LSU Tigers' National Signing Day 2014: Position-by-Position Analysis
The LSU Tigers left no need unattended by signing a remarkable 2014 class.
From wide receiver to defensive tackle to running back, Les Miles and Frank Wilson went above and beyond the call to fill question marks with 5-star and 4-star recruits.
Just saying it doesn't do it justice, though. This class deserves a position-by-position analysis to praise the job that LSU's coaching staff did in filling needs that were vital for instant success.
So with that said, feast your eyes on and fantasize about the 2014 depth chart, which is sure to have these players serving major and minor roles with the team.
Note: Star rankings courtesy of 247Sports.
Signee: 4-star Brandon Harris (Parkway High School, Bossier City, La.)One could argue quarterback was not a dire need for this year's class, even with Zach Mettenberger graduating.
As he showed by leading a 99-yard drive to beat Arkansas, Anthony Jennings has potential to be a breakout star for the Tigers. Although he had an underwhelming performance against Iowa last month, the future is still bright for the quarterback, who is entering his second season under Cam Cameron.
You better believe the pressure will be on, though. Brandon Harris, the third best dual-threat quarterback in 247 Sports' player rankings, will supply it. To speak in terms of his dual-threat label, I'll let his numbers do the talking—3,518 passing yards, 37 passing touchdowns, 1,153 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns.
Yeah, that's Johnny Football-like.
With the speed needed to make plays with his feet, Harris can beat opponents with his arm and his legs, but don't go thinking he looks to run before he passes.
Harris has true comfort in the pocket. While the ball jumps off his arm at a high velocity, he has trouble with fundamental consistency. Look for Cameron to elevate his game and help the early enrollee compete for a starting job this fall.
Undoubtedly, this is LSU's best running back class in school history. That's right, we're not pulling any punches here.
The main reason for that statement is none other than the No. 1 prospect in the nation and arguably the best prospect to ever emerge out of Louisiana: Leonard Fournette.
I don't have to go into too much detail about this raved-about prospect. Heck, Scott Kennedy, director of scouting for recruiting service at Scout.com, said, per The New Orleans Advocate, that Fournette is the greatest running back to come out of high school since Adrian Peterson.
And as if his addition weren't good enough, the Tigers added another prime running back in Darrel Williams. He is a stocky, compact back who can plow through defenders running downhill.
Without Jeremy Hill in 2014, the Tigers needed to replace a superstar with another game-changing player. LSU did that and more with these two.
Signees: 5-star Malachi Dupre (John Curtis High School, New Orleans, La.), 4-star Trey Quinn (Barbe High School, Shreveport, La.), 4-star Tony Upchurch (Dawson High School, Pearland, Texas) 3-star D.J. Chark (Alexandria High School, Alexandria, La.)
Malachi Dupre received the biggest pop of the day from LSU's war room on national signing day. Around the state of Louisiana, fans' reactions were much the same.
LSU needed him to try and fill the gaping hole that Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. left behind.
Replacing two receivers who produced 1,000-yard seasons in 2013 will be easier said than done, but Dupre won't have to do it alone.
While he has plenty of developing to do (result of playing in an offense that won't abandon the veer-playing style), his leaping ability, size and underrated acceleration will help him see the field.
Meanwhile, recruits like Trey Quinn and Tony Upchurch will push Travin Dural, Avery Peterson and John Diarse to either become playmakers or move out of their way.
Signee: 4-star Jacory Washington (Westlake High School, Westlake, La.)
The Tigers will have the deepest tight end unit in recent memory come this fall.
With Travis Dickson, Dillon Gordon, DeSean Smith (who just might break out this year) and now Jacory Washington, look for Cam Cameron to mix in tight end sets.
Dickson and Gordon are capable of contributing to the passing game, while Smith and Washington have the ability to break the offense wide open.
Like Smith, Washington is basically a big wide receiver. He has a 6'5", 230-pound frame to go along with solid hands.
With his size and reach, he'll be a red-zone target for the Tigers sooner rather than later.
Last year's signing class was one of the best offensive lineman classes that Les Miles has put together at LSU, so the need to recruit offensive linemen wasn't dire.
Still, the Tigers are losing Trai Turner at offensive guard, and Miles brought in two guards who could potentially challenge for early playing time.
It's doubtful either player will see the field initially because of the depth on the offensive line, but that's not to say both won't drive competition on the field this fall.
Brumfield can set quickly and anchor bull rushes on the line in pass protection. He's also strong in his initial drive, firing off the ball and bringing his hands quickly to open holes for the running game.
Clapp, on the other hand, has more developing to do, but he's tough to beat once he locks onto his target. He will benefit from a redshirt next season, learning from one of the best teachers on the offensive line, Les Miles.
The Tigers signing class offered little surprise, and if you wanted to classify anything as such, it would probably be the gathering of these three defensive ends.
Davon Godchaux flirted with other schools toward the end of his recruitment, Deondre Clark and LSU had issues with his letter of intent—The Advocate reports LSU will announce signing on Monday—and Sione Teuhema was a last-minute grab after he decommitted from Texas one day before signing day.
And while defensive end is far from a need (Jordan Allen, Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter return with experience from last season), the Tigers will accept each individual with open arms.
Godchaux could move to a defensive tackle spot based off his 6'4", 274-pound size and strong run defense. That's not to say he's incapable of firing off the ball and getting past blockers in a pass rush also.
Clark better suits the defensive end bill; he totaled 18 sacks last season and 22 the season prior. Teuhema possesses a good motor and initial burst that generates a nice pass rush.
Some could argue LSU needed Travonte Valentine to have a successful recruiting class. Heck, I argued that last week in this column.
Why? Because the Tigers were beat up often in the trenches last season, and without Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson in starter roles, LSU is thin at the position.
Sure, backups Christian LaCouture and Quentin Thomas have experience, but are they game-changing defensive tackles?
The Tigers needed some huge pickups, and with Trey Lealaimatafao's 300-pound self, the Tigers acquired that in every sense of the world. Trey L, as Les Miles calls him, per Shea Dixon of 247Sports, is explosive off the ball and can disrupt with penetration.
Valentine, who recorded 31.5 tackles for loss in his senior year, is going to challenge instantly to be a starter.
A crowded linebacker corps just became less spacious, and that's far from a bad thing.
With Kwon Alexander, D.J. Welter, Kendell Beckwith, Lamar Louis, Deion Jones and Duke Riley all lobbying for playing time next season, you could argue that LSU didn't need any major pickups.
That's only if you're content with the inconsistent production of last season's linebacker corps. On and off, this unit played well one game and bad the next. Add in Lamin Barrow's departure, and that argument could become invalid.
No argument needed, though. The Tigers picked up a prime out-of-state linebacker in Clifton Garrett, who totaled 139 tackles as a senior in high school.
He's not a versatile linebacker yet, as he needs to improve his coverage ability. Still, his presence should rattle any projected starting lineups.
Signee: 3-star Russell Gage (Redemptorist High School, Baton Rouge, La.)
You can easily sense that cornerback was among the least targeted positions by the coaching staff for this class.
That's far from a shock too, because the Tigers have two of the best young starting corners already in Tre'Davious White and Rashard Robinson.
Still, it's always nice to add at least one player to a position (assuming LSU doesn't switch any safeties over to cornerback).
The Tigers added a good one in Russell Gage.
It's unknown where the athlete-listed Gage will play on the field at this point, but with the way this class has formed, cornerback is a solid bet.
Signees: 5-star Jamal Adams (Hebron High School, Carrollton, Texas), 4-star Edward Paris (Mansfield Timberview High School, Arlington, Texas), 4-star Devin Voorhies (Wilkinson County High School, Woodville, Miss.), 3-star John Battle (Hallandale High School, Hallandale, Fla.)
Two words—trigger happy.
You want to know why LSU didn't pursue Laurence "Hootie" Jones when he decommitted from Alabama? The Tigers had their eyes on Jamal Adams, Edward Paris and Devin Voorhies already. Yeah that's a 5-star and two 4-stars added to one position.
This safety position suffices as a need with Craig Loston graduating, and the Tigers are filling that need with four players who had a combined eight interceptions last season in high school.
Adams and Paris highlight the safety class, though. Adams earned his 5-star grade by being an intelligent safety who can tackle and cover, while Paris turned heads with his natural playmaking ability on the ball.
Fear not, LSU fans: DBU is alive and well within this class.
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