If there's been a single position where LSU has found the most success in the past 30 years, it's clearly RB. Sure, they've had a recent run at defensive back and some strong success at DL, but LSU's RBs stand out for tenure. Starting with Dalton Hilliard (okay, he barely bumps up against the 30 year window), then Kevin Faulk. Cecil Collins. On into guys from the early 2000s like Justin Vincent and Charles Scott and Jacob Hester. And now into the 2010s with Stevan Ridley, Jeremy Hill and now Leonard Fournette.
LSU's lineage at RB extends beyond just recent history as well. The school's lone Heisman winner played RB. A player like Charles Alexander is tremendously underappreciated, despite being the school's single season rushing leader. How about Johnny Robinson, Steve Van Buren, and Jerry Stovall? All in LSU's Hall of Fame.
Yet, despite all of that, I believe LSU's current RB may be the strongest in the school's rich history. Leonard Fournette is a once in a lifetime type talent that I think we all believe will have a monstrous 2015. The combination of he and the stable behind him are intensely talented. Darrel Williams, the top back-up, is a guy that could start for most SEC schools right now. Behind them are two incoming freshmen with immense talents and further starting potential in Derrius Guice, David Ducre and Nick Brossette. Some may be concerned with depth, considering the heavy leaning on young players, but the amount of talent alone should ease any worry.
Brossette grew up in the shadows of Tiger Stadium, prepping at University Lab (U-High for short), and going to class right on campus. The school is fertile recruiting grounds for LSU. In fact, I can't remember a single U-High kid, that LSU strongly coveted, heading to another school.
As a recruit, Brossette has long been coveted. As an eighth grader he rushed for over 1,000 yards. He followed that up by rushing for over 1,500 as a freshman, then 2,200 as a sophomore and another 2,100 as a junior. How about another 2,300 yards his senior season? As you can imagine, a whole bunch of TDs came with it. 22, 29, 44, 37, 31. Those are TD numbers, not long runs on the season numbers. Brossette is as accomplished as any HS player you will find. The numbers are simply remarkable.
As such, he drew recruiting attention from an early age. He held offers from LSU, Florida State, and Alabama in 2012, prior to his freshman season in High School. Other schools followed suit, including UCLA, Ole Miss, Auburn, Miami, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Notre Dame, offering him after his impressive freshmen year. Yet, Brossette kept his eyes on LSU, the first school to offer. In the summer of 2013, prior to his sophomore season, Brossette pledged to LSU.
Things carried along smoothly enough.. until just a few weeks before signing day. There were murmurings throughout the fall that Brossette may be deeply interested in heading to Texas, rather than LSU. No public explanation was ever given, though one can assume depth played a factor. Brossette traveled to Austin on January 16th. Reports flowed forth that the Longhorns may have nabbed his silent commitment, though he publicly remained mum. All picks for Brossette trended Texas. A weekend later, LSU and staff lured him to take one last look at his hometown school.
It proved enough to keep Brossette in the boot. Less than two weeks later he inked with LSU. Baton Rouge's native son stayed home after all.
Brossette ranked as a composite 4 star in the top 247, with a .9203 rating. He played in the Under Armour All-American Game and was invited to Nike's The Opening. Brossette earned positive remarks for his practice performance during the UA All-American bowl. He outperformed top 100 player and fringe 5-star FSU signee Jacques Patrick.
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: 4.43
Power Ball: 34.0"
Of all the backs tested at the Opening, Brossette registered the least impressive numbers. He is a bigger back at almost 220 pounds, so that lends some explanation. Still, he's not the most athletically gifted back from a pure physical tools perspective. He's got good size and enough athletic tools to be a fine back.
Strengths: Hands, Footwork, Runs Through Contact, Patience
Weaknesses: Explosiveness, Upright Runner
Hands: First clip on the reel, :05 in, you see right off the bat the Brossette is a versatile back. He will give you a dependable set of hands out of the backfield, which is also echoed in reports from UA All-American Bowl practices. Then at :16 you see it again.
Footwork: Cited above, :16, you can see how shifty and light he is on his feet. He cuts and moves very well. :55 is probably the slickest example of him bouncing and popping, hitting a hole and moving, making a guy miss and moving. Very good movement skills. 1:30 is another nice shot of him taking advantage of the cutback, which is the type of back I envision him becoming.
Runs Through Contact: Maybe his best skill, and undoubtedly the reason he was able to rack up over 8,000 yards in his prep career. You simply don't see Brossette go down on first contact. Watch the run at :55 and watch him barrel through a tackler. At 1:13, you see him run through contact and carry tacklers. 1:22 again, just powering through anything in his way.
Patience: Wanted to highlight this play to illustrate his patience and following blocks. 1:52 he waits for the play to unfold before breaking forward. 2:04 is another fine example of not trying to take more than what's there. He's very good at waiting for it to develop.
Explosiveness: As illustrated by his pedestrian 40 time, I don't see Brossette as a guy that's going to generate those massive explosive plays. He's not gonna win foot races to the end zone at the next level.
Upright Runner: He runs really high, which not something I like. Few backs can stand that style. Adrian Peterson does it, and he's a freak of nature. Running that style will expose him to some gnarly hits at the next level.
I like Brossette. I'm not entirely certain what to make of him. He's listed at six foot and 220 pounds, but doesn't look that large to me. He moves okay, but not superbly. He can be a versatile threat catching the ball, which adds a dimension to his game. He was uber productive in high school, but we all know HS production isn't the best tell of collegiate success.
Brossette, to me, is a vintage SEC back. He's a true one-cut, downhill runner. He can makes catches out of the backfield. He's the type of guy you might see run roughshod over the conference in the late 80s. Yet, I'm a bit afraid of his lack of athletic tools. As such, I think that could relegate him to more of a rotational role. You could liken him to someone like Alfred Blue (who I think is a better athlete than him), who is a passable starter from game to game, but never a guy you'll build your run game around.
That said, it feels odd to state that about a guy who amassed over 9,000 yards in his prep career. Is he LSU starter material? Possibly. Obviously he's never going to go ahead of Fournette. So let's play timeline. Two more years with Fournette. Considering depth, Brossette likely sees snaps this season. That puts him at his junior year, now competing with Derrius Guice and possibly Darrel Williams, still. Anything can happen, but all things considered, he's not in line to overtake Guice. Brossette could surprise and jump ahead, but I could also see him being a guy that contributes steadily throughout his career without ever being "the guy" for LSU.
High End: LSU starter for a year.
Low End: Back-up without many snaps or transfer out.
Realistic: High volume back-up that starts a game here and there, but never takes the full-time starting gig.