RECRUITING OUTLOOK 2010: Miles, Tigers Look in New Direction
After reeling in No. 1 class in 2009 loaded with Louisiana prospects, Miles and LSU will likely steer focus out of state in 2010
by Daniel Mingea III
Tiger Rag Recruiting Analyst
(At left) LSU coach Les Miles has finished No. 1 on the field (2007) and on the recruiting trail (2009).
Last year LSU hauled in arguably the nation’s best recruiting class.
It was a class comprised of talents such as Russell Shepard, Rueben Randle, Michael Ford and Craig Loston, among others. The Tigers will look to mirror that class in 2010 and although it will be a difficult task to handle, it is not impossible, especially when you have the history LSU has made over recent years.
It was believed by many last season the quarterback position which was led by Jarrett Lee and Andrew Hatch early on, cost the Tigers several games. Heading into the 2009 season coach Les Miles and his staff are hoping Jordan Jefferson can pick up where he left off.
Although Jefferson showed flashes of stardom late in the season, newcomer Shepard is expected to get a few touches under center primarily in a “Wild Tiger” situation. Lee and true freshman gun-slinger Chris Garrett will likely round out the depth chart.
As the quarterback position looks deep on the depth chart, it is the one position many coaches believe can never be deep enough. Signing a quarterback in the Class of 2010 will not be a top priority, but Miles certainly would not mind landing a commitment from say a Nick Montana or Jake Heaps.
The running back situation is a different story. LSU signed Ford and fullback Dominique Allen last classl. However Keiland Williams and Charles Scott will be graduating after this season so the Tigers will be looking to load up with the guys that carry the rock.
The Tigers have already landed a verbal commitment from one running back in Troup County High School product Brandon Worle (6-1, 240, 4.6). Worle is a big back that takes pride in his blocking abilities as a fullback, but also possess the footwork to break loose for big gains.
The LSU staff is hoping Worle’s pledge is just the beginning of big-time pledges for the offensive backfield largely due to the fact they have signed just one true running back in the past three years. The Tigers have also extended early offers to elite prospects such as Lache Seastrunk, Storm Johnson, Michael Dyer and Austin White.
Of the four backs, LSU appears to be in the best shape with Johnson as he claims LSU to be his early favorite and hopes to have his decision made during the summer. Johnson helped lead his Buford High School (Ga.) team to a state title last season while rushing for 1,300 yards and 21 touchdowns.
The receiver position is very comparable to the quarterback position as it is rich and deep in talent. Even with this year’s departure of Demetrius Byrd and the soon-to-be departure of Brandon LaFell, the Tigers will still be sitting pretty at receiver. Players such as Chris Tolliver, Terrance Toliver, Jhyryn Taylor, Timothy Molton are all licking their chops at the opportunity to show the nation their ball-catching skills. And more than likely, in-coming freshman Rueben Randle will throw his name into the mix as well.
With that said, the Tigers would still like to add a couple of more to the 2010 class and they already have as Mike Davis (6-1, 180, 4.55) gave Miles his pledge in February. The Skyline (Texas) High School product is not afraid to catch passes underneath and has the speed to beat defenders on deep routes. As a junior, the four-star prospect hauled in 1,138 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns while earning All-State honors.
Another receiver high on the Tigers wish list is just down the road from Death Valley. Trovon Reed (6-0, 175, 4.5) is regarded by many as the best prospect in the state as well as one of the best in the nation. Last season, the Thibodaux High School product produced 1,784 yards of his team’s total offense including 21 touchdowns. He currently holds offers from just about everyone including LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Florida and Tennessee.
While the tight ends are not as flashy as the receivers, their role is just as vital when it comes to moving the chains. Last season, LSU failed to sign a tight end and with Richard Dickson’s career as a Tiger nearing its completion, the tight end position will be a key component to this year’s class.
The Tigers have already hit pay-dirt in this department as Nick Jacobs (6-5, 240, 4.8) offered his pledge earlier in the year. Jacobs did not catch many passes last season largely due to his team’s style of offense, but the three-star prospect does possess the speed to be a receiving option at the next level as well as a blocking force.
Aside from Jacobs, LSU is also currently heavily pursuing Christian Thomas, Brian Vogler, and Travis Dickson (Richard’s younger brother) although he may be best suited as a defensive end.
All of the positions mentioned above get the most praise and glamor, but if it were not for the hardworking hog-mollies upfront, the offense could not function. Brett Helms and Herman Johnson recently signed on in the NFL and after this season, Lyle Hitt and Ciron Black will follow suit which will leave the Tigers with unproven talent along the line.
Unproven at the collegiate level that is, as many of the players in the waiting were highly regarded prospects in high school. The 2008 class showcased Thomas Parsons, Greg Shaw, Clay Spencer, P.J. Lonergan, Matt Branch, Alex Hurst and last year the Tigers landed Stavion Lowe, Chris Faulk, Carneal Ainsworth, and Josh Wiliford.
It appears as if the offensive line will be in good shape, but being that the verdict is still out on most of those guys, coach Miles will likely add a few more. So far, so good as LSU landed a huge verbal pledge from Fort Scott Junior College standout Jamarcus Hardrick (6-7, 315).
Across the line, on the other side of the ball, the defensive line took just as big of a hit from the NFL and will likely send a few more studs to the league next season as well. Four defensive linemen left for the NFL in 2009 and next year Rahim Alem, Charles Alexander, and Al Woods will likely be playing on Sundays with them.
Much of the underclassmen on the defensive front will get their first taste of action at the collegiate level this season leaving the incoming freshmen time to grow. Members of the 2009 class enrolling this summer/fall include Chris Davenport, Mike Brockers, Joshua Downs, Sam Montgomery, Akiem Hicks and Bennie Logan.
At this time, the Class of 2010 is without a commitment from a defensive linemen, but that is likely to change by summer’s end. The Tigers are in good shape with Brandon Willis and Garrison Smith who are arguably the two best defensive tackles in the land as well as defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat, Zack McCray and in-state product Jordan Allen.
Allen resembles that of a Davenport from last season as he is one in-state prospect the Tigers do not want to lose. Last season, Allen tallied 60 tackles, nine sacks, seven forced fumbles, seven recovered fumbles, and a blocked punt which he returned for a score. Allen currently considers LSU as the team to beat, but he wants to explore all of his options before deciding.
The next level of the defensive unit is the line-backing corps and it is currently being led by Perry Riley and Jacob Cutrera. Last year, the Tigers landed a slew of talented linebackers, four in all, and one of which (Kevin Minter) has already enrolled.
The Class of 2010 is off to a good start in this department as Luke Muncie (6-2, 215, 4.5) and D.J Welter (6-1, 220, 4.5) have already picked LSU as their future home. Muncie, a three-star safety prospect, will be used as an outside linebacker for the Tigers. Last season, he recorded 80 tackles, four interceptions, and caused four fumbles.
Welter is a home-grown prospect as he reigns from Notre Dame High School in Crowley, Louisiana. As a junior, he racked up an amazing 128 tackles while leading his team to the state championship game.
Finally, the last line of defense is the secondary. Heading into this year, it may be the Tiger’s biggest concern as this unit was unable to stop passing offenses last season. Guys like Chad Jones, Jai Eugene, Patrick Peterson, and Ron Brooks have put in a lot of off-season work hoping to turn things around for the better this season.
They will immediately be aided by incoming Class of 2009, 5-Star safety prospect, Craig Loston (6-2, 193, 4.5). Loston was regarded as the best defensive back in the land at the prep level. Like Loston, another two top-flight safeties have already offered their commitment to the Class of 2010.
In-state safeties Tharold Simon (6-4, 180, 4.5) and Eric Reid (6-1, 202, 4.6) informed Miles they wanted to suit up in the purple and gold. Simon has the ability to play on either side of the ball, but will likely be used as a safety for the Tigers. Last season, as a receiver, the Eunice product hauled in 22 passes for 337 yards including five touchdowns. On defense, Simon racked up 75 tackles and five interceptions. Reid is also a hard-hitting safety. As a junior, he recorded 47 tackles and four interceptions.
At this point last season, LSU possessed 11 verbal commitments. However, by National Signing Day, a few of those players de-committed. As of now, the Tigers hold eight verbal pledges for the Class of 2010 and it is likely that number will reach double-digits by summer’s end.
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