the state's best defensive lineman. True, the best offensive tackle in the nation, who prepped right up at the road from LSU at a typical LSU recruiting stronghold, decided to head west and don the colors of our mortal enemies. Sure, there were others, both in-state and out, that decided their futures would be better served elsewhere than Baton Rouge. Collectively, we gnashed our teeth on 1.5.14 as Speedy Noil, Tony Brown and Gerald Willis III, once all considered heavy LSU leans, opted to commit elsewhere. Yet even mired in that frustration, it proved hard to ignore the amazing collection of talent that decided to ink their letters to LSU.
Signing Day came and went, with LSU landing pretty much every expected target on their radar. Yet, those early misses still stood out a bit. LSU would close out signing day without a full signing class, despite having the room to take them on. Yet, the coaches didn't rest on their laurels. It remained quiet, out of the spotlight, but they went to work, seeking to find talented prospects eligible to immediately sign. As an avid recruiting follower, this is the first time I can remember anyone, much less LSU, going back into the talent pool to sign 2014 class members.
Colin Jeter met the criteria the coaches were looking for. The lightly recruited junior-college tight end from Kilgore Community College popped onto our radars in June, soon committing, signing and quickly moving to Baton Rouge. He arrived at Kilgore via Air Force, where he committed to play out of high school. After a single season in Colorado Springs, he opted to transfer closer to home, reportedly due to a family illness. Even coming out of HS, Jeter didn't garner much recruiting attention. His list of offers consisted of Air Force, Northwestern LA, and Texas State. He recently stated he held offers from South Carolina, Central Arkansas and UTSA after his season at Kilgore.
How Jeter wound up at LSU seems like a bit of fortunate circumstance. Steve Ensminger, everyone's favorite "non-recruiter" happened to be making a routine visit to his hometown Longview, scouring the state for a tight end. Ensminger met with Jeter, invited out to camp, which netted him an offer, which he almost immediately accepted. Quite the whirlwind of events and anything but your traditional recruiting story.
As a high school prospect, Jeter was a composite 2 star with a .7544 rating according to 247Sports. As a JUCO prospect, he's entirely unranked.
110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has "can’t miss" talent.
100 - 98 = Five-star prospect. One of the top 30 players in the nation. This player has excellent pro-potential and should emerge as one of the best in the country before the end of his career.
97 - 90 = Four-star prospect. One of the top 300 players in the nation. This prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. He is an All-American candidate who displays pro-potential.
89 - 80 = Three-star prospect. One of the top 10% players in the nation. This player will develop into a reliable starter for his college team and is among the best players in his region of the country.
79 - below = Two-star prospect. This player makes up the bulk of Division I rosters. He may have little pro-potential, but is likely to become a role player for his respective school.
Tale of the Tape
Jeter lists at 6'6" dating back to his HS days, so I'm going to presume that's pretty near to accurate for his height. Coming out of high school, he weighed 210 pounds. The LSU rosters lists him as 240. I'm anxious to see the kid in pads, because he seems to have exceptional size. Adding 30 pounds, assuming it's good weight, in a year, is impressive.
Strengths: Soft Hands, Effort Blocker
Weaknesses: Lack of Speed, Lack of Bulk, Route Running
Soft Hands: Jeter doesn't catch the ball a ton, and he sometimes does allow it to get into his body, but I'm impressed with his soft hands when he does extend and pluck. 1:05 is the first example, though an easy catch. 1:40 he runs a terrible route, and it's a terribly thrown ball, but you see he has strong hands. 3:20 he makes a good catch through a bit of traffic and contact. 4:58 another good catch with a defender on him. 12:43/12:50 (same play different angles) he effortlessly and naturally is able to reach up and snatch the ball in the air. But the best catch on the reel is at 13:11 where he makes a nice hands catch, absorbs a big hit he knew was coming and hangs onto the ball.
Effort Blocker: Jeter's not a guy that just blows people off the ball, but the more I watched, the more I was impressed. He flashes a lot of winning blocks. He may not drive his opponents 40 yards downfield, but he gets them out of the way, which is really all that matters. Watch at :27/:41 where he doesn't get the most powerful block, but he engages the defender, latches on and stays with him until the play is over. This is a recurring theme. 3:29 is a good effort block. Technique isn't there, but his effort level gets the job done. 3:52 he gets his hands inside, latches on to his man and kicks him out. Again, not powerful, but effective. 4:37 he seals the edge with a good down block. 5:40 is one of his best blocks on the reel. Good technique to go along with his workmanlike effort. He gets beneath the defenders pads, latches on and drives. 8:07, is another block not tremendously powerful, but I'm curious about his hand strength. What he lacks in base power, he seems to make up for with a death grip, because opponents never seem to separate when he latches on. Here he locks on to a DE that looks quite a bit more powerful and drives him away. 9:36 is just effort, effort, effort. 10:34 shows some versatility blocking, as he's out in front of the RB and lays a nice cut block. Then again at 10:57, they use him as a lead man in the screen game. 12:29 he does tap into some power, sealing the edge.
Lack of Speed: There's not much to go on here, but he doesn't appear to be fleet of foot.
Lack of Bulk: I love the effort, but at 6'6", he'll need to add additional bulk to be able to continue to block SEC DL. That said, his frame should allow him to add a lot of great size, which could turn him into a dominant blocker.
Route Running: It's pretty rough. He can catch some, but he doesn't likely have a future as a guy catching tons of passes in this offense.
Jeter is an interesting prospect. He can catch the football, but he doesn't look like an overly dangerous receiving threat. That could make him a prime RZ target where he can utilize his natural size and soft hands to win battles for the football. He looks fluid catching the ball, but not as a route runner. I imagine he'll be confined to shorter routes in our offense.
The primary reason he's being brought on is for his blocking skills. At 6'6" 240 pounds he's nearly ready to play. That said, the current depth chart likely means he's in for a RS, which is probably an ideal scenario. Jeter can spend another year adding bulk and into the fray next season as one of our primary blocking tight ends. His blocking impresses me because he's not purely a drive blocker. Many times blocking tight ends look like underweight offensive guards, unable to move around all that much, but can generate a push in the run game. Jeter's got some athleticism to him that will allow him to be utilized possibly more like Travis Dickson, though with greater upside due to size. He's got good feet and does a good job finding his targets on the second level.
As a bold prediction, I want to throw out a guy formerly coached by our current OL coach, Jeff Grimes: Nate Solder. Solder showed up at Colorado a 6'7", 230 pound TE. He's now a 6'9", 310 pound starting LT in the NFL. I'd say the odds of that happening with Jeter are pretty slim, but who knows what Jeff Grimes can do.
High End: Potential convert to tackle (long shot).
Low End: Non factor/practice depth.
Realistic: 2nd blocking TE similar to Logan Stokes, but with more ability to catch.