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Reviewing LSU’s Legendary 2014 Signing Class: Hits, Misses and The Rest

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Taking a look back at LSU’s class from 2014.

Mississippi v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

As we approach another signing day and LSU ramps up bowl prep, let’s take a quick look back at the 2014 signing class. We shall bid farewell to the final members of the class after the Fiesta Bowl.

Hop in your time machine and go back to 2014 to do a quick refresh on the 2014 signing class, which, at the time, many believed may be the best LSU signing class of all time. Here’s a quick table:

2014 Signing Class

Player Star Rating Rating
Player Star Rating Rating
Leonard Fournette 5 0.9996
Malachi Dupre 5 0.9918
Clifton Garrett 5 0.9863
Jamal Adams 5 0.985
Ed Paris 4 0.9795
Brandon Harris 4 0.9651
Trey Quinn 4 0.9631
Garrett Brumfield 4 0.9526
Davon Godchaux 4 0.9364
Deondre Clark 4 0.9347
Jacory Washington 4 0.9253
Devin Voorhies 4 0.9178
Will Clapp 4 0.9054
Darrel Williams 4 0.9027
Jevonte Domond 4 0.8967
Tony Upchurch 4 0.8931
Sione Teuhema 3 0.8847
John Battle 3 0.88
DJ Chark 3 0.8752
Trey Lealimatafao 3 0.8737
Donnie Alexander 3 0.8735
Russell Gage 3 0.8455
Cameron Gamble 3 0.8125
Colin Jeter 0 0
Travonte Valentine 4 0.9699

HITS

Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams, Garrett Brumfield, Davon Godchaux, Will Clapp, Darrel Williams, John Battle, DJ Chark, Russell Gage

Fournette: Billed as the second coming, Fournette lived up to and even exceeded the hype. He was a transcendent SEC talent that became a top draft pick. It’s a shame LSU’s passing game never came along to support him. Better Know a Freshman.

Adams: I remember first watching Adams tape and thinking, “why would anyone want Hootie Jones over this guy?” This is the test case for why it’s not the end of the world for top Louisiana prospects to leave the state. Adams far outperformed Hootie and became a legitimate superstar. Better Know a Freshman.

Garrett Brumfield: I’d be wrong if I said I didn’t expect more from Brumfield, but it’s hard to not call four-year contributor and two-year starter a success. Brumfield never became an All-American, but he was a very capable starter. Better Know a Freshman.

Davon Godchaux: He didn’t get a ton of hype due to his injury his senior year, but Godchaux held a top 150 ranking. I was a big fan of his game and he wound up being dead wrong about my prediction of his timeline. Godchaux took a starting role as a freshman and never looked back. Now he’s a quality NFL starter on the Dolphins. Better Know a Freshman.

Will Clapp: Clapp somehow barely eclipsed the 4-star barrier, but I was always keen on him. I thought it may take time, but much like Godchaux, it did not. After redshirting, Clapp became a freshman All-American, becoming a 3-year starter and eventually a Rimington finalist. He’s not discussed this way, but Clapp is genuinely one of the best OL of the Miles era and in the last decade at LSU.

Darrel Williams: Darrel Williams could have gone to Tennessee or Arizona State and been the lead dog. Instead, he chose to come to LSU, signing in the same class as Leonard Fournette. Pause and think how remarkable that is from every angle. Williams then spent his entire LSU career playing in the shadows of Fournette and then Derrius Guice. Then he signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent and made the team. Williams career is a resounding success and a real testament to grit. He’s truly one of my favorite LSU players ever. Better Know a Freshman.

John Battle: Battle was a guy that was difficult to pin down as a recruit. Listed at six foot and 180 pounds, he seemed corner size. He’s now listed at six-foot-two and 206 pounds. Battle grew and matured into a quality SEC safety and a team leader. Is he a star? No. Did he punch Jimbo’s punk ass nephew in the jaw? Yes. For that alone, he’s a hit. Better know a Freshman.

DJ Chark: Chark was a recruit met with tepid response. I liked his athletic upside but you just never know with players that raw. Chark, of course, went on to become LSU’s best WR since Beckham/Landry. Although he never hit 1,000 yards, he caught 40 passes, returned a punt to help beat Auburn and went on to be a high NFL draft pick. That’s a hit for a 3-star. Better a Know a Freshman.

Russell Gage: I toss Gage here because he was a late take that wound up in the class because Tony Brown picked Bama over LSU. Most were devastated by that news, but in the end, I think LSU got the better player. Brown was all over the map at Bama, in and out of the lineup, battling trouble and eventually undrafted. Gage became a starter his junior season, put together some great plays as a Senior and had a penchant for avoiding defenders by jumping the hell over them. AND he got drafted. He’s a hit. Better Know a Freshman.

MISSES

Malachi Dupre, Clifton Garrett, Ed Paris, Brandon Harris, Trey Quinn, Deondre Clark, Jacory Washington, Devin Voorhies, Jevonte Domond, Tony Upchurch, Sione Teuhema, Trey Lealimatafao, Donnie Alexander, Cameron Gamble, Colin Jeter, Travonte Valentine

Malachi Dupre: Never really amounted to his recruiting hype. I know some will rush to blame the QBs, but look at this way: Russell Gage signed in the same class and got drafted 60 spots higher than Chi. So, same QB issues, same hamstrung by the offensive system issues and the NFL thought more of him. Chi has a ton of athletic giftings, it just never all rounded into shape. I must also acknowledge, this is relative to ranking. As a three-star, he’s a hit. But as a five-star, not so much. Better Know a Freshman.

Clifton Garrett: Chi is just a miss. Garrett is an utter bust. He lasted barely a year at LSU, played in three games and didn’t record a stat. Then he left and bombed out of football altogether. Devin White became the guy we thought Garrett would be. Better Know a Freshman.

Ed Paris: It just never seemed to come together for Ed. He started at corner and never found his way up the depth chart. Last year he earned a spot as a starting safety, got injured and never got the job back. These things happen. He produced some fantastic locker room dance videos and seemed like a great teammate, though. Better Know a Freshman.

Brandon Harris: Harris has been raked over the coals enough. His football career didn’t go the way we or he wanted it to. After showing some promise, he never progressed and eventually transferred out to UNC. Good kid, just didn’t put it together. Better Know a Freshman.

Trey Quinn: Quinn is a miss for LSU but a success overall. He looked poised to become everything we dreamed but that concussion his freshman season just derailed his entire LSU career. He left for SMU and united with Chad Morris, who nearly won his commitment to Clemson. Trey’s making plays in the NFL now and we’ll always have him crowd surfing after we beat Ole Miss. Better Know a Freshman.

Deondre Clark: For whatever reason, Clark just never did much of anything at LSU. He must have been solid enough in the locker room that the coaches wanted to keep him around, because unlike Ed Paris, who remained in the 2-deep, Clark was barely a rotational player and even then only after injury. Better Know a Freshman.

Jacory Washington: The Deondre Clark of offense. Washington and his imposing frame seemed like would make an intriguing receiving option and instead he’s barely ever contributed. Better Know a Freshman

Devin Voorhies: Voorhies never really found his home on defense. He played special teams consistently, but after toying at safety he became a linebacker. Never really an impact player, which you grow to expect from a Gatorade Player of the Year. Better Know a Freshman.

Jevonte Domond: Never rose up the depth chart and got booted off the team for assaulting a woman. Good riddance. Better Know a Freshman.

Tony Upchurch: Never was really an SEC-level take. Never found a role and transferred out. Better Know a Freshman.

Sione Teuhema: More or less a take to secure his younger brother. I remember Sione flashing some serious pass rush on a single play where he really bent the edge like an elite player. He never really found his footing battling injuries and disciplinary issues. Better Know a Freshman.

Trey Lealimatafao: Redshirted, got booted, transferred and then got arrested. Now in jail. Better Know a Freshman.

Donnie Alexander: Donnie’s fine. He played here and there, moved into a starting role last year and promptly lost it as the freshmen emerged. He was a three-star, but it feels excessive to call him a hit. He was about what I expected. Better Know a Freshman.

Cameron Gamble: Gamble came with solid enough hype for having a monster leg, but the dude couldn’t manage to kick it out of the end zone with any consistency. He never secured a starting role. That’s a bust for a scholarship-level kicker. Better Know a Freshman.

Colin Jeter: Unranked as a recruit, a late add. He started 17 games and I don’t really know what that says about him or the LSU offense in that span. He caught 23 total passes. You know, I guess technically he’s a hit because he was expected to do nothing at all and well, he didn’t not do anything. Better Know a Freshman.

Travonte Valentine: The great elusive nose tackle. Valentine was to be a signature cherry on top of the great sundae signing class and while he did make it to campus, he wound up being held out due to SEC review or some inane bullshit. It’s hard to say what would have happened to his career if that didn’t occur. There were always rumors of him absolutely dominating upperclassmen linemen in practice. He eventually got booted but then went to JUCO got right and came back only to leave again. Valentine never came together and I can’t help but believe it’s partially due to the fact that he got held hostage by the SEC as a young man and he couldn’t get that taste of football that could have helped him push some of his baser desires and bad habits to the background. Better Know a Freshman.

THE WHAT COULD HAVE BEENS

Sione Palelei: Committed to LSU for about six months his senior year, he flipped to Oklahoma State and signed there. Battled injuries as a senior and in Stillwater and never played a down of college football as far as I can tell.

Speedy Noil: Early on it looked like Noil would be intent on making LSU feel the wrath of his loss. He looked like a quality player as a freshman at A&M but then fell out of favor and into disciplinary issues. Ultimately undrafted. He’s in the CFL now.

D’haquille Willliams: After a couple JUCO stints, he finally signed with Auburn and had a so-so career there. He is also in the CFL, but starring, leading the league in receiving yards this past season.

Cam Robinson: Robinson became a star at Alabama and eventual 2nd round pick. He had a run-in with the law prior to his senior season and battled some injuries, but no way to argue LSU couldn’t have used him from 2014-2016.

Derrick Kelly: Down to the wire battle with FSU, Kelly picked the Noles. He played a ton on some of the worst FSU lines in recent history. So, not sure it’s a major loss.

Rod Taylor: Took a while to get on the field and wound up starting 12 games as a right tackle for Ole Miss. Drafted late. Just an okay player.

Lorenzo Carter: Solid player for UGA but never really lived up to his five-star status. Still, would have been a quality player for LSU.

Gerald Willis: Troubled. Bounced out of Florida for disciplinary issues. In and out of trouble at Miami. He made all-ACC this year on the 2nd team defense. He’s a really good player with some issues. LSU could have used good Gerald but bad Gerald, not so much.

Breeland Speaks: All-SEC player, second-round NFL draft pick and father of one of the greatest college football gifs of all time. Definitely could have used him.

Kain Daub: Committed to LSU for a few months, he signed with the Noles and never materialized at FSU, transferred out to JUCO and then signed with FAU where he only played lightly.

Otaro Alaka: Late interest in LSU but ultimately signed with A&M. Became a big time threat for A&M as a backfield disruptor. Late round NFL draft prospect. Could have been a nice player for Aranda even though he was recruited for Chavis.

Adoree’ Jackson: Became a sensational star at USC. Long shot for LSU but did visit. Thorpe winner. 1st round pick. Yeah, coulda used him.

Tony Brown: Mentioned above. We did better with Russell Gage.

Hootie Jones: Never really materialized in college and isn’t in the league.

Summary

10 Hits

15 Misses

40% success rate

Not great. The hits were big, but the misses were too. This was judged to be one of the best classes in LSU history and wound up being kinda so-so? Harris/Dupre being just average and Garrett/Valentine outright busting takes it down several notches. Fournette may have carried the LSU offense but he can’t carry this signing class to legendary status alone.