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The WR Board: How Does It Play Out?

With an expected big WR class, who is in?

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Louisiana State vs Louisville Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After the departures of Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural this offseason and D.J. Chark and Russell Gage as seniors, there will be a lot of playing time up for grabs in the upcoming seasons. While guys like Dee Anderson, Drake Davis and Stephen Sullivan will likely get their opportunities in the 2017 season, there is still a level of unexpectedness in the future outlook. With a few already committed and one signed, there is still at least two spots left to fill for Mickey Joseph. Who fills those spots? Well, come on in.

Already There

Jonathan Giles

Jonathan Giles transferred out of Texas Tech, joining fellow transfer Breiden Fehoko to leave Lubbock in search of a more competitive environment, along with Tech’s uncertainty at QB following the departure of Patrick Mahomes to the draft. Giles had 69 receptions for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns last year, and is already at Baton Rouge to sit out this year and will have two years remaining once he becomes available.

Giles provides a solid possession type slot receiver that will be a solid complement to expected outside players like Anderson, Sullivan and Davis. He doesn’t have the elite speed, but does an excellent job of getting open, like a Jarvis Landry-type receiver, minus the elite hands that Landry possesses.

Already In

Jaray Jenkins

While Giles is your possession-type slot receiver, Jenkins is the speedster slot model. Committed back on March 13, Jenkins is almost a Chark clone but a little more raw as a receiver. Matt Canada has a track record of using speedsters in a variety of ways to utilize that quality from his receivers, so expect to see Jenkins used in a variety of ways.

Kenan Jones

At 6-3, Kenan Jones has good size for a receiver and a solid frame at 205 pounds. Normally with that size, most high schools just have guys like that run go routes all day and just throw it up to them. The good thing for Jones is that the Berwick coaches have him run a variety of routes to get the ball in his hands. Jones has good enough speed for a guy his size and is one not too keen on going down at first contact, a good trait to have for a young wideout.

The Top Choices

Ja’Marr Chase

Normally, Terrace Marshall would lead this board, but since Chase will be announcing soon, he kind of becomes of most importance right now. Chase has turned in an impressive summer that has put him into the conversation of a 1A and 1B for the top wide receiver in the state. While Chase is said to be down to LSU, TCU and Tennessee, it will come down to the first two and it’s basically split in terms of where the analysts think he is going.

Chase showed what makes him great at the New Orleans Regional to earn a berth to The Opening, which occurs right after his announcement date. While Chase is listed at 6-1, he has a solid frame and good strength that he uses extremely well to box out defenders like a basketball player going up for a rebound.

Prediction: LSU, eventually, but the route there may be a bit froggy.

Terrace Marshall

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that not every recruiting site has him listed as the top wide receiver. I’m sorry that not every recruiting site has him listed in the top ten overall. Marshall is the type of receiver that can change the outlook of a team. There is nothing this guy doesn’t have. Great size? Check, 6-3, 190 pounds, perfect frame. Speed? Check, it doesn’t matter what route he runs, he’s going to get open. And if he gets in the open field, forget about it. Leaping ability? Check, you’re not beating him in a jump-ball scenario, plain and simple. He is just the complete package, a franchise receiver.

Little anecdote: I went down to Destrehan for the holidays two years ago, and since we were there, we decided to go see the Wildcats play Parkway in the playoffs. Parkway obviously had recognition from Brandon Harris going there. While everyone knew it was going to be a high-scoring affair, a lot of the focus was on Parkway’s QB Keondre Wudtee, who is at Oklahoma State now. Marshall, then a sophomore, wasn’t really getting the press he is now, but he immediately stood out. It didn’t matter who Destrehan put on him, he kept scoring to where everyone in the stands was going, “Damn, who’s that number 88 out there?” I think everyone knows who he is now.

While Marshall has stated he has a final four of LSU, Texas, Texas A&M and Miami, you have to believe TCU is hidden up there as well. Why? Well, his Parkway QB Justin Rogers is committed there as TCU looks to set up a stronghold in Louisiana. However, most believe LSU has a sizable margin over the rest of the pack.

Prediction: LSU as TCU nips at their heels

If LSU received the commitments of both Chase and Marshall, they might close up shop and call it a day at the position. But what if they want one more? What if Chase does pick TCU and stays with them in the end? You need a backup plan, and LSU has quite a few options if needed. While this won’t be them all, this is the more likely options.

Devonta Jason

C’mon, do you really think Devonta Jason is going to stay committed to a school that hasn’t won more than five games since 2009? A team that has won THREE total conference games in the last six seasons? A team that no one on the campus really cares about because basketball will always be king there? All because of a coach Tony Hull? Highly doubtful. Devonta, or better known by his nickname Whop, has offers from any major school you can think of, and was an LSU commit up until July 9th of last year. If you really think he’s going to stick it through with Kansas, I’ve got some land I want to sell you.

Jason might be the best jumpball receiver in the state, and that’s saying something with Marshall in this class as well. While Jason is listed at 6-3 and 211 pounds, he looks and plays a lot bigger. Combine that with solid leaping ability and Jason is a handful to deal with. His knock, and it’s kind of a big one, is a big lack of speed. Jason has a little trouble getting open, which isn’t the end of the world for a guy his size. He will just have to focus on using his size more to his advantage and become a solid, move-the-chains type outside receiver.

Lawrence Keys III

If LSU were to go after another slot receiver, expect that guy to be Keys. It’s quickly apparent the speed is there in his highlights, and Keys is a very fluid runner with the ball in his hands, making it look easy for him out there.

Kamryn Babb

Maybe it’s because he is up in Missouri, but Kamryn Babb is a name that comes and goes on a monthly basis. Things go eerily quiet, and then all of a sudden there’s an article or an LSU mention that has the Tigers right there in the chase. Compared to all the other wide receivers previously mentioned, Babb is your complete wide receiver. At 6-1, 190, he can be a mismatch for any CB with his speed and route running, along with a solid aptitude for the jump ball. Even at that size, Babb will occasionally line up at QB for his team, basically as a runner, but it still shows the athleticism that he possesses. It will definitely be a hard press to pull him down south, especially with Ohio State gaining a lot of momentum.

Justin Watkins

No need to adjust your screen. This is the same Justin Watkins that was once an LSU commit, along with a Florida State and Texas commit as well. Decisiveness is not his strong suit. Watkins is back on the market, and one of the key teams is LSU. At least this time, Watkins has said he will wait until NSD to make his final announcement, which can hopefully make that final team feel a little better. There’s also a good reason he was once committed to three schools of that caliber: Watkins is electric with the ball in his hands. He may be the top wide receiver in this class in that regard. There’s not too many guys that look like they are running with the fast forward button pressed, but he definitely fits the bill. I would try to tell you who I think leads, but when you’ve de-committed from three different schools, I’m unsure if he even knows who leads at this point.

Slade Bolden

While Slade Bolden is listed as a running back, Bolden was worked out heavily at WR at LSU’s recent Elite Camp, and even had Orgeron’s attention for most of one of the days he was there. He put on a strong performance as a slot-type receiver with his speed and athleticism, but it remains to be seen how this one ends up. A solid baseball player as well, he is rumored to be one of TCU’s big targets in Louisiana, so it would be same to presume that TCU and the home-state Tigers are at the top of the list.

Brennan Eagles

Jalen Preston

Brennan Eagles and Jalen Preston were two of the biggest names in Texas that shot up LSU’s board, moreso with Eagles than Preston. Both are dominant big wide receivers on the outside while Eagles’ best years are ahead him with his brimming potential. However, Eagles is planning to announce on July 17th and it would appear the in-state Longhorns will be getting some happy news with the recent momentum that Tom Herman is riding. Preston appears to be favoring Texas A&M currently, but with their coach sitting on a seat hotter than a spicy bowl of jambalaya, Preston isn’t making anything solid just yet.

There’s a few names further down the list that could find an offer later in the season if things fall through or they ball out in their senior season like Tommy Bush near San Antonio, Texas, Jammal Houston out of John Ehret, Sam Pinckney from South Carolina and Miles Battle from Houston, Texas.

As of now, I’m going to go with Terrace Marshall and Ja’Marr Chase in this class, Lawrence Keys as well if they go three more receivers. While Chase may decide on TCU come July 2nd (not what I’m predicting as it’s way too close to call), it will be far from over as Chase is one of those that is insistent on seeing the LSU offense under Canada so things could easily change. Marshall and Chase would be a duo that would be talked about for decades in the same breath as Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham I feel. Either way, there’s a lot of talent at the position this year, even with the names further down the list. Mickey Joseph should come out pretty solid in his first year as the LSU receivers coach.