Recruiting: Where We Stand – July

Recruiting has been fairly quiet since the camp in June, but I expect things to heat up again later this month when LSU hosts their second camp of the summer.  Currently, the Tigers sit at 15 verbal commitments and the word on the street is that they may only be looking to take around 21 in this class.  Therefore, that only leaves six or seven spots remaining if LSU does indeed sign less than the maximum 25 players.  Here is my opinion on how things may finish out.   

We’ll start by taking a look at prospects who hold offers from LSU.  Currently, three Louisiana players who are uncommitted have LSU offers.  Those players are: 

S  Landon Collins (pictured)
LB/DE  Denzel Devall
OL  Derek Edinburgh

I feel that LSU is in pretty good shape with Collins and in great shape with Edinburgh, and in the end, I think the Tigers land them both.   On the other hand, Devall seems much more open to leaving the state.  He often talks about Alabama and Texas A&M and how he sees himself fitting into their 3-4 defensive scheme.  But LSU will not go down without a fight.  We all know the Tigers should always be considered the team to beat for any in-state prospects.  But as of right now, I would not be too terribly shocked if Devall signs somewhere out of state. 

Next, we’ll turn our attention to out of state prospects that LSU has offered and has a good chance of signing.   

LSU will have to look out of state at the quarterback position and as of right now, three names stand out.

Jameis Winston – Hueytown, AL
Jeremy Liggins – Oxford, MS
Anthony Alford – Petal, MS

Winston is the best prospect of the three in my opinion, but he’s also the least likely to end up at LSU.  His final three teams are LSU, Florida State, and Alabama.   And while he’s made numerous visits to Baton Rouge, most seem to think that his decision will come down to Bama and Florida State.  Winston has mentioned that he may make a decision this month.  Winston is also a top notch baseball prospect and will likely be drafted very high in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft.  The chance exists that he could sign with pro baseball and never play college football.  I’m sure none of us feel like re-living the Zach Lee drama.  

Alford is the best athlete of the three.  He’s a legit quarterback prospect, but he could have a future at a different position if things do not work out behind center.  Alford is also a big-time Major League prospect, even more so than Winston and it’s therefore pretty unlikely that he ends up in college.  However, Alford has maintained that LSU is his leader and that he wants to go to college and play both sports.  I suspect he will change is tune once he’s drafted and he realizes just how much money he could be passing up.  Regardless, it seems foolish for LSU, or any school for that matter, to put all their eggs into Alford’s basket.

It should be noted that Major League Baseball is strongly considering setting hard compensation packages for draft picks depending on draft position.  In other words, the #24 overall pick will be offered X dollars, and that’s it.  The days of huge bonuses well above “slot” position, like we saw with Zach Lee, could be over.  That could be an interesting thing to watch for whatever team signs Winston and Alford to be their quarterback.  

That brings us to Liggins, who is a 6’3″ 260 pound monster.   He moves surprisingly well for such a big guy and is definitely a threat to run.  But he also shows off a big arm.  His mechanics and especially his footwork look pretty rough, and he’ll require a good bit of coaching up on his fundamentals once he gets to college.  But the good news is that he’ll likely go to college unlike Winston and Alford.  Liggins is strongly considering LSU along with Alabama, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss.   

In my opinion, LSU should focus on Liggins regardless of the fact that they may like Winston or Alford more.  If they can get him on board, then they can try to sign Alford or Winston as icing on the cake.  But if the staff feels that they need a quarterback in this class, it would be very unwise to sign ONLY Alford or Winston.  

Continuing to look east, LSU is hot after Buford, GA offensive lineman Vadal Alexander who is one of the top linemen prospects in the nation.  Alexander is originally from Louisiana and has a lot of family in the state which has given LSU an advantage over the dozens of other schools that have offered him.  It looks like Auburn and Alabama may be the biggest competition for Alexander, but I like LSU’s chances and will consider it a bit of a disappointment if he signs elsewhere.  LSU does have a commitment from Alexander’s high school teammate, Reid Ferguson.  

Switching to defense, a pair of defensive linemen from Mississippi are high on LSU’s wish list.

Defensive end Channing Ward is widely regarded as one of the top D-ends in the nation this year.  The 6’4″ 240 pound prospect offers a slight contrast to some of the other ends that LSU is recruiting that are smaller and quick off the line of scrimmage.  Ward can certainly rush the passer, but he presents a more complete package at defensive end.  LSU is squarely in the mix for Ward’s services along with Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama, Florida State and many others.  Ward seems to like LSU but distance seems to be an issue for him and in the end, I suspect he’ll decide to play somewhere closer to his hometown of Aberdeen.

Long Beach defensive tackle prospect Nick James checks in at 6’5″ 335 pounds, but he’ll surprise you with the way he moves at that size.  He may remind LSU fans of former big DT prospects Al Woods or Chris Davenport, neither of which lived up to their recruiting hype (though Davenport has three years left and is now playing on the OL).   Watching James on film, he demonstrates some of the same flaws as those two — namely playing too high.  But what James also demonstrates is a tremendous effort.  The guy is intense.  LSU appears to lead for James and with no true defensive tackle prospects in Louisiana this year, he suddenly becomes a pretty important part of this class.  

Miami safety Deon Bush has recently been talking up LSU a good bit.  Most believe that Bush will ultimately stay in-state for college, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Now, we’ll head back in-state and look at some of the uncommitted players who do not currently have offers.  A number of these guys will be at LSU’s July camp, competing for the coveted remaining spots in the Class of 2012.  

LSU has three commitments at wide receiver, but they may look to take one more.  Lafayette Northside’s Dwayne Benjamin has pretty impressive film and will be at camp in a couple of weeks.  A strong performance there could earn him an offer.  He’s a big receiver at 6’4″ 195 pounds.  He reportedly has some academic issues to work through which could also prevent him from an offer this summer.  

Winnifield’s Alonzo Moore continues to be one to watch as well but his chances for landing a LSU offer seem to be dwindling.  

A number of defensive linemen will be hoping for that scholarship offer from the Tigers.  The one that is most likely to receive one could be Destrehan’s Bryan Singleton.  Singleton plays defensive end for Destrehan but has the frame to potentially add weight and move inside to tackle.  In my opinion, that versatility makes him a bit more valuable than some of the others on the board and thus, the most likely to earn that offer.  Singleton won the MVP for defensive linemen at a camp in Houston earlier this summer.  If he repeats that performance, he could be in great shape.  He holds offers from several schools including Arkansas and Tennessee.  

A pair of defensive ends from West Monroe will also be camping later this month.  Terrell Lathan and James McFarland will be on hand.  McFarland is currently committed to TCU but has expressed a strong interest in LSU if they were to offer.  He is another guy that may potentially be able to gain weight and slide inside.   Lathan is a guy that has the ideal size and the talent, but that has not translated those skills to the field.  Lathan recently had minor surgery on his knee and perhaps that could explain why his results were a tad less than expected.  However, he’ll be ready to go in time for LSU’s camp.  He holds offers from Arkansas and Ole Miss among others.  

Brother Martin’s Julien Obioha continues to be a guy to watch.  Obioha came to LSU’s camp in June and left without an offer.  It’s unclear whether he’ll be camping in July as well.  

I expect LSU to take one more linebacker in this class, and a pair of in-state prospects are the most likely to get that offer.  Covington’s Otha Peters camped at LSU in June and drew a lot of praise from LSU’s staff; however, they want to get another look at him in July before pulling the trigger on an offer.  LSU reportedly had some reservations about Peters’ height which was a tad under six foot.  

Jesuit’s Deion Jones will be competing with Peters for that spot.   My guess is that Jones gets an offer at camp or shortly after and becomes a part of LSU’s class.  Jones is 6’2″ and has athleticism that is off the charts.  There is some talk of Jones playing safety in college, but I think that’s just talk — He is a linebacker all the way.  

At defensive back, LSU appears to be done with the exception of holding a spot for Landon Collins.  But that does not mean they won’t take a real hard look at a few prospects.   At the top of that list is East St. John’s Darion Monroe, who is currently a commitment to Texas A&M.   Monroe plays quarterback for East St. John, but he has excelled at a number of camp settings as a cornerback.  If he does the same at LSU, then perhaps the staff will feel like they can’t let him get away.  Monroe has seemed open to considering an offer from LSU if he were to receive one.   

I’m a big fan of Lutcher’s Jordan Batiste, who is a commitment to Ole Miss.  Batiste is small, but he could be the best pure cover guy in the state and he plays very tough.  I’m unsure of whether he’ll be at LSU’s camp but if so, he’s certainly one to watch. 

Even though it’s entirely too early for something like this, I’ll give my realistic though admittedly optimistic stab at how this class could finish out.  

16.  QB Jeremy Liggins MS
17.  QB Anthony Alford MS
18.  OL Vadal Alexander GA
19.  OL Derek Edinburgh  Karr HS
20.  WR Dwayne Benhamin Lafayette Northside HS
21.  DE/LB Denzel Devall  Bastrop HS
22.  DE James McFarland  West Monroe HS
23.  DT Nick James MS
24.  S Landon Collins  Dutchtown HS