Tiger Rag 2012 NSD Headquarters
Tigers sign 22, lose Davis to Texas
By BEN LOVE
Tiger Rag Editor
BATON ROUGE - It’s finally upon us. The first Wednesday in February is here, and that means it’s time for the annual National Signing Day.
TigerRag.com will take you through all the action on February 1, 2012, with complete coverage from every angle.
First, a few quick explanations.
This post is meant to serve as a one-stop shop for all things LSU recruiting with the Class of 2012 and will be frequently updated throughout the day. Much like our live game blogs, the latest information will be at the bottom of the post, so please bear that in mind when hitting the refresh button.
When the doors open to the 17th Annual Bayou Bash at the Baton Rouge River Center Wednesday morning, Tiger Rag will be on the scene with a booth near all the action. Jeff Palermo, my Tiger Rag Radio co-host, will join me for three hours of live streaming radio from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can CLICK HERE for access during that time or select the “Listen Live” option under the Tiger Rag Radio tab atop our home page. We’ll also have copies of the Bayou Bash/Recruiting Guide to serve as your road map for the proceedings, so if you’re gonna be in attendance, come stop by and pick one up.
Also, when the National Letters of Intent start flowing in around the 8-9 a.m. range, I’ll provide up-to-the-minute updates below, complete with player bios, photos and the positions each prospect projects at entering the collegiate level.
Finally, after Les Miles meets with the media at 4 p.m. on LSU’s campus, Tiger Rag Assistant Editor Richard Fischer will have a full report on what the Hat thinks of his latest recruiting haul.
Let’s get right into it.
Getting to know the Class of 2012
When talking about any LSU recruiting class ever, it’s important to analyze the in-state talent in Louisiana for that given year, especially considering the Bayou Bengals’ reliance on Boys from the Boot of late.
Let’s start with an unavoidable fact: The 2012 crop isn’t the monster that 2011’s was.
It’s not quite as star-studded at the top (La’el Collins, Anthony Johnson and Jarvis Landry were among the five best at their positions nationwide) and it lacks the overwhelming depth.
But it does have a heckuva lot of speed, something LSU desperately wanted to harness with its Class of 2012. And, considering this year’s wealth of front-seven defensive talent in Louisiana, it also helps fill the Tigers’ need at linebacker.
Now, before we dive into the specifics of which guys will be donning purple and gold, here’s the Tiger Rag take on the top-24 prospects from around the state. All 24 high school athletes listed have brief bios as well as projections on what positions they’ll play on the collegiate level.
To give a little compositional background on these 24 standouts, here’s the breakdowns of where these guys are headed to play their college ball and which positions they primarily play.
- 15 of the 24 are currently LSU commitments
- 2 of the 24 are Alabama commitments
- 2 of the 24 are Tennessee commitments
- 1 of the 24 is a TCU commitment
- 1 of the 24 is a Tulane commitment
- 3 of the 24 are currently undecided
- 16 of the 24 project as defensive players in college (8 are LBs, 3 DEs, 3 CBs and 2 play S)
- 8 of the 24 project as offensive players in college (3 are WRs, 2 TEs, 2 OTs and 1 RB)
The numbers bear it out: It’s been a defensive year in Louisiana prep football.
As always, though, the Tigers also searched out of state for talented individuals, nabbing, at the very minimum a quarterback, an offensive lineman, a wide receiver, a defensive end, a cornerback, a linebacker and a long snapper from outside state borders.
And, as Tuesday, Jan. 31 turns into Wednesday, Feb. 1, LSU is sitting on 23 total verbal commitments, combining the hauls from in-state and out.
Here’s that list of players:
|Vadal Alexander||OL||Buford, Ga.||6-6||310|
|Torshiro Davis||LB||Shreveport, La.||6-3||222|
|Travin Dural||WR||Breaux Bridge, La.||6-2||170|
|Derek Edinburgh||OL||New Orleans, La.||6-8||320|
|Ronnie Feist||DE||Edgard, La.||6-2||214|
|Reid Ferguson||SNP||Buford, Ga.||6-2||235|
|Dillon Gordon||TE||River Ridge, La.||6-5||245|
|Trey Granier||LB||Thibodeaux, La.||6-1||225|
|Jerald Hawkins||OL||Baldwin, La.||6-7||285|
|Jeremy Hill||RB||Baton Rouge, La.||6-1||225|
|Kavahra Holmes||WR||Breaux Bridge, La.||6-1||180|
|Danielle Hunter||DE||Katy, Tex.||6-5||235|
|Avery Johnson||WR||Pompano Beach, Fla.||6-2||180|
|Deion Jones||LB||New Orleans, La.||6-2||200|
|Jeremy Liggins||QB||Oxford, Miss.||6-4||260|
|Lamar Louis||LB||Breaux Bridge, La.||6-0||220|
|Jalen Mills||DB||DeSoto, Tex.||6-0||180|
|Lorenzo Phillips||OLB||Patterson, La.||6-2||205|
|Derrick Raymond||DB||Metairie, La.||6-2||175|
|Jerquinick Sandolph||DB||Boutte, La.||6-1||180|
|Dwayne Thomas||CB||New Orleans, La.||6-1||170|
|John Thomas||TE||Bossier City, La.||6-6||225|
|Corey Thompson||S||Missouri City, Tex.||6-2||210|
Every player on this list is expected to ink Wednesday, with the exception of Airline TE John Thomas, who must deal with lingering academic issues before getting on board with LSU officially later this spring semester.
So, bearing that in mind, LSU can either sign 24 players Wednesday and leave a spot for Thomas or the Tigers can go ahead and sign the full allotment — 25 — and Thomas could be a greyshirt candidate.
As for who comprises the best in show, here isTiger Rag’s pick for the offensive player of the class, who we caught up with for recent interviews.
The man responsible for bringing in much of this talent and keeping LSU’s big board in check is recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson, who just completed his second full season on the Tigers’ staff, where he also serves as running backs coach. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Wilson the week leading up to National Signing Day to get his thoughts on this class and how the LSU staff approached several key areas of need.
We also have a good number of audio interviews with the high school coaches of these LSU commitments as well as, in one instance, audio interviews with the players themselves. Check them out below.
Finally, here’s a brief glimpse at the few players who LSU covets that are most likely to round out the Tigers’ Class of 2012. Each will make his decision before lunchtime Wednesday.
CB/S Trae Elston 6-0/170 Oxford HS (Oxford, Ala.)
OLB Kwon Alexander 6-2/210 Oxford HS (Oxford, Ala.)
WR Cordarrelle Patterson 6-4/202 Hutchinson Community College (Hutchinson, Kan.)
The Signees List (UPDATED COUNT: 22)
All day Wednesday, I’ll be updating this section live from the Bayou Bash. Consider it like NFL Draft day — with names constantly coming off the board and subsequent analysis coming right as it happens.
Before the day even dawns, LSU can count five players in for sure, all of whom are early enrollees. That list includes OG Vadal Alexander, OLB Ronnie Feist, LS Reid Ferguson, RB Jeremy Hill and OLB Lamar Louis. All can participate in team drills this spring, including the spring game.
Editor’s Note: Heights, weights and 40-yard dash times below compiled from Scout.com.
With offensive guard/center T-Bob Hebert set to graduate, LSU continues its pipeline to Georgia linemen with Vadal Alexander. With a massive frame, one would think Alexander would slide comfortably into a guard position once he takes the field in Baton Rouge. But the high school offensive tackle, who has family connections to the state of Louisiana, actually has enough foot speed and natural athleticism to stay on the outside if need be. Expect LSU Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach Greg Studrawa to cross-train Alexander at both, with guard being his preferred, more natural position on the line. Alexander, a high school teammate of fellow Tiger signee Reid Ferguson, a long snapper, chose to sign with LSU over written offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, USC and Texas, among others.
LSU Defensive Coordinator John Chavis loves to develop linebackers — that much we do know. One of his newest projects should be a lot of fun to watch. Far-ranging Ronnie Feist was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player in all of Class 1A in Louisiana as a senior after recording 65 tackles, including 44 for tackles for loss. Feist, playing for Coach Robert Valdez, has shown an ability to make big plays in big games throughout his career, leading West St. John to the Dome this season. He was selected to play in the Under Armour All-America Game in Jan. 2012, where he participated alongside fellow LSU verbal commitment Avery Johnson and Alabama commitment/Louisiana prospect Landon Collins. Feist is one of at least seven linebackers expected to sign in this LSU recruiting Class of 2012. (Photo courtesy of Ronnie Feist)
With long snapper Joey Crappell set to test his luck in the NFL, the Tigers looked to Georgia to find their next special teams specialist. Ferguson lands at LSU after a solid high school career as an offensive guard at Buford High School. Although Ferguson, who was mentored by renowned deep-snapping coach Chris Rubio, pictured at right, will likely never play on the line with the Tigers, he will instead be the team’s long snapper — a position that can cost a team a game if not secured.
LSU’s already deep halfback pool gets a little bit deeper with Jeremy Hill, who was a force throughout his high school days at Redemptorist, a career which ended after the 2010 campaign. During that senior season in 2010, the physical, bruising halfback rushed 305 times for 2,260 yards and 36 touchdowns for the Wolves, where he played for former head coach Guy Mistretta alongside current LSU Tiger offensive lineman La’el Collins. The Baton Rouge native’s recruitment has been a bit tumultuous due to legal issues stemming from an oral sexual battery charge in late 2010, which has now been reduced to a misdemeanor charge, meaning Hill’s problems that barred him from signing with LSU are now in the rearview. He is currently early-enrolled, available to participate in spring drills and ready to be a Tiger. (Photo courtesy of Redemptorist High School)
With the Tigers having secured Breaux Bridge’s offensive weapons, Les Miles and Co. also looked to the team’s defense in this Class of 2012. While there, they found Lamar Louis — one of the best outside linebackers (or athletes for that matter) in the country. Possessing a 4.50 time in the 40-yard dash, but also a 220-pound frame, Louis is able to fly to the football with ease. He has been told to prepare for early playing time because of LSU’s departures at linebacker, which includes the graduation of seniors Karnell Hatcher, Stefoin Francois and Ryan Baker at the position. Louis was a member of the 2012 Tiger Rag Dirty Dozen, alongside teammate Travin Dural, who is expected to sign with the Tigers later today. (Photo courtesy of Ted Uhall)
LSU’s already deep group of defensive backs gets even better with Mills, who will come to Baton Rouge by way of Texas, where he was a high school teammate of current LSU Tiger offensive lineman Evan Washington at DeSoto High School. The steady defensive back is one of the fastest players in the Tigers’ class, having boasted a 4.50 time in the 40-yard dash. Mills should be ready to compete in pressure situations early in his career as DeSoto High School is among the top prep football programs in America, annually turning out players to major Division-I programs. (Photo courtesy of DeSoto High School)
Liggins became an LSU commitment just two days ago on Jan. 30, 2012. He projects to be the only quarterback signed in this class for the Tigers (after Indiana signal caller Gunner Kiel, an LSU commitment briefly during the latter part of December and the early part of January, reneged and enrolled at Notre Dame), although several other programs recruited the big dual-threat quarterback at tight end and even on defense. He chose LSU over written offers from in-state schools Ole Miss and Mississippi State, among other schools. Liggins will give LSU its second dual-threat style quarterback, joining Jerrard Randall, a signee from last year’s Class of 2011. The only other quarterbacks currently on LSU’s roster are junior-to-be Zach Metteberger and Stephen Rivers, a rising redshirt freshman.
After missing out on Thibodaux High School standouts for two straight seasons (Trovon Reed and Greg Robinson, both Auburn Tigers now), LSU hit a south-Louisiana home run with Trey Granier. The 225-pound standout possesses top-flight ball-hawking skills, having recorded more than 100 tackles in both his sophomore and junior seasons. He was well on his way to a third-straight this year, but an MCL injury sidelined him after just four games. Both his dad and uncles played college football. (Photo courtesy of Joey Michel Photography)
Most dominant high school players have massive senior seasons. Deion Jones did just that and probably a little more, too, while playing for Jesuit High School in New Orleans. This quick, but physical linebacker recorded a whopping 179 tackles in just 12 games for the Blue Jays in 2011 — good enough to be a unanimous All-State selection. Jones was initially a Nebraska commitment, but opted to stay in-state, saying LSU’s close proximity to his native New Orleans won his commitment over from a previous verbal pledge to Bo Pelini. (Photo courtesy of Jesuit High School)
Corey Thompson joined Jeremy Liggins as the latest verbal pledges in LSU’s Class of 2012 when he gave his commitment on Jan. 30. The hybrid back-seven player, who most likely projects as a safety in Ron Cooper’s defensive backfield, chose the Tigers over the Texas A&M Aggies, where Thompson was at one point in time a verbal commitment and seriously considering. Someone squarely in the Eric Reid mold of safety, Thompson is expected to be the first of two safeties who ink with LSU today — with Hahnville High School’s Jerqwinick Sandolph being the other (a potential third, Trae Elson, decided to sign with Ole Miss). Thompson, a four-star prospect by Scout.com, is rated the No. 15 outside linebacker in the country by that same recruiting service.
It’s difficult for a lock-down high school cornerback to post statistics because opposing coaches instruct their quarterbacks to avoid the standout’s side of the field. Even while being avoided, Derrick Raymond was able to make his mark on every game he played. The Metairie cornerback posted 39 tackles, 15 pass break-ups, three picks and three forced fumbles in 2011. He also blocked three extra points for East Jefferson. Raymond is a player who, due to several transfers, only really played one year of high school football, but sometimes, you just can’t teach speed. This is one of those cases. Raymond’s a special athlete. (Photo courtesy of BBI)
It’s easy to look at the statistics and label John Curtis Christian Academy tight end Dillon Gordon as a blocker. But as he’s quick to point out, stats sometimes don’t always paint an accurate picture. Yes, Gordon only caught a handful of passes in his career with the Patriots. But the prospect played in an offense heavily geared toward the running game — and successfully at that considering Gordon was a part of two state championship teams. Despite a lack of opportunity, scouts say Gordon has elite hands and can be a vertical threat. (Photo courtesy of John Curtis Christian Academy)
Jerald Hawkins lands at LSU after being a dominant both-ways player at West St. Mary High School in Baldwin, where he served as an offensive tackle and defensive tackle, earning First-Team All-District honors at both positions. But Hawkins’ LSU future will be strictly along the offensive line at tackle, where he figures to be an elite-level pass blocker for position coach Greg Studrawa because of his quick feet and under-the-radar athleticism. Hawkins chose to stay close to home, choosing LSU over a number of written offers from major Division-I programs, most notably Texas A&M and Arizona State. He joins former Tiger Harry Coleman on the list of West St. Mary players to make the trek to Baton Rouge. (Photo courtesy of Leah Romero/The Daily Review)
With Defensive Coordinator John Chavis’ affinity for developing speedy defensive ends, Danielle Hunter decided to take his talents to Tiger Stadium in an attempt to be the next in line, following in the footsteps of Sam Montgomery, KeKe Mingo, Justin Maclin and Jermauria Rasco. A lanky 220-pound defensive end, Hunter recorded 63 tackles and seven sacks as a junior at Morton Ranch High School in Katy, Tex.. The standout has said on the record he believes he can easily add 40-50 pounds to his 6-foot-4 frame at the collegiate level without losing any of his nimble athleticism. Hunter, the second of two Texas players to sign with LSU on National Signing Day, joining DeSoto High School cornerback Jalen Mills, chose LSU over Oklahoma and Missouri.
Thomas didn’t have a very good statistical season as a senior at O. Perry Walker High School, but that’s a good thing when you’re a defensive back. With opponents shading the football away from the dominant defensive back, Thomas reaffirmed his position as one of the elite players in Louisiana. Thomas, who is also a handful returning punts and kickoffs, still managed to record three interceptions and led O. Perry Walker to the state playoffs in 2011. Frank Wilson was Thomas’ lead recruiter from the Tigers’ side of things, and the cornerback chose LSU over offers from Pitt, Arizona and Nebraska, among others. Thomas becomes the second player in succession to join LSU recruiting classes after former (and soon-to-be future) teammate Anthony Johnson, a defensive tackle expected to start this coming Fall, inked with the Tigers in the Class of 2011. (Photo courtesy of Dwayne Thomas)
UPDATE (9:30 a.m.): With Cordarrelle Patterson inking with Tennessee very early this morning, LSU is really down to just Kwon Alexander and Trae Elston at this point. The two teammates from Oxford, Ala., are expected to make their annoucements at 10:30 a.m.
UDPATE (9:50 a.m.): Lot of speculation swirling around that Torshiro Davis might be signing with Texas. All indications we have at Tiger Rag is that it’s still LSU’s game to lose there. The player will announce up in Shreveport at 10:30 a.m.
UPDATE (10:15 a.m.): Alexander, pulling out some snazzy purple-and-gold suspenders, chose LSU while Elston, his teammate, opted to go to Ole Miss.
The first big “get” of National Signing Day for LSU, Alexander made his intentions known at his high school in Alabama while high school teammate Trae Elston opted for Ole Miss. Alexander will be the seventh linebacker in this LSU Class of 2012. He’s one of the most highly sought after players in the country, ranked the third-best outside linebacker in America by Scout.com, who also has Alexander down as a four-star recruit. Alexander, who tore his ACL early in his senior season, would’ve been an even bigger name in this Class of 2012 if not for that setback. He chose to sign with LSU despite a slew of written offers from big-time programs, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Oklahoma and Oregon, to name a few.
Once a Texas A&M and Florida commitment, the Tigers ultimately kept this St. Mary Parish standout in-state. Because of his size and quickness, Phillips figures to be a hybrid, pass-rushing linebacker at the next level. A two-time All-State selection, Phillips recorded 52 tackles, 22 stops for a loss, 12 sacks and four forced fumbles for the Lumberjacks this season. He chose LSU amidst offers from Alabama, Florida, Houston and Nebraska, among others. Phillips becomes the second player in as many years to ink with LSU from (Photo courtesy of Casey Gisclair/Tri-Parish Times)
One of two Breaux Bridge wide receiver commitment to the LSU Tigers, Dural is probably the more polished of the duo. Exhibiting an array of both route-running skills and big-play ability, Dural served as the focal point of one of the best offenses in the state of Louisiana this past season. Dural, who has a chance to fit into the shoes recently vacated by the NFL-bound Rueben Randle, is also a threat on special teams, having returned six punts or kickoffs for touchdowns as a junior and a handful more this past season. He’s one of three total Breaux Bridge player headed to LSU in this class after the Tigers got defensive tackle Quintin Thomas from the school a year ago. (Photo courtesy of Ted Uhall)
Holmes was the icing on the cake of what was a Breaux Bridge trifecta for LSU in the 2012 class. The lesser known of the three teammates, Holmes, an absolute speedster and the fastest player in the current LSU recruiting class, impresses the Tigers because of his potential. Still relatively new to the football scene, Holmes can overcome a lot of the learning curve thanks to his unbelievable speed. The prospect is one of the fastest prep athletes in all of Louisiana and the nation. He fits into the Bennie Brazell mold of long-term prospects as wide receivers go. (Photo courtesy of Kavahra Holmes)
Several years after LaRon Landry graced the LSU campus with his presence, the Tigers have landed another Hahnville defensive back. Much like Landry, Sandolph makes his mark on the field with physicality, often using his size to bump receivers off the line of scrimmage. Once they are able to get off the jam coverage, Sandolph has a reputation for being one of the hardest hitters in Louisiana. He follows in the footsteps of former Hahnville star Alfred Blue, who joined the Tigers’ football program himself in the Class of 2010. Sandolph first committed to LSU on May 28, 2011. (Photo courtesy of St. Charles Herald Guide)
UPDATE (11:15 a.m.): In the shock of the day, Torshiro Davis flipped to Texas. Absolute stunner! The kid originally committed to Les Miles and LSU on Feb. 3, 2011 — in other words, National Signing Day a year ago. Take Shiro off the board, and now the Tigers will bring six, not seven, linebackers in with this signing class.
Everything about LSU commitment Derek Edinburgh is big. Massive, in fact. Take your pick — the 6-7 frame, the 320-pound body, the size 20 shoes — whatever is your fancy. But what the Tigers like most about Edinburgh is that his game matches his lofty figure. Edinburgh has established himself as one of the top offensive tackles in the country despite the fact he only began to concentrate solely on football prior to his junior year at Edna Karr High School in New Orleans. Prior to that, the nimble big fella was a presence in the post on the basketball court. He chose LSU over a slew of offers that include Arkansas, Mississippi State, Baylor and Colorado. Edinburgh, a member of Tiger Rag’s Dirty Dozen, is rated a four-star prospect and the No. 29 offensive tackle in the country by Scout.com. (Photo courtesy of Derek Ponamsky/BBI)
Avery Johnson lands in Baton Rouge with famous Louisiana ties. No, he isn’t the son of the New Orleans-born NBA coach boasting the same name. Johnson is instead the younger brother of former Tiger great and current Arizona Cardinals star Patrick Peterson. Much like older brother, Johnson possesses unbelievable big-play ability and ball skills. Johnson lands in TigerTown after a very competitive recruiting process. He should compete for early playing time because of his explosive ability. (Photo courtesy of Fox Sports)
Editor Ben Love covers LSU football and men’s basketball for Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.