LSU is currently sporting one of the very best recruiting classes in the nation. They rank no. 1 nationally in the team composite, which is especially impressive considering their class is only 2/3 of the way full. Whether or not they hold on to the top spot will demand on how the staff is able to close the class. It's highly likely they finish in the top three, at worst, which is a spectacularly impressive effort in any season, much less one where the coach's future was thrown into very public doubt.
Recruiting rankings don't accurately assess team needs. The metrics are designed purely to estimate who accumulated the single best collection of talent in a given cycle. It's a nice raw total, but when teams miss on talent at key positions (typically QB, OT and DE) they may not perform to the level their recruiting rankings indicate. Until a couple weeks ago, LSU looked to be in tremendous position, both in total collection of talent as well as hitting key needs. Then, Feleipe Franks opted to re-open his commitment, before ultimately flipping to conference rival, and unfortunately, LSU permanent opponent, Florida. Though Cam Cameron continued to attempt to recruit Franks, that ship sailed yesterday when Franks became a mid-year enrollee for the Gators. LSU will now put down the gas pedal to try and make up ground with a few remaining targets. Let's see what each brings to the table.
Weight: 198 pounds
Physically, Haskins is comported a lot like current LSU QB Brandon Harris. He's got a nice, athletic build with the need to add some muscle. He's currently a Maryland commit, but a coaching change has brought some doubt in, though they've opted to retain Mike Locksley, in hopes of hanging on to Haskins. Ohio State is also heavily in pursuit and similarly lost a QB recruit recently. Let's take a look at the highlights:
Haskins' primary strength is that he's got a nice, live arm. He has a smooth, overhand throwing motion. You can see the zip he gets on passes when he throws down the seam and down the sidelines, typically without lollipopping it. Like Harris, Haskins plays almost exclusively from the gun in a one-back, spread type of offense. There's some athleticism to his game, but he's not a "run first" guy (again, just like Harris). Unlike Harris, he looks a little more naturally comfortable operating from the pocket. Sure, he takes most his snaps out of the gun, but he's not looking to break when his first read doesn't materialize. Haskins will hang tough and look to find 2nd and 3rd targets. Physically, all the tools are there to make a very good quarterback.
Jamie Uyeyama has a nice evaluation here too. He worked off Junior tape, and I see improvement in many of the topics he touched on with Haskins. I feel comfortable stating that Haskins is the top realistic target remaining on LSU's board.
HS quarterback in a shooting guard's body. Oden is a lanky, athletic prospect currently committed to Louisville. Louisville also has a commitment from a similarly statured, but more highly ranked, Jawon Pass, whom LSU also offered. Pass is much further along as a prospect, but Oden has athletic tools that are off the charts. Check him doing a 360 dunk like its nothing. But we're not here for fun basketball dunks. Can the kid play QB?
Oden can certainly scoot. Like Haskins, he's a spread QB, playing almost exclusively out of a shotgun, though he's not explicitly a runner. His passing has much further to come along, though he does flash a live arm on some throws. He's got a bit of a wind-up throwing motion. At times, he looks like he needs the full force of his body to get the ball down field. I can see the appeal here. He's a big-bodied athletic kid. He has a lot of tools that need to be tapped into. He's raw and athletic. But I have very little faith in our coaches to maximize his talents. The fact that Louisville is after him shows you there is faith in his throwing ability. Oden will need a good two to three years of transformation, both physically and technically before he's ready to play as a QB. He's an intriguing prospect, but i'm not sure he's really a good fit for what LSU does. I'd love to see him in an offense run by Rich Rodriguez that would build the passing game off his dynamic running ability. That said, I can totally see him being a take with Louisville having a young QB already in place and another more highly touted prospect already committed to this class.
Like Oden, Scott is a new name to the mix, though LSU's interest currently seems tenuous. Scott was recently named the Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year. He's a dual threat player who accounted for 2,600+ passing yards and 1,600+ rushing yards this season, while leading Zachary to a State Championship. Scott is currently a Syracuse commit and has received very little attention from LSU to date. This can partially be explained by his slight stature. At 5'11" he's not built like a typical P5 QB. Yet, more and more shorter QBs are taking the NFL by storm. Can Scott overcome what he lacks physically?
Like Haskins and Oden, Scott runs a shotgun heavy spread offense. Unlike Haskins and Oden, Scott is truly more of a spread-option QB, even in HS. He's prominently featured in the run game and looks very similar to former LSU RB Terrance Magee, who also played QB in HS. A lot of Zachary's offense is a downhill running scheme with spread out passing attack. Credit where it's due, Scott does a great job making the whole machine run. He's probably more advanced, in that aspect, than any QB LSU is recruiting. I'm talking here, as a pure mechanic of the offense. That said, he's lacking pretty heavily in physical traits. He can't make up for his slight frame with a dynamic throwing arm. He's a solid runner, though not a dynamic one.
Scott is gonna get a ton of love in certain circles purely because he's from Louisiana. Let's put it this way, if the kid played ball, even in Texas, I don't think many would give him a second thought. To me Scott is maybe and FBS player, and definitely not a P5 QB. A school like Syracuse can afford to take that risk, but he's not going to solve any problem LSU has. If LSU comes through with an offer, it's purely to have another body.
Barring LSU jumping in on another guy that's not gotten any talk yet, these are really the prospects to keep an eye on going forward.
What's the Move?
LSU's current instability at the offensive coordinator position makes this situation even more frustrating. Not only have they lost their top 100 QB commit to a rival, they are now in position to wind up signing no quarterback at all. Signing no QB puts LSU in the exact same position they found themselves in when they had to start Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson and then again with Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris. Worse yet, the Lee/Jefferson situation can be blamed on Perrilloux forcing the staff in a precarious position while Jennings and Harris are nothing but pure QB recruiting and planning. Here's a quick look at the depth chart for the next two seasons, if (big if) no players leave for any reason:
SR: Anthony Jennings
JR: Brandon Harris, Danny Etling
FR: Justin McMillan
SR: Brandon Harris, Danny Etling
SO: Justin McMillan
FR: (depends on recruiting)
This also assumes Etling doesn't lose a year of eligibility and took a RS this year while he could not practice due to transfer rules. What you can see is that the depth chart is exceptionally sparse. If Harris explodes next year (would be a great thing) and bolts, then you have to bet on a guy who left Purdue or a guy we considered a project to be your starter. If Harris sticks around, then Etling is little more than protective depth and we await the next generation. The next generation is either a developmental guy in McMillan (who could be ready, willing and able by 2017) OR a true freshman, which would put LSU right back at square one.
This is why it's so important for LSU to land a QB in this cycle and why it's supremely frustrating to see them twiddling their thumbs with the OC position. If Cameron is to stay, and I don't think this is the worst decision, then come out and announce his extension and forge the path ahead. Instead rival coaches can easily lob up to any player that LSU's coaching situation isn't only in doubt after next year but heading into next year with the OC up in the air. If the plan is to move on from Cameron, what good does it serve to have a walking dead OC doing your recruiting? I simply don't get it and feel Miles is making a grave risk in an already tenuous situation. His future, now more than ever, is on the line and his choice is to be inactive.
And look, I understand he doesn't like the optics of public firings, much less of one of his good friends. But he's also not stupid. Why wait? What card is he waiting to play? I just don't get it. If he waits until post signing day and announces a retread hire, it's hardly going to excite a fanbase that's already reached a lukewarm level of support, justified or not. I hope Les has a plan here, but with the way QB recruiting and development has been handled his entire tenure, it's hard to muster faith in that hope anymore.