Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Today is the Day

To many college football fans, National Signing Day is like a wedding or a baptism. It's a celebration of all things football. There are no losers as everyone is usually quite satisfied with their recruiting classes.

For many LSU fans, this National Signing Day seems to feel like a funeral. Yes, we lost out on some high profile recruits down the stretch. According to various reports, we may lose out on more of the high profile guys discussed yesterday.

I think there's no getting around that LSU is finishing recruiting a little weaker than we hoped, primarily because we lost DeAndre Brown. It's unfortunate that this one loss has colored the signing class, because it is widely believed that Brown could not have qualified, and that he was likely heading to JUCO or to prep school anyway. And if he ends up at one of those places, we can try to recruit him again.

That loss has weighed on the psyche of LSU recruiting watchers, and the loss has been exacerbated by the other losses, such as Arthur Brown, Terrelle Pryor, Antoine McClain, and others.

But we are being too pessimistic. This recruiting season has had many accomplishments. First and foremost, the coaching staff will be signing every Louisiana prospect it wants, and ultimately it appears few if any seriously considered going anywhere else. This is a very positive sign for the program, and bodes well for coming years that will likely have a much more highly regarded class of Louisiana kids. Like next year, for example.

The second positive accomplishment of this recruiting season is the continued positive recruiting of the offensive line. OK, we won't be signing a lot of high profile offensive linemen, but we have linemen with a lot of potential, such as Thomas Parsons. And for the most part, we locked up the offensive line recruits early.

We also adjusted our recruiting for the emerging reality of spread offenses, which means not only that we must have more wide receivers, but also more defensive backs. The defensive back recruiting in this class is the best at LSU since.. well, since last year, which was also spectacular. Patrick Johnson is the most highly-regarded cornerback signing probably in the history of the LSU football program. Brandon Taylor, Karnell Hatcher, and Derrick Bryant all have substantial potential to be key players in a year or two. Rockey Duplessis and Ryan St. Julien round out the defensive back class, and each one of these guys has a small community of commentators who assure us they are good athletes who will contribute more than is generally believed.

The wide receiver class misses DeAndre Brown, but is not lacking in star power. DeAngelo Benton will be part of this class, and he looks like an immediate contributor. Chris Tolliver could have gone to any program in the country. Tim Molten is reportedly believed by the coaches to be the most underrated wide receiver recruit in the country, and it is undeniable that they offered him immediately when they got a chance to see him in person at camp. DeAngelo Peterson is kind of a forgotten man, but he is a 4-star who was wanted by several other regional programs, but may end up at another position. Jhyryn Taylor (brother of Brandon and Curtis) is another solid athlete from a solid LSU family.

If this class has deficiencies, I think you can look at the defensive tackle position and the linebacker position. Don't get me wrong, I really like the guys we got at linebacker. Ryan Baker looks like a clone of Georgia linebacker Rene Curran to me, and his stock went WAY up after he committed to us and people started paying attention to him. Kellen Theriot looks like a phenomenal athlete and competitor, but one who may need a couple years to really learn the position, as he was a quarterback in high school. Kyle Prater looks like a solid player, though perhaps without the "wow factor" the other two bring. I would have just liked to have one additional good linebacker prospect coming in, as it is a position that lacks depth with the losses of Highsmith and Sanders.

At defensive tackle, we only have Cordian Hagans who was never a high profile guy and who may end up at offensive line, and Lavar Edwards who is a feast-or-famine project who may be a defensive end anyway. Chancey Agayhere is mislabeled as a defensive tackle. He is probably going to be a defensive end, and a move to linebacker is at least as likely as a move to tackle, because he is undersized for an end, much less for a tackle. He should be a excellent player, and he's one of the crown jewels of this class, but he's not a defensive tackle.

It looks like we may not get any running backs, but I'm OK with that. Louisiana has a stellar crop of running backs coming available next year, including Michael Ford and Eddie Lacy, who can go wherever they want (though some off-field issues are rumored to be affecting Lacy). There are also several running backs in the 2009 class from Texas who are reportedly interested in LSU. With our current depth at running back, and the addition of Stevan Ridley who is coming off a redshirt year, our running back depth is fine for 2008 and the prospects are strong thereafter. A running back is not necessary in this class.

More on this tomorrow, when we see if anything actually changes.

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