With the talk of recruiting lately, even for the 2009 class, I think it's instructive to go back and look at Les Miles' earlier recruiting classes and grade them after the fact. Miles' first class was the small 2005 class with only 13 commits. Let's grade them out. Star ratings are by Rivals:
QB: Ryan Perrilloux - *****
Analysis: We all know Perrilloux has the talent to be a phenomenal quarterback. He sat behind Jamarcus Russell and then Matt Flynn waiting his turn, and no it's his time to shine. He has looked very good in limited roles thus far, and has excelled when he had to be the key guy because of injuries. The problem of course is his inability to stay with the team. If he plays, his gameplay will get an A-grade. If he doesn't, this is a washout of course.
OL: Ciron Black - ***, Kyle Anderson - ***, Lyle Hitt - ***
Analysis: Black is a two-year starter following his redshirt season, and may end up going pro early following his third year as full time starter. He's an All-SEC left tackle, and if he stays for his 5th year he will probably go down as LSU's most accomplished offensive lineman ever. Can't get much better than that. Lyle Hitt originally was a defensive tackle before being moved to offensive guard and was an important role player in last year's national championship run, primarily as a run blocker on the right side. Kyle Anderson washed out due to off-field issues, but a Ciron Black is enough to make up for that.
WR: Brandon Lafell - ***, R.J. Jackson - ****
Analysis: Jackson has not done much other than play special teams, which is a disappointment for a 4-star player. Lafell is threatening to emerge as our #1 receiver. If he does, this grade will go up a bit. Lafell redshirted his first year, then made a handful of catches in his second year while sitting behind Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis, and Early Doucet. When finally given his chance, he made a bunch of catches, but also had some costly drops. He seems to have gotten past the drops problem and looks to be a very solid wide receiver now.
RB: Trindon Holliday - ***, Steven Korte - ****, Antonio Robinson - ****
Analysis: We all know Trindon and his speed, but it's clear he is only a specialty back and a kickoff returner, though he is dangerous at both. Trindon's a weapon, but this class was only 1 for 3 on running backs, and that running back isn't capable of being an every down back. Korte and Robinson washed out at LSU and are now elsewhere.
DL: Ricky Jean-Francois - ****, Al Jones aka Rahim Alem - ****
Analysis: Rahim Alem has been an important reserve defensive end and role player in his time on the team, and figures to be so again before maybe taking over for Kirston Pittman next year. Jean-Francois looks like an All-American in the making, but his off-field problems that made him lose 12 games last year keeps this grade from being an A.
LB: Darry Backwith - ****
Analysis: Darry spent his first year excelling on special teams, then he took over the strong side linebacker position at the start of the 2006 season, moving inside at midseason, where he has been a stalwart when healthy. He returns for his senior season as the undisputed leader of the linebacker corp and one of the best linebackers in the conference. Not bad.
DB: Chris Hawkins - ****
Analysis: He was stuck behind quality starters for his first years in the program. Now, he enters his junior year with a legitimate shot to nail down a starter spot at corner. This grade will be determined by whether or not he does that and how much he excels at that position. One could say he's a mild disappointment for failing to win the nickel back position, or the dime back position, but let's not go that far.
Overall, we have 13 prospects, three of whom have washed out and several of whom have emerged as leaders and producers. Considering the unavoidably small size of the class, this is a pretty good effort.