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Better Know a Freshman: Donte Starks

Linebacker looks close to eligibility, but could be looking at a redshirt.


The depth at linebacker that Dave Aranda has built up over the years likely meant that Donte Starks was heading towards a redshirt, but as Starks takes one final math course to be academically eligible to play, it seems a sure bet that is the path he is headed. Make no mistake about it though, Starks has a solid probability to be a household name among LSU fans in the years to come.

The Story

Shortly after his junior season, Donte Starks made it clear that the home-state LSU Tigers were out in front of all other teams. Even as offers came in from the likes of Florida, Auburn and Oregon, Starks wasted little time, committing to LSU later that summer. Things were shut down following the commitment outside of a courtesy offer from Les Miles and Kansas.

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: .9330

Finishing as a top-10 inside linebacker across the nation, Starks just missed finishing in the top 150 overall.

The Film

One great trait Starks possesses is his ability to read the play developing and quickly getting downhill to put a stop to it before it can get going. At 6-1 and 225 pounds in high school, Starks has a solid and very strong frame as evidenced by the couple suplexes he throws down that would make a WWE wrestler proud (he’ll need to watch that in college football, obviously...still though). With nearly 130 tackles in his senior season, Starks makes sure he is always around the ball. One thing he could improve on is the angles he takes despite having solid sideline-to-sideline speed.

The Future

Like previously mentioned, Starks was facing an uphill climb to see significant playing time this year from the get-go, but his academic issue all but ensures that he will be taking a redshirt this year. With Michael Divinity graduating, along with both Jacob Phillips and Patrick Queen being juniors, playing time will soon be available. Starks definitely has the ability, but he will need to continue progressing in order to stand out from the pack.

High End: Starks uses his tackling ability and impressive strength to anchor the linebacker corps, and becomes the next in line of NFLers at the position.

Low End: His slow start this year causes him to fall too far down the depth charts, but becomes a solid backup at the position.

Realistic: Starks has the ability to be a force in the middle, but will need to play that catch-up. I see him becoming a valuable starter that finds an NFL future.