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LSU replaces departures with big-time class - Houma Times: Sports

LSU replaces departures with big-time class

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Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 1:35 pm

At some schools, they rebuild.

The LSU football team seems to reload.

After losing more than 10 underclassmen to the NFL Draft, the Tigers filled most of their needs in a star-studded recruiting class.

LSU received 26 signed scholarship offers from a who’s who of the top college football prospects.

The Tigers inked two five-star players and 15 four-star prospects, according to recruiting service Rivals.com’s class rankings.

Their class is among the best in the nation, according to all recruiting services.

“We had a very quality recruiting season and ending,” LSU football coach Les Miles said. “I think the depth of this recruiting class is very strong. I don’t think there’s much difference between our highest ranked guy and our lowest ranked guy. I think they are all very, very similar and are competitive.”

The line of scrimmage was a huge focus of the Tigers’ recruiting – especially on defense.

LSU signed seven defensive linemen and five offensive linemen in their class.

The need for defensive linemen stemmed from the Tigers losing defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery and also defensive tackle Bennie Logan to the NFL Draft.

To refill the talent pool, the Tigers inked Rivals.com five-star defensive end Frank Herron from Memphis and also Scout.com five-star defensive tackle Greg Gilmore of Hope Mills, NC.

Those players will team up with defensive ends Christian Lacouture, Lewis Neal and Michael Patterson and defensive tackles Marquedius Bain.

The incoming fleet will also join forces with LSU’s lone Signing Day surprise – former Auburn commitment defensive end Tashawn Bower, who swapped SEC Tigers and inked with LSU.

“With four defensive ends (gone) and two defensive tackles, we had to replace them with a very, very quality defensive line class,” Miles said. “We took three defensive tackles and four defensive ends. The need was met.”

On the offensive side of the trenches, LSU received signed scholarships from four-star linemen Josh Boutte, Andy Dodd, Fehoko Fanaika and Ethan Pocic.

They also hauled in three-star K.J. Malone, who is the son of NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone.

Miles said the talent of the offensive line commitments is something he is very excited about.

“This is probably, since I’ve been here, the best five-man class in the offensive line that we’ve had,” Miles said. “We’re excited about what these men can do in the future.”

Besides the defensive front, the rest of LSU’s defensive class was filled with standouts.

In the back-end of the defense, the Tigers signed four-star defensive backs Jeryl Brazil, Rickey Jefferson and Rashard Robinson.

Arguably the gem of the entire class is five-star defensive back Tre’Davious White from Shreveport.

“He’s a very gifted athlete,” Miles said of White. “He will be returning kicks and different things. He has just great speed. He has tremendous coverage skills and he’ll look a lot like the great corners that we’ve had here in the past.”

In the linebacker corps, the Tigers also added depth, taking East Feliciana standout Kendell Beckwith and also three-star prospects Melvin Jones and Duke Riley.

Miles said he cannot wait to see Beckwith in an LSU uniform for the first time.

“He’s one of the most highly recruited prospects in our state,” Miles said. “He’s a big, tall, rangy and athletic linebacker. … He’s certainly what we needed and he’ll play a strong role as our SAM backer.”

On offense, LSU signed two quarterbacks of the future.

Los Angeles four-star pocket passer Hayden Rettig joins dual-threat passer Anthony Jennings as a four-star duo.

Rettig is rated slightly higher than Jennings on most recruiting services because of his 6-foot, 4-inch frame and powerful right arm.

The Hollywood signal caller threw for more than 5,500 yards and 62 touchdowns in his career as a starter at Cathedral High School.

But Jennings also lands in college with esteem, owning a 4.5-second mark in the 40-yard dash and a 3.1 GPA.

Jennings completed 165-of-273 passes for 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions as a junior.

“These guys give us the ability to throw it and run it and they both have great futures,” Miles said of the two quarterbacks in the class.

When the quarterbacks hit the field for the first time at the college level, they will have a slew of new receivers to work with.

LSU signed four wide receivers and two tight ends in the 2013 class.

Leading the receivers is someone with a familiar pedigree in Baton Rouge – Avery Johnson.

Johnson is the little brother of former Tiger great Patrick Peterson.

Joining the 6-foot, 2-inch receiver are four-star vertical threats John Diarse, Quantavius Leslie and Kevin Spears.

Barbe High School’s DeSean Smith and three-star Logan Stokes serve as the tight ends of the class.

Each player can stretch the field, according to Miles.

“All of these players have talent and ball-skills, which will provide us with really strong future play at those positions,” Miles said.

So with 11 underclassmen gone and headed to the professional ranks, it’s understandable that some might doubt LSU’s prospects going forward.

Miles isn’t one of the naysayers.

He believes LSU is just fine – now and into the future.

After the departures, they’ve officially reloaded.

“I like the blend of size and strength and speed. This is a highly ranked class and I think it has character and integrity,” Miles said. “I think the quality of the people are such that they will want to compete for championships. If I had to predict, I’d say this is as strong of a class as we’ve signed and the style of class that will put us in great position as we go forward.”

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