As a child, I often played sports games from a personnel man’s perspective. Whether it be the NCAA Football series, Madden, RBI Baseball, or Tony LaRussa Baseball 3, I always loved the art of roster construction. Now and again I’d take a spin at the actual game play component, but the most fun and the most memorable piece to me was always building the team. I loved mastering the mechanics of building the perfect team. I loved learning how to beat the AI by stringing together the right collection of players or crunching the salary cap numbers to sign the missing piece.
Realistically, it’s probably the piece that laid the foundation for my love of recruiting. It’s the art of roster building. Each year, watching the recruiting dominoes fall in each signing class leads to a calculated game of chess. Coaches and their staffs construct detailed big boards years in advance and planting seeds through early contact. Diligence is often paid off, but the best programs know how to pivot when the bagmen don’t come through on that top 50 player they penciled in atop their board.
LSU’s extreme WR attrition made signing top tier WRs a major need in the 2017 signing class. When top 100 WR and early enrollee Jhamon Ausbon elected to de-commit in November, about a week before Orgeron would be tabbed as Les Miles successor, it set the gears in motion for the staff to put a full court press on available targets. Facing a thin pool of remaining targets, the staff set their eyes in-state and after an impressive senior campaign, New Orleans WR Racey McMath rose to the top of the board.
Is McMath merely a last minute depth addition or could he make an impact at LSU?
Back of the Card
110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has "can’t miss" talent.
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. There will be 32 prospects ranked in this range in every football class to mirror the first round of the NFL Draft.
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 is projected to play professionally.
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. Many three-stars have significant pro potential.
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.
247 Composite Ranking: ***
247 Composite Rating: .8610
Ranked 608th overall and as the 90th WR in the 2017 signing class, McMath didn’t receive any national accolades. He did make 4A All-State in football while also running on the 4X200 relay team, for Edna Karr, which finished 3rd place at state. This is illustrative of his overall speed.
That speed in combination with his 6’3”, 215 pound frame are the primary reasons for his offer. His remaining offers were either in-state schools or second tier type P5 programs, excluding Texas A&M and perhaps Arizona and Mississippi State. It’s not a full picture, but it does give you an idea of where McMath ranked in the eyes of the national recruiting landscape. And this while playing for a a school with major exposure in the New Orleans metro area.
On The Field
Already There: Size, Strength, Hands Catcher,
Working on It: Route Running
Doesn’t Have It: Quickness
Size: McMath has a big, college ready frame. He’s thickly built and unlike most of his peers, won’t have to wait a year or two adding mass to really exploit his physical traits. Of course he can get stronger and probably even add more mass, but 6’3”, 215 is about the playing weight Larry Fitzgerald carried throughout his career.
Strength: Some big dudes are soft. Even with overwhelming physical advantages, they don’t enjoy the contact aspect of the game. McMath is a tough, tenacious runner with the ball in his hands. Look at :34 where he lowers his shoulder and is able to absorb a blow from a hard charging defender. He then runs through an arm tackle and breaks free for six. At :51, it’s a simple slant pattern, but he again absorbs a blow from a crashing safety who fails to wrap up. 6:10 I just want to take a moment to acknowledge his strength and willingness as a blocker.
Hands Catcher: McMath plucks the ball out of the air pretty consistently. He’s not one to let the ball get into his body as a catcher. His hands are always high and out front, ready to pluck the ball. But the play at 1:03 shows you just how strong his hands really are. Leaping back to pluck a throw well behind him, he easily snags the ball from the air. 1:39 and 1:54 are both routine catches, but I like seeing the consistent effort to hands catch.
Working On It
Route Running: McMath’s abilities here are fairly rudimentary. You don’t see him having to run many routes that rely on quick cuts or finding holes in the defense. He’s primarily a man coverage beater, either in the screen game, using his body in plays like slants or jump balls, or just straight down the field trying to take the top off the defense.
Doesn’t Have It
Quickness: There’s not much wiggle to him. McMath isn’t a make-you-miss type of WR. He’s a one-cut and get downhill player. His speeds look top notch, but he’s not going to shake defenders to hit that extra gear and won’t likely find it as easy to utilize that speed on the next level. It also gives me concern for his ability to develop as a route runner. A guy like Mannie Netherly may be similarly raw as a route runner, but he’s got top end quickness that should allow him to eventually thrive there. McMath is a bit of a one-trick pony.
Poseur’s 80s Movie Comparison
80s action movies are the best. These days, movies which are ironically brain dead attract critical acclaim and audience acclaim, particularly from detached hipsters who can pretend they don’t like John Wick just because its two hours of senseless, over the top acton. Oh no, it’s all about the dog. 80s action movies were earnestness in their brain deadness, and there was no ironic distance between enjoying explosions and people getting the head kicked in. Subtlety took the decade off.
Racey McMath is the second tier action movie, Action Jackson. Now, this might seem like an insult, but I mean this as a compliment: Action Jackson is immune to subtlety or irony. There is no artificial distance in the movie. It’s just Carl Weathers being super awesome. And that’s Racey McMath. He’s not Sly or Arnie, but he can still be an action star. And his style is one of directness. He’s going to go right at you, and make his name through physical violence. He’s as real as the sunshine. McMath is a football player.
He’s not a superstar, he’s just an outstanding watch on a Saturday afternoon.
What the Future Holds
McMath is definitely a D1 talent, albeit one with a limited upside. I’m fairly certain he doesn’t find his way into this LSU signing class if they could have held on to Jhamon Ausbon. Ausbon is a similarly built receiver with all the top end physical traits.
That said, that doesn’t mean he can’t play. Orgeron already mentioned that all the WRs will likely see run this year to keep legs fresh. His size and willingness to block should further aid his case for seeing early PT. As LSU goes multiple WR sets, McMath may very well be on the field. Now, will he receive any targets? I wouldn’t count on that, necessarily. He’s likely to be the 3rd, 4th or even 5th read on the majority of plays.
McMath’s long term potential lies wholly in his size/speed combo. He registered only a 33” vertical leap, which isn’t ideal for a big WR, but does make sense. He doesn’t look terribly explosive. I think there’s a path there where he becomes your no. 2 guy, at best. He can almost definitely be a guy that can take up deep safeties with his speed. That same speed should play in the screen game, though his lack of quickness may bite him there.
McMath’s got some potential, but there looks to be a long road ahead to him being a significant contributor.
High End: Solid no. 2 WR that can get deep and make catches for you when called on. Think Demetrius Byrd.
Low End: WR body depth that could transfer out to a smaller school to maximize playing time.
Realistic: I think he’s a long term role player at the WR position. He’ll probably wind up like Kadron Boone, a player consistently in the rotation but never a major factor in the passing game.