I feel I could have ranked the LSU Tigers a little bit lower. I do believe they could be a contender in 2014. However, I was not impressed with new QB Anthony Jennings’ performance in the Outback Bowl. But, like several other schools, LSU is LSU and should be strong as usual. Les Miles is going to field a good team in Baton Rouge in 2014, just as he did in 2013.
QB could be a huge problem for the Tigers. Cam Cameron is a great OC but he has his work cut out for him. Anthony Jennings (6-2,205) was only a freshman a year ago when he threw the winning TD against Arkansas and started for the injured Zach Mettenberger in their Bowl game. Jennings only threw 29 passes a year ago and completed 13 for 181 yards. He hit 7 out of 19 in the Outback Bowl against Iowa. It was not a pretty sight which makes me wonder how he will do in 2014.
The back up QB that looked to have the most potential, Stephen Rivers, the little brother of Chargers QB Phillip has announced he would be transferring. Rivers is 6-8 and has not had an impact. With Rivers transferring, I am assuming he thought he would not log any playing time or that LSU is changing offenses and going more with the spread with Jennings.
Hayden Rettig (6-2,205) is a redshirt freshman out of California and could give Jennings a push. He was a highly rated QB in last year’s recruiting class. He is more of a traditional drop back passer.
Penn State transfer Rob Bolden (6-4,210) may also be in the mix. Bolden has never played for LSU but he played a lot at Penn State and had over 2000 yards passing there, so he could be a valid option should Jennings falter. He has been moved to WR in the Spring, but may still be an option at QB.
Long shot prospect here is 4 star incoming freshman Brandon Harris (6-2,185) from Bossier City, La. Brandon Harris has a strong arm and quick feet judging from his highlights and he was rated as the #2 dual threat QB in the 2014 class. He was an early graduate and is participating in Spring Practice currently. He could be a big factor here.
From my viewpoint which means little to the LSU coaching staff, I am most impressed with Brandon Harris. As far as a a pure passer, I am most impressed with Rettig. Harris looks to be the best of both worlds and I almost expect him to start this season.
Like the QB position, RB also took a big hit. Gone is Jeremy Hill and his 1400 yards and 16 TDs. The Tigers also lost Alfred Blue and his 343 rushing yards.
Losing Hill is a big deal, but the Tigers do have some talent returning. Terrence Magee (5-9,210) carried the ball for 626 yards at an impressive 7.3 yards per carry. Throw in Kenny Hilliard (6-0,235) an obviously big back that piled up 310 yards. LSU would be fine with these 2 seniors returning but it doesn’t stop here, and this is where it really gets exciting.
LSU signed the #1 player and RB in the entire country in Leonard Fournette (6-1,225) a 5 star New Orleans product. I’ve seen Fournette play a few times and this kid could be spectacular. I really hate to depend on a true freshman out of high school, but I would be shocked if he doesn’t have an early impact. I also hate to compare young kids of the game, but I’ve seen top recruits going back to Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker and in more recent years, Adrian Peterson. Leonard Fournette reminds me most of Bo Jackson. He is just an outstanding prospect and the perfect LSU type running back, big and strong on top of fast. I look for Fournette to have an outstanding freshman season.
Incoming recruit Darrel Williams (6-1,215) is only rated a 3 star, but he is also big and strong and really quick. He should wind up playing a lot for the Tigers before he is done. He probably will redshirt and be Fournette’s back up next season.
LSU took the biggest hit of all in the receiving corps.
It’s just going to be really tough to replace 2 super star receivers like Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham even for a school with a talented roster like LSU always has. These future NFL players combined for 136 receptions and 2,345 yards and 18 TDs. That’s a lot of offense taken away and both were juniors that declared early.
Sophomore Travin Dural (6-2,180) had 7 catches a year ago and should start at one receiver spot. One of those 7 catches was the game winner in the Arkansas game thrown by Jennings.
Senior Quantavius Leslie (6-4,175) had 1 reception a year ago and has played sparingly. He will probably be passed on the depth chart by either of 3 redshirt freshmen, John Diarse (6-1,210), or Kevin Spears (6-3,190) or Avery Peterson (6-2,190). Diarse probably leads this group and should start. QB Rob Bolden could help out at WR as well. If Bolden does well at WR, he may have the option of sticking around if all the other QBs come through.
Another bright side for the LSU, the Tigers had a fantastic year in recruiting and landed the #1 ranked WR in the country in Malachi Dupree (6-3,190) from John Curtis High school in River Ridge, La. Also, in the super category is #3 rated WR Trey Quinn (6-1,200) from Lake Charles, La. Both of these guys have the potential to help out right away. 4 star recruit DJ Chark (6-1,175) could play here or on the other side of the ball at CB. Or, even 4 star recruit from Texas, Tony Upchurch (6-2,225). The Tigers will be very green in the receiving group but they are not without talent and depth.
TE is fairly loaded with senior Travis Dickson (6-3,230) returning. He was not much of a receiving threat at year ago with 5 catches. Man monster Dillion Gordon (6-5,285) is also returning, but he produced only 6 receptions in 2013. Also in the mix is Desean Smith (6-4,240).
Logan Stokes (6-5,250) could provide depth as could incoming 4 star recruit and #5 ranked TE in the country, Jacory Washington (6-5,225). Washington should get a redshirt year to beef up and he shouldn’t be needed right away.
The LSU offensive line is huge and experienced, returning 4 out of 5 starters which helps make up for other losses from the 2013 offense. LT La’El Collins (6-5,315) is among the best and should be an All American candidate. The other tackle, Jerald Hawkins (6-6, 300) also returns.
Left guard Vadal Alexander (6-3,345) is a monster and a mauler. New starter at the other guard is huge as well in Fehoko Fanaika (6-6,350), if he does win the starting job on the Spring.
Returning Center Elliot Porter (6-4,300) is a wee little lad compared to the guards on both sides of him. The Tigers are deep and talented up front. Most notable back up is Karl Malone Jr (6-3,290) who has plenty of size but lacks his famous father’s height.
LSU’s outstanding recruiting class also included home grown #1 rated OG in the country, Garrett Brumfield (6-4,285). Also, in this class is 4 star OG William Clapp (6-4,275).
No worries for LSU up front and that could ease the pain of losing so many skill position players and ease the transition for future star RB Leonard Fournette.
Ball control offense and great defense has always been an LSU trademark and this year should be no different, I am thinking.
It all begins up front for the Bayou Tigers, on both sides of the ball.
At DT, LSU lost top juniors Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson to the NFL. It will be a battle in the Spring and into early Fall to see who replaces those monsters.
Leading candidates could be reserves from a year ago, Christian LaCouture (6-5,300) or Mickey Johnson (6-1,310) or even Quinten Thomas (6-3,290). Or, the starters could come from a group of formerly highly recruited redshirt freshmen including Greg Gilmore (6-4,310) or Maquedious Bain (6-4,310) or Frank Herron (6-5,275).
One more group to consider is incoming highly recruited freshman, Travonte Valentine (6-4,320) or Troy Lealiamatafao (6-1,300) or Davon Godchaux (6-4,275)
LSU is loaded and especially along the defensive front. The defensive tackle positions are a little unsettled and may drop off a little bit from a season ago, but they have plenty of depth and some serious talent. Just no Ego Ferguson or Anthony Johnson on the roster any longer.
On the outside DE’s Danielle Hunter (6-6,240) and Jermauria Rasco (6-3,260) are back and both are big and talented. Rasco had 4 sacks and Hunter had 3. Jordan Allen (6-6,250) played some and added 2 sacks. There is plenty of depth at this position as well and throw in Deondre Clark (6-3,240) from Oklahoma City.
DJ Welter (6-1,225) returns at MLB and was the team’s second leading tackler in 2013. His back up, Lamar Louis (6-0,215) also is back. Kwon Alexander (6-2,220) is back on the Strong side and Deion Jones (6-2,210) has played at the other backer spot. Clifton Garrett was the #2 ranked ILB in the nation but may have to wait his turn in the middle.
The secondary only lost Craig Loston. CB’s return several guys that either started or played a lot.
Jalen Mills (6-1,190) or Rashard Robinson (6-1,165) could play at LCB and Tredavious White (5-11,180) or Jalen Collins (6-2,195) on the right side. Ronald Martin (6-1,215) has played a lot at FS and Corey Thompson (6-2,210) at the SS.
4 star recruits Jamal Adams (6-0,205) the #2 safety prospect in the land and #4 safety Ed Paris (6-0,200) both Texans should help right away.
LSU plays in the toughest division in football with Alabama and Auburn. LSU was the only team to dominate the Auburn Tigers a year ago. LSU opens with Wisconsin in Houston. They must visit Auburn this time around and the Tide comes to Baton Rouge. If Jennings or one of the other QBs step up, there’s no reason why the Tigers shouldn’t be right in the mix at year’s end.