Last week, we covered incoming FB/RB David Ducre and Les Miles' love of the vintage power rushing attack. So long as Miles heads up the program, it's not likely the LSU offense will venture too far away from his beloved 22 personnel. One position LSU has paid particular interest to on the recruiting trail in the Miles era is the jumbo TE. Just take a look at this list of names:
Dillon Gordon, Colin Jeter, Logan Stokes, Nic Jacobs, Mitch Joseph, Kyle Anderson
All six of these players were 240 plus pounds and didn't flash the pass catching potential to work as a two-way tight end. Of the grouping, only Anderson never played meaningful snaps for LSU. Jacobs was eventually dismissed, though played a major role in his career. These players combined for fewer than 20 catches. Total. In 9 seasons. Their roles were clearly defined and it wasn't to catch passes and score touchdowns.
It's an interesting deployment of resources, when LSU routinely attracts top 100 talents. Miles prioritizes finding a blocking TE every other class to keep the coiffures full. Hanner Shipley looks to continue that tradition.
Shipley's commitment came as a bit of a surprise. In the fall of 2013, he took unofficial visits to Oklahoma, A&M, LSU and Baylor. He received an LSU offer in early 2014, committing just two days later on January 8th, 2014. Shipley would later visit A&M and Baylor again, but never wavered in his commitment. His recruiting profile shows offers from Texas and UCLA, though there was never much reported interest.
Shipley is a cousin to the Shipley brothers of UT fame. There wasn't much drama to follow here. He enrolled in January, which should give him a head start on getting into game condition and possibly even contributing in 2015. He is ranked as a 3-star with .8367 rating in the 247 Composite. He was selected to play in the Offense Defense All American Bowl.
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
I can't find any other athletic measurables, but you can easily tell Shipley is basically tackle-sized. Friend of the site Cody Bellaire wrote that he looked gigantic even in Spring Practice up next to guys who have been on campus for a while now.
Strengths: Run Blocking
Weaknesses: Everything Else
Okay, I'm kind of kidding... sort of, but there's just not a hell of a lot to go on with his tape. The first minute or so it him awkwardly running pass routes, which perfectly illustrate his limitations there. He's not a guy that's going to be running down the seam or really doing anything more than maybe posting up in the end zone for a two-yard pass to beat Ole Miss.
But from about a minute on the real fun begins. Shipley run blocks with an attitude. His preferred destination for the defense is in the dirt. He's a pile moving, drive blocking, son of a gun. So much so, you could swear he's an offensive tackle, not a tight end. He's really not refined or technical. He's just big and burly and nasty.
In fact, he's so raw, he'll likely need to learn how to actually block. And I'm just talking about run blocking. There is no tape of him ever having to pass block, which is absolutely something he'll have to do at LSU, whether in max protect or if he winds up on the offensive line. But you have to love seeing the natural tenacity, aggression and power to his game.
I've referenced this before, but the more I think on this, the more I can't make myself believe Shipley sticks at tight end. Sure, he could fit the jumbo TE bill. But is that the best way to deploy his talents?
Shipley has a legitimate offensive tackle frame and the looks of a tenacious blocker. In my opinion his best bet to take a redshirt this season, add the necessary bulk and get himself into that 300 pound range and move over to the offensive line. It's a recipe Grimes has used before. Where Shipley winds up will dictate his future. If he's to stick at tight end, he will have a career trajectory similar to guys like Mitch Joseph and Logan Stokes, who played hundreds of snaps but without much repute. If he shifts to line he has some potential to be a larger impact player.
The biggest factor here is that he's still so raw. He's just a big bodied kid with a lot of natural aggression. Will he put in the work? Will he focus and improve? Will he get bigger, stronger and badder? Shipley's future is in his hands.
High End: Multi-year starter on the offensive line.
Low End: Member of the tight end rotation and blocking specialist.
Realistic: I see Shipley making the shift to tackle and taking a crack there. But it's really hard for me to project based on very little film. There's potential here, but he's so raw. He doesn't strike me as exceptionally athletic, but I could be off based there. Ultimately, I think he's assimilated into the off. line depth but never a significant contributor.