Spring Recruiting Overview
Frank Wilson discusses familiar Louisiana feel to Class of 2012
By BEN LOVE
Tiger Rag Editor
The circle of life, at least as it pertains to college football, keeps on spinning.
Out the rotating door goes Patrick Peterson, LSU super-recruit of yesteryear (2008, to be exact), and in comes the next Tiger, like O. Perry Walker cornerback Dwayne Thomas, ready to fill Peterson’s shoes.
That’s the natural order of things at a football factory.
As a player: Commit to a school, sign a National Letter of Intent, show your stuff in the collegiate arena and, if you’re as fortunate (or talented) as PP7, walk across the stage for your official commissioner’s handshake. As a program: Facilitate all of the above and make sure to nab the next one in line each and every year.
And while this perpetual game of musical chairs never stops, rest assured if it ever did, LSU wouldn’t be left standing.
The 2012 crop of recruits is another strong one for Les Miles, Frank Wilson and the Tigers. It isn’t quite as deep as the loaded 2011 class, but Wilson, LSU’s recruiting coordinator, explained it’s quite similar to the sneaky-good 2010 group from a composition standpoint.
“It’s very comparable to the 2010 class,” said Wilson in a recent interview with Tiger Rag, “which had guys like Tharold Simon and Tyrann Mathieu - guys that are from Louisiana who we’ve identified as very good players with opportunities to do really good things for us here that may not necessarily be national recruits all across the board. But we’ve identified them, had them in camp, and we know very much so that they’re quality players and will contribute and will help us get better.”
Players like the aforementioned Thomas and outside linebacker Ronnie Feist of West Saint John, both three-star prospects, certainly qualify under Wilson’s description.
LSU has received nine commitments for ‘12, and only two - wide receiver Avery Johnson (the younger brother of Patrick Peterson) from Pompano Beach, Fla., and Woodlawn (Shreveport) defensive end/linebacker Torshiro Davis - received a four-star ranking from the major recruiting services.
Arguably the biggest reason LSU continues to have success with these lesser-heralded in-state players, according to Wilson, is because the “boys from the Boot” buy in. In that respect, Wilson thinks the tight-knit ‘12 class does resemble its direct predecessor.
Said Wilson: “The good thing about this class or the thing that’s comparable about 2012 to the ‘11 class is just like they (the 2011 class) were ‘The Fam,’ this group, they call themselves ‘brothers.’ They have a common goal, and that is just to want LSU.
“Like ‘11, these guys are young men who have established relationships over a duration of time, not just in camp but, more realistically, even from an elementary age or through their parents. They have all aspired and watched from the perimeter as LSU develops and have now taken it on as ‘It’s our turn.’”
While a number of Pelican state players are on-board already (eight of the nine commits hail from Louisiana), it’s not likely the Tigers will match the 16 in-state players who inked on National Signing Day ‘11 this past February.
“Sixteen is a high number,” Wilson continued. “2011 was very, very unique because it was just such a good year from top to bottom. I think this (2012) is a very quality year that has the same quality of players, but I don’t know about the quantity, if it has as many.”
From that perspective, Wilson and LSU will be forced to look out of state for several need areas, in particular for linemen on both sides of the ball.
However, the Tigers’ recruiting coordinator was quick to point out that Louisiana does have a bounty of linebackers in ‘12, a welcomed sight considering LSU signed only one ‘backer (OLB Trevon Randle from Texas) in the last class.
“Each class is different,” explained Wilson. “In this class, you’ll have several guys who are linebackers, who are defensive ends, who are hybrid linebackers/defensive ends. Well, in the last class, we didn’t have that in our state. We had to go out of state to get the type of ‘backer that we wanted. So in some cases it’s better, and in that particular position, it is better.”
Among the nine who’ve verbally committed, at least four fit the mold of player Wilson described. Feist and Breaux Bridge’s Lamar Louis are considered outside linebackers, while Trey Granier of Thibodaux is more of a middle ‘backer and Davis is in the hybrid mold who’s comfortable standing up and putting a hand on the ground.
To accompany the four front-seven defenders are two receivers (Johnson and Travin Dural, another Breaux Bridge product), two big tight ends (Dillon Gordon of John Curtis and Airline’s John Thomas, also a standout basketball player) and Dwayne Thomas at cornerback.
Some of the names might not jump out at you like a La’el Collins or Anthony Johnson did this time last year, but if these guys stay on that Mathieu/Simon under-the-radar path, the sky’s the limit.
“I think every class is good in its own right,” Wilson said frankly. “This class will be able to hold its own and make us proud. I truly believe that.”
Editor Ben Love covers LSU football and men’s basketball for Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.