Finding offensive line depth proved one of the top priorities of the 2015 signing class. In fact, without adding any additional bodies, LSU would have returned only ten offensive lineman in 2015 (this before the departure of Jonah Austin), one of which is a Senior and another five of those being draft eligible. That's a depleted depth chart in OL terms. Jeff Grimes needed to pull through with a monster class, and that's exactly what he did. Grimes went to work locally and nationally. While he missed out on the state's top OL (Jerry Tillery, who went to ND to play DT), he plucked prospects from Louisiana, Texas (2x), Ohio and Georgia.
When Les opted to replace Greg Studrawa with Grimes, the most obvious reason seemed to be an improved recruiting profile. Grimes came with high expectations, which immediately disappointed some with the light OL pull in 2014. Yet, in 2015, Grimes made good on his reputation in 2015. Pulling Toby Weathersby may be his most impressive recruiting haul yet.
Weathersby ranked behind on Maea Teuhema as the two best OL in the state of Texas for 2015. Fittingly, both were also, at one point in time, were Texas commitments. Maea until National Signing Day 2014. Weathersby committed to the Longhorns shortly thereafter, in March of 2014. He remained committed throughout his Senior season though rumors bubbled that he may be reconsidering his decision. Still, he took his time, only taking one visit, an unofficial one, to Texas A&M in November. Even after his visit, he remained committed for another month, before finally pulling the trigger and backing out of his commitment to Texas. Not only did he decommit, he outright eliminated the Horns.
Weathersby lined up official visits to Arkansas, LSU Houston, and Ole Miss, in that order. Following his visit to Fayetteville, many suspected the Hogs may be the leaders for his services. Weathersby kept things close to the vest as he took his final three visits. All remained quiet until a few days before signing day when a story leaked that Weathersby would likely be choosing LSU. The rumor proved true, as Weathersby picked LSU early signing day morning and signed his papers.
An Under Armour All-American, Weathersby was a fringe top 100 prospect throughout his prep career. He finished ranked 104th in the 247 National Composite rankings, and ranked as the no. 6 overall OT. He ranked as a composite 4 star with a .9497 rating on the 247 Composite.
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
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.97
Power Ball: 42.0"
The numbers don't stand out, except for the impressive power ball toss. That number would have ranked him top 5 amongst all OL invited to last year's Opening. The speed numbers aren't much to be concerned about for a kid playing around 300 pounds, nor is the vertical. Not to mention, they aren't overly important numbers for offensive linemen in general. I used Weathersby height and weight from the LSU website, but I wouldn't be surprised if they are fibbed up a little. He does look thickly put together without a ton of bad weight, though I'm not certain he's a full 6'5".
Strengths: Power, Punch, Move Skills
Weaknesses: Leverage, Pass Blocking
Power: You see it right off the bat on the first highlight, starting at :10, where Weathersby just absolutely way lays a DE who shot the gap. 1:42 is another strong example, this time of him driving blocking a player right out of the play. Now again 2:42, power and punch, engaging the defender and simply driving him with ease.
Punch: Look at :42 and how strong of a punch Weathersby brings, despite not getting the best jump off the ball, and not really being underneath the pads of the defender. OL is leverage game and despite poor leverage he still won due to his powerful punch, which is also illustrated in that impressive power ball toss.
Move Skills: Another reason I don't worry too much about his 40 is how well he moves on tape. The guy can really get out and pull and trap. Look at 1:15. He gets out of his stance smoothly and easily and is able to get laterally down the line to gain position on the outside shoulder of the end and ride him out of the play. 2:20 is a fine example of what he can do. Combo blocks take a bit of athleticism and he nicely gets the double team on the end before peeling back and picking up the attacking LB.
Leverage: Weathersby could still win in HS due to his pure brute strength but he does tend to play a bit high. Look at 2:32, he's standing almost straight up but still wins the battle. In college that probably results in him being chucked into the RB. 3:03 again, he stands almost straight up, but still wins.
Pass Blocking: There's zero film of him having to pass block, so that will be a skill set he'll absolutely need to learn and refine at the collegiate level.
It's no surprise to me that Weathersby is getting run at OG from early practice reports. He looks tailor made for the position. I question his height (he's listed anywhere from 6'3.5" to 6'5", which also makes him a more natural fit on the interior where length isn't as highly required.
During Under Armour practice, 247 noted he was "stout on the interior of the offensive line while playing guard and center." They also noted he looked like a guy who could play a "number of spots in college." This is all very encouraging.
As an interior player, Weathersby's lack of experience as a pass blocker can be further shielded. That said, he's not likely in line to get serious playing time in 2015, so he should have time to refine his skills as a pass blocker. He does move his feet well, which should bode well for future technique. Further, Weathersby is a natural, powerful drive blocker. This a thickly built, broad chested guy that should add good weight with relative ease. He shows fantastic ability to move defenders off the ball when he plays with good leverage. He's naturally strong in the upper body, which should make him a really dangerous player on the interior of the OL.
Weathersby might by an interior OL only type of player. He could probably play RT, but I'm not sure I ever see him profiling to LT. That said, he does seem to have the requisite athleticism. I need to get a better feel for his arm length and whether or not he can develop as a pass blocker. Rather, I look for him to be in contention for one of the starting guard spots or possibly a future center.
High End: Reminds me a bit of Trai Turner, a similarly athletic interior player who could maul people in the run game. Weathersby doesn't carry the natural bulk of Trai, but he's similarly strong and able to do damage. He could wind up being an All-SEC type player at OG.
Low End: Rotational depth at worst.
Realistic: I think Weathersby is heading for a starting role, perhaps as soon as 2016. LSU could lose Pocic and Boutte, if both decide to declare early, which would open up a spot for him right away. He's already got nice natural size and strength, so playing time shouldn't be far off. He'll see back-up and ST snaps in 2015.