February 8, 2007
Baton Rouge, LA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- Playing in the Southeastern Conference is no easy task for a team's defense.
Four teams who will play LSU in 2007 including the University of Florida, the University of South Carolina, the University of Arkansas and the University of Kentucky, ranked among the top five in total offense in the SEC this past season.
On Wednesday, Les Miles and the coaching staff welcomed ten new defensive recruits to the team as the Tigers landed their second straight top-10 recruiting class in the country on another successful National Signing Day.
Chad Jones, a safety from Southern Lab High School in Baton Rouge, was the most anticipated defensive signing this year. Jones is listed as a five-star recruit on the recruiting website Rivals.com and was also chosen as a Parade All-American his senior season - one of four in this year's class.
Donald Long, who created the LSU recruiting source DandyDon.com, said that Jones and another incoming defensive back, Stefoin Francois, could see playing time this coming season with the departure of All-American free safety LaRon Landry and strong safety Jessie Daniels.
"The defense is so loaded for next year," Long said. "With the exception of maybe the cornerback and safety positions, it will be hard for any of the incoming players to step in."
Francois, who participated in the U.S Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 6, is the fifth-ranked defensive back in the country according to Rivals.com. The Tigers are returning senior defensive backs Jonathan Zenon and Chevis Jackson, which should help assimilate the young players into Bo Pelini's physically demanding system.
The rest of the incoming secondary includes Phelon Jones, a defensive back from McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile, Ala., who was named the 2006 Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year, and Delvin Breaux of McDonogh 35 High School in New Orleans.
Breaux is still recovering from a severe neck injury sustained in October of his senior season, but could see action as soon as next season according to Miles.
Long said the defensive line is the most stacked part of the defense heading into the 2007 season. The Tigers are returning three of four starters on the defensive front in senior tackle Glenn Dorsey, junior tackle Marlon Favorite and junior defensive end Tyson Jackson.
Detroit native Joseph Barksdale, who attended Cass Tech High School, is considered the top defensive tackle prospect from the Midwest. The 6-foot-6-inch, 315 pound lineman was a selection on the USA Today All-USA High School first team after recording 73 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles his senior season.
Sidell Corley of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, who was a late verbal commitment, signed his letter of intent for LSU yesterday morning. Corley is ranked as the fourth-best strong-side defensive end in the country.
Louisiana native Will Blackwell is another name that will be heard on the defensive line in the future for the Tigers. The West Monroe High School graduate tallied 54 tackles, four sacks and forced four fumbles his senior season as a defensive end for the Rebels.
Finishing out the defensive line signees are defensive tackle Drake Nevis, who played next to Blackwell at West Monroe and defensive lineman Kentravis Aubrey, who helped lead Bastrop High School to a Class 4-A state title his senior year.
Stevan Ridley, who played running back and linebacker for Trinity Episcopal High in Natchez, Miss., is one of two linebacker signees for the Tigers.
The other, Shomari Clemons of West Monroe High School, is back this season after originally signing a year ago and returning to high school because of academic qualification issues.
LSU coach Les Miles said he is not afraid to put a freshman on the field, as 10 to 14 freshman saw action during the 2006 season.
"I don't think you can be shy of playing freshmen," Miles said. "If you do, you take a fourth of your team and discount their athletic ability. We recruit to specific needs, and those guys that fit those needs will get the first opportunity. Many times that means a freshman goes on the field."
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