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LSU Team Report
On signing day, LSU came in second in recruiting battles for Atlanta-Booker T. Washington's Reshard Jones, who signed with Georgia; Birmingham-Huffman offensive lineman Andre Smith, who picked Alabama; and Waco, Texas, defensive back Perrish Cox, who backed out on a previous commitment to LSU and signed with Oklahoma State.
LSU expected to sign running back Keiland Williams of Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy, especially since he committed to LSU on Jan. 23, but Williams did not sign with the Tigers because he's still considering USC and Ole Miss.
"Absolutely, I was caught off guard by this," LSU coach Les Miles said. "Guys that have those last-minute thoughts, that's not unusual. But to extend it for a long time is relatively unusual."
Then again, that kind of crazy uncertainty also worked in LSU's favor. Destrehan, La., cornerback Jai Eugene signed with the Tigers after being committed to Michigan for most of January. Fort Lauderdale, Fla., defensive lineman Charles Deas waited until signing day to choose LSU over Auburn and Nebraska, helping the Tigers pull off a class that could be ranked as one of the nation's top 10, depending on the source.
"Whether it's the fifth-ranked class or the second-ranked class or the 16th-ranked class is not the issue," Miles said. "The issue is the success that's gone on before them, the legacy of winning, and the opportunity to do one better. I believe this class is what we need. I'm excited about the class."
The strength of the class lies in its offensive lineman and linebackers. Junior college signee Philip Loadholt and Zhamal Thomas were among five offensive linemen signed to a line that must replace three starters. The Tigers also signed five linebackers, including one, Jacob Cutrera, who is enrolled at LSU and preparing to take part in spring drills.
--CB Jai Eugene, Destrehan, La. -- Eugene was committed to Michigan for nearly a month before he chose to stay close to home. That's big news for LSU, since he's widely considered one of the nation's top cornerback prospects by many recruiting services, and LSU needs help at cornerback.
--OL Philip Loadholt, Garden City, Kan., Community College -- With the Tigers looking for immediate help at three positions, especially at left tackle to replace departed Andrew Whitworth, Loadholt likely will be tossed right into the mix for a starting job. Loadholt, one of the highest-ranked JC offensive linemen, will have three years of eligibility at LSU.
--DT Al Woods, Elton, La. -- Ranked as the nation's No. 1 defensive tackle by several recruiting services and selected as a Parade All-American, Woods is a massive (6-5, 325) prospect for a defensive lineman, with the ability to control the line of scrimmage but still run and make plays on the move. With LSU losing both starting defensive tackles, Woods will be on the field as soon as he's ready.
--DT Charles Deas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dillard -- Even with LSU's needs on the defensive line Deas, might be more of a long-term investment. He sat out his senior season to concentrate on academics but is still considered so talented and explosive that he was invited to the prestigious CaliFlorida All-Star game and was ranked among the nation's top 20 defensive tackles by several sources.
"LaRon is a player that brings great deal to our football team in terms of his ability on the field, but he's also a guy who is a leader and someone that other players on this team look up to," LSU coach Les Miles said.
--As of national letter of intent signing day, Miles had not hired a replacement for defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, who accepted a similar position with the Minnesota Vikings.
"The timetable is when we find the right guy," Miles said.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Recruiting is a year-long process. Recruiting is a great recruit wanting to come and visit your school the week your family is planning its vacation. Tough." -- LSU coach Les Miles.
--DT Claude Wroten -- Explosive, talented player with the ability and quickness to make big plays, but hasn't been as consistent or productive as he needed to be as a senior. G Max Jean-Gilles dominated him in the SEC championship game, and he sometimes can be slow to react or make decisions. He must improve technique and skills, but his upside will give him a chance in the first day. It'll be interesting now to see how NFL teams view his recent arrest on felony drug charges. Wroten was allegedly caught with two bags of marijuana in his car and more than $3,200 in cash in his wallet.
--RB Joseph Addai -- Once seen as solid all-around back who works hard, gets all he can out of an opportunity and brings the ability to pound or elude, protect or catch passes. Doing all those things and showing some additional elusiveness helped his cause during Senior Bowl week, and now Addai is being seen as a possible second-round pick and starter in the NFL.
--T Andrew Whitworth -- Has the size (6-6, 325 pounds), experience, intelligence and attention to technique to play at the next level, but not as athletic or natural as the better tackles in the draft, so he'll probably have to move from left to right tackle and wait until late on the first day of the draft.
--WR Skyler Green -- Quick and explosive return specialist who has yet to make good on his potential as a receiver. Combine that with concerns about his size and straight speed and he'll have to wait until the second day of the draft to be a potential return specialist and a slot receiver at the next level.
--DT Kyle Williams -- Tough, hard-nosed and resilient player who gets off the ball quickly and plays the run and pursues well, but gets overpowered too often and isn't effective enough as a pass rusher.
--DE Melvin Oliver -- Quiet, underrated player who showed signs of growing into his potential as a senior, especially late in the season. He was especially productive in critical situations, getting up field and making plays when it mattered most. He could get a shot on day two of the draft.
ROSTER REPORT: LSU coach Les Miles said QB JaMarcus Russell is still recovering from a December shoulder injury and is likely to miss most of spring practice, so that means more reps for Matt Flynn, who led the Tigers to a 40-3 Peach Bowl victory over Miami in his first start, and redshirt freshman Ryan Perrilloux, one of the nation's top prep prospects in the 2005 signing class. TB Alley Broussard isn't as far as long with his knee rehabilitation as LSU coaches and trainers had hoped and probably won't participate in full-contact drills in the spring. TB Justin Vincent will miss spring practice and won't be ready to practice until the fall after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament on a special-teams play in the Peach Bowl. FB Steven Korte is expected to be ready for the spring after suffering a knee injury in October and missing the rest of the season.
Previous Report: 01/05/2006