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Better Know a Freshman: Dominic Livingston

Another big, bad dude in the 2018 signing class.

We’ve talked extensively about O’s desire to beef up the LSU lines. It’s a strategic point of emphasis for Orgeron. And we’ve talked about how, while Miles didn’t disregard size, he trended toward valuing more mobile/athletic prospects over bigger/stronger ones. Strategically, it enabled LSU to flex right into a spread-stopping attack. But while LSU evolved ahead of most other college defenses, it started to fall back behind when it came to competing with powerhouse teams across the country. LSU could run but could get run over.

And so Orgeron is working to fix it. He’s adjusting priorities and valuing the bigger and badder a little more. Will it work? Time will tell.

The Story

Houston’s long been a hot bed of LSU recruiting. Just four hours East on I-10, LSU benefitted from selling the ability to play in the SEC and stay close to home. A&M’s entrance into the conference polluted that pitch a bit, but still it remained an area LSU found continued success. The dynamics are changing with Texas, typically not a major player in Houston, now being lead by Tom Herman, himself with Houston ties; the entrance of Jimbo Fisher to College Station; and the University of Houston itself slowly raising its profile. Houston’s never been more contended.

Dominic LIvingston was never amongst the very top players in the State this cycle, but he remained coveted all the same due to his exceptional combination of size and athletic ability. K-State and A&M delivered offers the summer before his Junior season, and SMU followed suit that Fall. From the outset, Livingston set his eyes on A&M and made his verbal pledge after his Junior season.

More offers followed. Indiana. Minnesota. Colorado. Missouri. Texas Tech. One month into Livingston’s senior season, he lined up an official visit to Colorado. Two weeks later, LSU came through with their offer. In late October, nearing a full year as a verbal commitment to A&M, Livingston re-opened his recruitment.

And then, in a way that only Orgeron seems to be able to achieve, things went oddly quiet. Orgeron stopped in to visit Livingston at the end of November. That same weekend, Texas A&M made a big splash, hiring Jimbo. Could they get back into the mix with Livingston?

The next week, Livingston rescheduled his official visits, re-scheduling a planned visit to College Station, opting instead to head to Baton Rouge. On that trip, he made his verbal pledge. He would never take his official visit to College Station. Livingston signed during the early signing period 12 days later.

The Numbers

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 Rating: ***
247 Composite Ranking: .8763

Squarely a three star and I believe he maintained that ranking throughout the process. The number that counts with Big Dom is 380. That’s reportedly his current weight during Fall Camp. 380 is around the same weight Tyler Shelvin showed up at last year. Remember, O remained heavily critical of Shelvin and his need to get into shape, throughout the season. I can’t imagine he would feel any differently toward Livingston. The two are remarkably similar in stature, standing at six-foot-three and well over the 350 pound mark. Will Livingston need the same year off to get himself into playing shape?

The Film

You can tell right on that Livingston is just an absolute load. Playing in 6A football in Texas and Livingston is the biggest guy on the field in every single highlight. There’s simply no denying his prolific size. Unfortunately, doesn’t look like all good weight. He’s massive, but he’s sloppy.

Here’s the good news: Big Dom is no slob on the field. He moves very well for someone carrying so much bad weight. He’s quick out of stance, albeit inconsistently and actually flashes some ability to make plays in the backfield. Dom isn’t just your big, sluggish bully. I’m also impressed by his hustle. He chases plays down field. He runs down the line of scrimmage. He shows effort.

Naturally, he’s powerful. His pad level, he could find some more consistency. That should come with time and he does flash playing with leverage at times. If he consistently masters that, he could be a real load on the inside.

The Future

It’s early, but Orgeron called Livingston out already stating he was making plays all day during LSU’s first practice on Saturday. How long can a guy that’s 380 pounds keep that up? Could Livingston be a unique freak athlete, a la Vince Wilfork? Well, maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it. At that weight it will be difficult for him to be counted upon as a reliable contributor.

It’s also worth considering that LSU’s depth chart is in pretty good shape right now. Breiden Fehoko switched to NT and Ed Alexander will back him up. Count Tyler Shelvin as another rotational body, and LSU is three-deep at NT.

That said, if Livingston can give quality snaps, even only a handful at a time, I don’t think the staff would pass that up. Playable depth is playable depth and if Livingston keeps making plays throughout Fall camp, it will simply be tough to go the RS route with him.

Livingston is probably more athletic than you might imagine. Despite his heft, he’s no slug. That said, 380 is not an ideal playing weight. I think he needs to drop around 40 pounds to really be a decent playing weight. Potentially more. That’s probably two offseasons away. For now, Livingston should focus on refining his technique and keep bringing his lunch pail every day. Do that and keep his weight in check? He’s got a great chance at being a starter. Half ass either? He’s a rotational guy. Half ass both? He could be gone in a year.

High End: Starter. Anchor of the defense as a thumper in the middle.
Low End: Fizzles out after failing to get into quality shape.
Realistic: I think he gets there, but it takes a couple years. Livingston takes a RS in 2018, gets himself into better shape, comes back a contributor in 2019 and maybe ascends to starting in 2020 or 2021. He’s a perfect candidate for building long term depth on the DL.