Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Team Recruiting Countdown: No. 13 LSU Tigers

No. 13 LSU Tigers (SEC No. 4)

2008 Haul: 26 signees, 3 Athlon Consensus 100

Scouting Report:

Les Miles picked up right where Nick Saban left off. He stock piled talent for a few years and turned it into a National Championship. Barring a trip to the NFL, Miles should have a nice roster for years to come. Although not star-studded, the 2008 LSU recruiting class is none-the-less loaded once again.

With the decisions to return by Derry Beckwith and Tyson Jackson, the front seven on defense should again be very tough. The offensive front needed to be addressed, however. Miles succeeded by landing six potential blockers up front as well as two, possibly three, tight ends. Greg Shaw (Miami, Fla.) and local product Clay Spencer (Baton Rouge, La.) lead a deep group of offensive lineman. The versatile Matt Branch (Monroe, La.) could end up as a tackle or tight end. Chase Clement (Thibodaux, La.) could end being a star at either tight end or defensive end.

The secondary also took a hit to graduation. Chevis Jackson, Craig Steltz, and Jonathan Zenon are all going to try their hand at the NFL. Two Florida products should help remedy the depth in the defensive backfield. Patrick Johnson of Pompano Beach and Karnell Hatcher of Delray Beach are possibly the best two prospects in this class and should immediately shore up the secondary.

LSU has no shortage of playmakers on the outside. Demetrius Byrd, DeAngelo Benton and Terrance Tolliver signed with LSU in last year’s class. This year’s version is very similar. Benton, originally from Bastrop, La., had to attend Hargrave Military Academy last season in order to get his qualifying grades. Now, he heads back to Louisiana as a member of the ’08 class. There is a Tolliver in this class as well. Chris Tolliver (Rayville, La.) is lightning quick and can separate as well as any receiver in this well-documented 2008 wide receiver class. LSU should again be loaded at wideout.

With Ryan Perrilloux’s ability to get suspended, leadership from the signal caller position may be the biggest issue on this football team in 2008. ’07 recruit Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson (Destrehan, La.) could see some early reps with the first team this summer if things continue on their destructive path with Perrilloux.

LSU does not quite have the inherent recruiting advantages as schools in Texas, Florida or California but it might be a close fourth. The state of Louisiana always produces talent and 2008 was no exception. The Bayou Bengals landed 14 in-state talents. It is the ability for the Tigers to dip into powerhouse states of Florida and Texas that makes recruiting to LSU so successful. Miles landed four kids each, including its top two prospects, from the Lone Star and Sunshine States.

Don’t look now, but the state of Louisiana is loaded in 2009. Look for LSU to really focus on its home territory next season.

Top Prospect: Patrick Johnson — CB — Pompano Beach, Fla. (6-1, 195) AC100 No. 9

Very rarely does a prospect have Johnson's combination of size and speed at the corner position. It is especially important at this position for two reason. First, the size and speed of the wide receiver, in the 2008 class in particular, is getting to be ridiculous. The days of the 5’7” cornerback are slowly fading. Second, generally speaking, the cornerback is the least coached position coming out of high school. The natural instincts are really on display at the corner position in high school.

Johnson has great speed, solid ball skills and ideal size. He can also be a great offensive weapon; he is athletic enough to be given the ball on an end around for example. He does a solid job while tackling in the open field. He breaks down properly. He will, however, need to work on playing low. His body type and big frame make it harder for him against the smaller slot wideouts.

The manner with which he handled the recruitment process raises questions about where his head is located. He has superior physical tools but will he be able to maintain focus?

Best of the Rest:

Chancey Aghayere – DE – Garland, Texas (6-4, 245) AC100 No. 42
Chris Tolliver – WR – Rayville, La. (6-1, 185) AC100 No. 72
Chase Clement – TE/DE – Thibodaux, La. (6-5, 240)
Karnall Hatcher – S – Delray Beach, Fla. (6-2, 195)
Jordan Jefferson – QB – Destrehan, La. (6-4, 200)
Matt Branch – TE/OL – Monroe, La. (6-6, 240)
Ryan Baker – LB – Blountstown, Fla. (6-0, 210)
Brandon Taylor – DB – Franklinton, La. (5-11, 180)
DeAngelo Benton – WR – Chatham, Va. (6-3, 195)
Greg Shaw – OL – Miami, Fla. (6-6, 280)

Sleeper: Kyle Prater — LB — Kerrville, Texas (6-2, 220)

Prater is an attacking, versatile prospect from the linebacker spot. He could end up at either inside or outside backer. In the middle is where he is likely to play due to his ability to flow through traffic. He does a great job of moving through debris and getting to the ball carrier. He also shows great diagnosis ability and has high football IQ.

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