Q&A with Lee Brecheen
Talking recruits with the publisher of Louisiana Football Magazine
Huntington High WR Jarrett Fobbs, at left, is high on Brecheen’s list of in-state athletes.
In preparation for Signing Day, Tiger Rag’s Ben Love caught up with Lee Brecheen for a Q&A session to talk LSU recruits and put the Class of 2010 in perspective. Brecheen is the owner and publisher of Louisiana Football Magazine, which has given in-depth coverage of the state’s top players and coaches since 1996. Visit the LFM Web site at www.lafootballmagazine.com daily for news and notes on high school football in Louisiana. To reach Lee Brecheen, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Love: In your opinion, what kind of job is Les Miles doing of keeping alive the whole ‘Fence around Louisiana’ concept of recruiting that started with Nick Saban?
Lee Brecheen: I think they’ve done a great job with skill players. Over the years, LSU’s had the Early Doucets come out, the Devery Hendersons and Kevin Faulks and Dalton Hilliards - skill guys who can come in and play right away. You will always have those types of athletes come out.
This year it’s Jarrett Fobbs, who, to me, is better than Trovon Reed … I think Fobbs is more like a Percy Harvin. And then James Wright was, to me, all along the best wide-out in the state. So you’re getting more great skill guys, but the big concern is they’re not getting players like [the late] Marquise Hill and Marcus Spears-type linemen anymore in-state. Louisiana doesn’t have a Marquise Hill coming out this year or even a Kyle Williams-type. And if you’re not getting them in-state, you have to get them out-of-state. I just feel like they’re falling short on the big-time D-tackles out-of-state, even D-ends.
To answer your question, the fence is up skill-wise, but I think they’ve got to do more research on linemen and find those Dexter Blackmons in Louisiana. Now, Dexter was a good pick-up in Alabama, his daddy played for Southern University, but there are some guys all along [from Louisiana] who are going to be big-time D-tackles in college like Ivan Robinson in South Beauregard and Gavin Stansbury from Franklin, who are going to Texas A&M, and Brandon Jackson from Evangel Christian. So they’re just going to have to do a little more homework on the D-Line and the guys coming out.
BL: You could say historically that LSU’s recruiting class depends on the level of talent in-state. Is that the case this year?
LB: Usually you’re only as good as what’s in your state. But you have to pull in a Ben Wilkerson every now and then or a Melvin Oliver - the type of guy who can come in and play right away. You gotta steal one. You gotta go to Florida and steal one, and I just don’t see that happening right now.
BL: Well, that leads me directly into another question. From the kids who you’ve talked to, especially the skill position players on offense, is this perceived ’seniority’ thing taking its toll on recruits?
LB: No, I don’t think that’s hurt recruiting at all. You know, everybody in the SEC’s got great skill players. Vanderbilt’s got great skill players. Mississippi State had Anthony Dixon and Christian Ducre, two of the best senior running backs in the SEC. Mark Ingram came out of Michigan to go to Alabama, and the freshman [Trent] Richardon is out of Pensacola.
But LSU’s got a ton of running backs coming up with Michael Ford and even Drayton Calhoun, who redshirted out of Georgia. They’ve got a lot of talent. It’s just that everyone wants to play right away. In Russell Shepard’s case, you tell a kid you’re going to play him, so you play him, but basically he’s not ready to dominate. Look at Joe McKnight at USC, I think he was overbilled too fast, so he might have been better off waiting [to get playing time].
BL: Building off that point, has the LSU name brand taken a hit at all?
LB: No. I’ve talked to a lot of Louisiana kids, and I think LSU needs to get back to recruiting more of Louisiana. I think the only thing you need to sign out-of-state are O and D-linemen if you can’t find them in-state, maybe a big tight end and a quarterback.
But I think Louisiana has plenty of running backs, receivers, skill guys who can basically do punt returns and kick returns. There’s a lot of sleeper Trindon Hollidays in Louisiana. Now, I really believe they missed on the kid from Capitol, Frankie Jackson, but again look at all the running backs they have coming in for 2011. They have three of the best running backs in the country committed - Terrance Magee, Kenny Hilliard and Jeremy Hill.
BL: What kind of players and talents are the Tigers getting with this current class of 2010?
LB: Skill guys. They’ve done a phenomenal job recruiting skill players. Even though Trovon Reed’s probably going to Auburn, I don’t think that hurts them at all. I think from an image standpoint, you don’t wanna lose a kid from Thibodaux, which is an LSU community. But I think basically, when you look back, if LSU can get Jarrett Fobbs, they’re gonna say ‘Well, we got the better player’ and the biggest impact player as far as offense goes. I think Jarrett Fobbs is better than Skyler Green.
So, again, the need is landing a dominant D-tackle or D-end to come in and help.
BL: What are your thoughts about the recruiting process in general, how it’s employed in the Southeast, and is there too much negative recruiting going on?
LB: I think these camps are either helping players or ruining players. If a kid goes to a camp or combine in helmet and shorts, and runs a great time, it’s gonna help him. If he has a bad time, it’s gonna kill him. If a running back runs a 4.8 at a camp and he’s really a 4.6 [guy], that’s gonna get printed.
I’m all about the college camps where they teach you how to play the positions and look at your footwork. I’m old school; I think what Nick Saban does and Pete Carroll and Bob Stoops [do] is they look at how you do in pads. They judge you as football players. Then, if you can run, that’s important, too. [At times] the system’s not working on guys who are good football players.
BL: Last question, what grade do you give this class?
LB: I give it a ‘B.’ I don’t think a class deserves an ‘A’ unless you’re getting dominant linemen and numbers on both sides of the ball.