A couple of signing day surprises, headed by defensive end J.R. Ferguson out of Fredrick, Md., put the 2010 signing class for LSU firmly in the top 10 of most ranking services.
"I think it's a very good day for our football team," coach Les Miles said after securing the fourth consensus top-10 class in his six years with the Tigers. "I think we improved our team. This is a very talented class.
"I think the last day certainly benefitted us. We didn't get everybody that we wanted, but we got those guys that we had to have and ones that will really come in and have an effect on this team."
In addition to Ferguson, who had not announced a commitment but was seen as a longshot for the Tigers, LSU lured another defensive end, J.C. Copeland, from Tennessee, along with wide receivers Jarrett Fobbs from Texas A&M and Kadron Boone from Texas Tech in the final days.
Fobbs, from Shreveport, La., and Boone, from Ocala, Fla., were among four wide receivers in the 27-player class. The others were Armand Williams from Slidell, La., and James Wright from Belle Chasse, La.
"I feel like these four guys were exactly what we needed at that position," Miles said. "I like those guys because they are good students.
"On the field, they are physical players with good speed and great ball skills, so I think the ability to put young guys on that field that will compete in those multiple wide receiver sets is back."
Overall, the class has 14 offensive players, 11 defensive, one special team player (punter Brad Wing from Baton Rouge) and one player listed as "athlete" (Sam Gibson of Prattville, Ala.).
Two players, Kendrick Adams, and Evan Washington of DeSoto, Texas, are already enrolled and will go through spring practice. Adams is a defensive end and junior college transfer. Washington, an offensive lineman, is rated a four-star prospect (Rivals.com) even though he played only two years of high school football.NOTES, QUOTES
--LSU got good news when LB Kelvin Sheppard announced he was returning for his senior season. He led the Tigers with 110 tackles, fourth-best in the SEC, in 2009. WR Terrance Toliver and OT Joseph Barksdale also are returning.
--Coach Les Miles put to rest Internet rumors that offensive coordinator Gary Crowton was on his way out. Crowton will return in 2010, according to reports in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and other newspapers, even though the Tigers finished last in the SEC and 112th in the country in total offense at 304.5 yards per game.
--DE J.R. Ferguson, Frederick, Md. -- Ferguson is rated one of the top defensive line prospects in the nation and is the No. 6 (Rivals.com) and No. 7 (Scout.com) prospect at his position. He had 67 tackles and 12 sacks last season for Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia.
--RB Spencer Ware, Cincinnati -- Scout.com gives Ware four stars as a running back but Rivals.com rates him its 19th best prospect as an "athlete" who can play on both sides of the ball. Listed at 5-11, 223, Ware could end up at fullback and play right away for the Tigers.
--WR Armand Williams, Slidell, La. -- With wide receiver a position of need, Williams' late switch from a commitment to Arkansas to sign with LSU was a welcome move for the Tigers, who lost another wide receiver commitment. Williams has the height (6-foot-3) the coaches love. Rivals.com rates him a three-star prospect.
--RB Jakhari Gore, Miami, Fla. -- At 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds, Gore fits in the group of smaller running backs that seems to be growing in popularity. He has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Rivals.com rated him the No. 6 all-purpose back in the country. He's the cousin of former University of Miami and current San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore.
--S Eric Reid, Geismer, La. -- Reid told the Tigers nearly a year ago he was coming to LSU. He's considered the top defensive back prospect in the state.
--DE Ken Adams, Enterprise, Ala. -- A junior college prospect who originally signed with Auburn, Adams is expected to add to the Tigers' pass rush. He had 10 sacks playing for Copiah-Lincoln College in Mississippi last year. He is already enrolled and will take part in spring practice.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Offensively, I think anytime you look at a class you look at the quarterback first, and I think we have probably signed the best passer since Matt Flynn. He's a pitcher that throws 90 miles per hour. He's got a lot of moxie, and I think Zach Lee is going to be a great quarterback in the future." -- Coach Les Miles, comparing QB Zach Lee from McKinney, Texas to Flynn, the former Tiger who threw for 2,407 yards and 21 touchdowns as a senior in the 2007 national championship season.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 LOOK AHEAD: QB Jordan Jefferson returns after a solid but not spectacular season as a sophomore in 2008. He won't have Brandon LaFell as a target, however, and the Tigers also will be looking for a new left tackle, a spot filled by Ciron Black the last four years.
SPRING SNAPSHOT: Spring practice will begin Feb. 25. The spring game is March 27.
The Tigers will be looking to bolster their running back position and filling some key holes on defense. Defining QB Russell Shepard's role also has to be high on the list of priorities. Shepard played mostly as a running back as a freshman in 2009, taking some direct snaps in a "Wildcat" formation, but he is a weapon the Tigers need to take more advantage of.
PRO POTENTIAL: LSU could have two players go in the first round and could have three or four in the first two rounds. Only one junior put his name in the pot.
--WR Brandon LaFell -- LaFell not only is a good receiver but he doesn't shy away from blocking downfield. He looks to be the first LSU player to go in the draft.
--LT Ciron Black -- Black is a four-year starter and one of the more durable offensive linemen available. If LaFell isn't the first Tiger picked in the draft, Black will be.
--S Chad Jones -- Jones is coming out early after having a solid junior year with three interceptions. He also figures in as a punt returner with a long of 93 yards for a touchdown.
--RB Charles Scott -- Injuries slowed him in 2009 but he is a capable inside runner who also has a burst to break off a big play. He failed a physical before the Senior Bowl, indicating a lingering problem with his broken collarbone that could hurt him in the draft.
--DT Charles Alexander -- Injuries probably kept Alexander from reaching his full potential, but he's a solid defender who could go in the late rounds.
--LB Harry Coleman -- Coleman moved from safety for his senior year to take advantage of his capabilities on run defense. He's another possible late-round selection.
--DE Akiem Hicks, whose recruitment was the subject of an NCAA investigation, has left the Tigers. Hicks signed a year ago out of Sacramento City Community College in California.
Assistant coach D.J. McCarthy, who has since left LSU, recruited Hicks and is at the center of the investigation, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.
--Two prospects who did not sign likely will still end up at LSU, the Morning Advocate of Baton Rouge reported. DE Houston Bates (Covington, La.) hasn't been assured of a scholarship until the second semester and will spend his first season as walk-on rather than waiting to enroll as a "grayshirt." His father said Bates doesn't want to wait to start college because he plans to go to medical school. The other player, DT Dexter Blackmon Jr. (Selma, Ala.) has academic issues to clear up.
Previous Report: 01/28/2010