National Signing Day: Les Miles Makes Big Statement With LSU Recruiting Class

Henry BallSenior Analyst IFebruary 3, 2010

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 03: Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers celebrates after their 20-13 win over the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on October 3, 2009 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As National Signing Day approached some Tiger fans were looking for something to hold on to.  After the fabled ‘Ole Miss Debacle’, LSU fans have been divided into two ardent and increasingly angry camps.

One camp angrily says LSU has driven the wheels off of the Porsche Nick Saban left behind and the "lucky" magic has all been pulled out of the mythical mad hat.

The other camp—upset with all the negativity—says LSU will be just fine.  The problems that tanked the 2008 and lingered through the 2009 season have been corrected and bigger, brighter days lie ahead.

As out of state recruits Justin Hunter, Mike Davis, and Cassius Marsh decommitted from LSU and decided to play their college football closer to home, the anti-Miles crowd kicked into full meltdown mode flooding websites like and Bengal Insider with warnings of doom.

Proof positive, said many, that national recruits no longer had faith in Les Miles and now LSU would be unable to compete for other top replacements.

When rumors surfaced that J.C. ‘Ego’ Ferguson and J.C. Copeland were considering making the switch to LSU it was thought to be a joke.

None of the major recruiting services projected either of these players or Jarrett Fobbs—the four-star wide receiver who was committed to Texas A&M—to sign with LSU.

Yet, on National Signing Day, even as ESPN’s Todd McShay was criticizing LSU and Les Miles for falling off in talent—a story segment that was obviously planned prior to Wednesday and not adjusted to cover the actual ‘news’ of the day—these three players along with Kadron Boone, who was expected to sign with the Tigers, surprised the college football world and helped elevate this forgotten and underrated class as high as top five according to some recruiting services.

It undoubtedly has to be considered a big win for Les Miles and his staff.  Despite a down year for Louisiana talent—only one ‘elite’ five star recruit in the state—coming off of two somewhat disappointing years and mired in criticism from his own fan base, Miles was able to sign a very exciting group of athletes.

The 2010 class includes:

Spencer Ware, Five-Star RB

5'11", 225 lbs.—Cincinnati, Ohio                                      

Spencer headlines a great group of incoming ball carriers and reminds me of a Mark Ingram downhill bruiser with great slashing ability.

Zach Lee, Four-Star QB

6’5” 200 lbs.—McKinney, Texas

Zach had more than 20 offers and has a huge upside at quarterback.  Look for Lee to be Jefferson’s successor in 2012.

J.R. Ferguson, Four-Star DE

6'3", 272 lbs.—Hargrave Military Academy

Ferguson gives depth to LSU’s depleted depth chart on the defensive side and could be a superstar for the Tigers in coming years.

James Wright, Five-Star WR

6'3", 185 lbs.—Belle Chase, La.     

Some consider James a five-star player and he may have a opportunity to see significant playing time early at LSU.

Armand Williams, Three-Star WR

6'3", 185 lbs.—Slidell, La.

This kid may the most underrated player in the nation.  He runs a 4.45, has a confirmed 41” vertical and as a champion and Olympic quality long-jumper he has posted jumps just 5” inches off of the World Record.  In the mold of Brandon LaFell—who was also an underrated three star recruit—expect Williams to do great things in Purple and Gold.

Eric Reid, Four-Star DB

6’2”, 200 lbs.—Geismar, La.

Eric’s recruitment came down to the wire and many feared a signing day disappointment for this physically gifted athlete but the fax rang at 1:54pm and Tiger fans sighed in "Reid-lief."

Four-star Jakhari Gore, three-star Alfred Blue, and three-star Brandon Worle round out a great haul in the backfield for Les Miles and Frank Wilson, who replaced Larry Porter as running backs coach.

Billy Gonzales, the Tigers new wide receiver coach and passing game coordinator has to be thrilled with three-star Kadron Boone and four-star Jarrett Fobbs to go along with Wright and Williams. 

In addition, four-star Travis Dickson, three-star Cameron Fordham, and three-star Nick Jacobs give Gonzales three more big and athletic tight ends to work with.

On defense, John "The Chief" Chavis welcomes a number of super-talented athletes that include four-star DE Ken Adams, four-star DB Tyrann Mathieu, four-star DE Jordan Allen, four-star OL Evan Washington, four-star LB Ronnie Vinson, four-star LB Justin Maclin, and four-star DB Tharold Simon.

For a complete list of LOI signers check out Dandy Don’s.

On balance, National Signing Day may not lessen the divide in the two camps and LSU fans may still have reasons for concern when looking back on the last two years.

What is clear, however, is that LSU is miles away from declining in talent.  ESPN and Todd McShay might want to go back and revisit their "live" coverage because the Tigers will welcome one of the most talented and athletic classes in the country.

After last year’s top rated class and looking at next year’s class that may already be one of the best groups the country has ever seen grouped in one state, LSU fans have to be excited about the Tigers’ future.

The question Miles’ detractors might want to ask is whether one second in Oxford really defines a tenure that includes 52 wins (.776), an SEC title, National Championship, and at least three top-five recruiting classes, or is there a little magic left in the Mad Hatter?

I think the Mad Hatter’s camp got a little more crowded today.


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