"Why would any top flight wide receiver go to LSU?"
It's one of the oft-repeated questions surrounding each LSU signing class. From Terrance Toliver to Rueben Randle to Jarvis Landry to Malachi Dupre, it's the same line, time after time. It's not an entirely unfair criticism, considering the continued struggles at the quarterback position for LSU. Then you look at the numbers:
Odell Beckham Jr. (Pro Bowler), Jarvis Landry, Rueben Randle, Brandon LaFell, Dwayne Bowe, Russell Shepard, Trindon Holliday, James Wright.
Three of the players on this list scarcely made an impact at WR while at LSU. Five of them never even mustered a 1,000 yard season. All of them are currently active members of an NFL roster. Any arguments you could make about LSU "under utilizing" talent quickly dissolves under the "hey, they make the NFL anyway" counter. This is not to say that LSU doesn't under utilize their WR talent, only that the "look at all these guys on NFL rosters" is simply more compelling. What do you want, kid? An award and some recognition? Or a few million dollars in your pocket by the time you turn 30?
That said, considering all of LSU's struggles, could they continue to pull top WR talent in 2015?
6'1", 185 pounds
247: ****, #39 Nationally, #5 WR
Rivals: *****, #11 Nationally, #2 WR
ESPN: ****, #30 Nationally, #3 WR
Scout: ****, #50 Nationally, #4 WR
Well-rounded WR prospects are difficult to find out of HS. There's plenty of burners that need to refine their skills as a route runner or ability to catch. There's plenty of guys that can stick a route but struggle catching the ball naturally, or lack great physical traits. There's plenty of guys that can catch and run, but have never learned a route tree. Johnson's got a little bit of it all. He's got good, not great size. He's got good, not great speed. But man does he know the position. He uses his body to create space. He plucks the ball with his hands. He plays the ball in the air as well as anyone in the country. Johnson's an immediate contributor. He will play next year.
6'5", 205 pounds
247: ****, UR Nationally, #38 WR
Rivals: ***, UR Nationally, #66 WR
ESPN: ****, UR Nationally, #52 WR
Scout: ****, #180 Nationally, #22 WR
Ferguson is quite the opposite of Johnson in terms of his refinement. The 6'5", 200 pounder is athletically blessed, but in need of learning the finer parts of the position. At his best, he flashes some ability to break tackles in the open field and certainly the ability to be an incredible RZ threat. Ferguson is all about upside, upside, upside.
5'9", 170 pounds
247: ***, UR Nationally, #111 ATH
Rivals: **, UR Nationally, UR ATH
Scout: ***, UR Nationally, UR WR
ESPN: ***, UR Nationally, #101 RB
Where Fournette winds up is still a guessing game, but considering his slight stature, it seems more likely he's destined for the WR corps rather that as a RB. Fournette is small, but he runs with deceptive power. He can catch the ball out of the backfiled, but it's fair to ask how that ability translates out to the wide receiver position. Fournette is more of a developmental prospect.
247: ****, #122 Nationally, #13 WR
Rivals: ****, #78 Nationally, #9 WR
Scout: ****, #183 Nationally, #23 WR
ESPN: ****, #59th Nationally, #8 WR
Charlot committed to Alabama in February of last year, and remained committed until December, when he opened his process back up. At the time, Charlot commented that LSU opened his eyes to some things. This all took place after his official visit to Baton Rouge. Since that time, he's officially visited Alabama, and seems destined to wind up in Tuscaloosa. Charlot is an extremely polished WR prospect that could contribute immediately at Bama, but be staring up a depth chart at LSU.
5'11", 173 pounds
247: ****, #91 Nationally, #9 WR
Rivals: ***, UR Nationally, #40 WR
Scout: ****, #234 Nationally, #34 WR
ESPN: ****, #119 Nationally, #8 WR
Dillon is one of the most talented athletes in the state of Louisiana for 2015. He committed to Florida back in May of last year, but almost all projections have him flipping to LSU on National Signing Day. He's taken only one official visit this month, to Baton Rouge. He's been mostly quiet about his recruiting process. Could he stick with Florida? Possibly. LSU hasn't shown a great ability to utilize space athletes like himself. But then you get back to that whole, "Well, you get to the NFL anyway" mantra. I suspect Dillon will flip to LSU on Signing Day.
6'4.5", 200 pounds
247: ***, UR Nationally, #52 WR
Rivals: ***, UR Nationally, #45 WR
Scout: ***, UR Nationally, #60 WR
ESPN: ****, #101 Nationally, #12 WR
Martin is an exceptionally gifted talent that may be a grades risk. He committed to Missouri on his official visit there last weekend, but LSU continues to turn up the heat. He will visit LSU on the final visit weekend of the season. Would he flip to LSU? I think there's certainly a chance. LSU's depth chart is deeper, but Baton Rouge is closer to Dallas than Columbia, Missouri.
LSU's signing class will include Johnson, Ferguson and younger Fournette at the worst. At best, they'll somehow flip Charlot, Dillon and Martin. Middle ground says they get Dillon. If they want Martin, they'll put the press on during that final weekend. I think Charlot is destined for Alabama, but LSU is already loaded at WR, so they should be able to absorb his loss.
Even just adding Johnson to a core that already features Dural, Diarse, Dupre, and Quinn, is immensely impressive. The future is bright for the LSU passing game, if they can ever figure out that whole QB thing.