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LSU Team Report
LSU coach Les Miles was willing to admit that while the players who committed to the team last fall were able to enjoy the Tigers' national championship run, he's not sure if winning the title actually helped the recruiting class.
Still, it probably didn't hurt, either. It didn't keep the Tigers from ranking anywhere from sixth to 11th in the nationally recruiting rankings.
"We filled our needs," Miles said. "It's what we needed to get accomplished in this recruiting class. We didn't get everybody we went after. We would have certainly liked to add several to the class on the back end. But we got what we needed and feel like this class gives us every opportunity to compete for a (national) championship."
The class of 25 included its share of stars, including 11 All-Americans and two Parade All-Americans in cornerback Patrick Johnson and wide receiver DeAngelo Benton (who spent the 2007 season at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy.
The Tigers lost out on signing day on two possibilities when defensive tackle Corey Liguet followed his previous commitment to Illinois and running Jermaine Thomas kept his commitment to Florida State.
LSU's needs included nine linemen -- five on the offensive side and four on the defensive line. The Tigers also signed four cornerbacks and the one quarterback it sought, Jordan Jefferson.
Miles said LSU's willingness to play freshmen in recent years has proven to be a valuable selling point for the Tigers' coaches.
"This program, literally year after year, has turned to freshmen and young people, newcomers to the program, and counted on their ability to contribute and compete," Miles said. "I think it's a real strength of ours and I think when we recruit those recognize that's a commitment we have."
CB Patrick Johnson, Pompano Beach, Fla. -- With starters Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon completing their eligibility, Johnson has a chance to come in and make an immediate contribution this fall. "He is big, physical and athletic," coach Les Miles said.
WR DeAngelo Benton, Bastrop, La. -- The Tigers also lost leading receiver Early Doucet, providing an opening for Benton, a big receiver (6-3, 205) who spent the 2007 season at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy.
DL Chancey Aghayere, Garland, Texas -- Aghayere is ranked as high as third among the nation's defense ends. At 6-4, 243 pounds he has the speed to rush off the edge and the frame to add more size.NOTES, QUOTES
--Former No. 1 QB prospect Ryan Perrilloux was suspended for a violation of team rules. Coach Les Miles, announcing the penalty on Feb. 18 -- 11 days before the start of spring practice -- didn't offer additional details. One internet report indicated Perrilloux was being punished for missing a meeting, but that was unsubstantiated by the coach at the time the suspension was made public.
--As of national letter-of-intent signing day, LSU coach Les Miles had not hired a defensive coordinator to replace Bo Pelini, who left to become the head coach at Nebraska. However, the LSU defense caught a break when two returning starters -- defensive end Tyson Jackson and linebacker Darry Beckwith -- decided to return for their senior seasons and a third -- defensive end Kirston Pittman - decided to petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. Pittman missed the 2005 and 2006 seasons because of injuries.
--Miles hadn't said much about who will replace Pelini until signing day when he confirmed he will promote from within his staff and hinted that two coaches will work together as co-coordinators. The most likely prospects are secondary coach Doug Mallory and linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto.
--LSU and North Texas have agreed to reschedule their 2008 football game from Aug. 30 to Sept. 13 in Tiger Stadium. LSU is attempting to fill its Aug. 30 opening with another home game, possibly against a team from another BCS conference.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "When you look at what we have coming back and look at the needs that this team has in an order, you would have to say the loss of cornerbacks Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon would be the most acute issue. We set out to get a talented cornerback class, and that's just what we did." -- LSU coach Les Miles.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SPRING AHEAD: The Tigers are loaded with talented young players, but it's still going to take some time to replace 23 seniors, especially the 11 who started on a regular basis during the national championship season. Ryan Perriloux was expected to step in as the starting quarterback before he was suspended by Les Miles on Feb. 18. Even if Perrilloux is reinstated, that still leaves a lot of openings, notably with three secondary spots to be filled and the defensive front seven experiencing turnovers. The Tigers must also find and develop true go-to players at receiver and tailback.
DT Glenn Dorsey -- Dorsey would likely have been picked in the top 15 if he had gone pro following his junior season, but he returned for his senior year to win a national championship and major individual awards and improve his stock. He's met all three goals by leading the Tigers to the national title, winning the Lombardi, Outland, Nagurski and Lott awards and consensus All-America honors and moving into the top three picks in the draft. Where he goes will depend on individual team needs and desires, but don't be surprised if new Miami Dolphins executive VP Bill Parcells uses the No. 1 overall pick on Dorsey. Dorsey has work to do, especially on his pass rush technique, but he has so many qualities NFL teams look for in terms of size, speed, quickness, strength and intangibles. He plays with relentless intensity and passion and has a good head on his shoulders.
WR Early Doucet -- Injuries limited Doucet early in the season when he missed most of five games due to a groin pull and teams will worry about his durability but he's shown enough in the second half of the season to keep teams interested in him as a possible second-round pick. It remains to be seen how NFL teams will react to the fact that he left the Senior Bowl early and decided to focus on rehabbing his injured hamstring. Doucet brings a combination of decent size (6-0, 210) and quickness but he isn't particularly fast and won't likely develop into a No. 1 receiver in the NFL.
OLB Ali Highsmith -- The jury is definitely out on Highsmith. Some scouts look at his speed and athleticism and see him as one of the top three linebackers in the draft and a potential first-round pick. Others have concerns about his instincts and strength at 6-foot, 225 pounds and see him more of a third-round pick. It really depends on the team and what it's looking for, but Highsmith appears to be best suited for a cover-two defense.
CB Chevis Jackson -- LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pellini could afford to leave Jackson in single coverage most of the time but Jackson isn't likely to become a shut-down man-to-man corner in the NFL and doesn't have the pure speed to make plays downfield. Jackson, a likely mid-round pick, is smart and instinctive and his coverage skills should be a good fit for a zone team, especially a cover-two team.
CB Jonathan Zenon -- Zenon was also able to play a lot of man-to-man for the Tigers but is even less suited for that task in the NFL than Jackson. His technique and instincts are solid but he'll most likely end up a late-round pick for a zone-oriented team.
SS Craig Steltz -- Steltz isn't going to wow anyone with his athletic ability in workouts but he is smart and instinctive with a nose for the ball and a willingness to hit. Some draft analysts see him going as high as the third round. Some believe he'll go in the later rounds. Like Jackson and Zenon, so much will depend on the defensive schemes of individual teams. Steltz didn't get a chance to show what he can do in the Senior Bowl when he was unable to play because of a shoulder injury suffered in the national championship game.
QB Matt Flynn -- Flynn is an intriguing quarterback prospect with a lot of questions to answer. He brings above-average arm strength and speed to the position but he only started one season at the college level. His best chance will likely come late in the draft with a team that can afford to put him in a developmental situation.
RB Jacob Hester -- Hester played both tailback and fullback for LSU, developed into an effective runner and receiver as a senior and displayed a unique ability to push his way through small spaces for big gains, especially in short-yardage situations. NFL teams rarely make fullbacks a draft priority so he won't likely be drafted until the later rounds but Hester brings a mix of intangibles, skills and versatility to make it at the next level. "He's an interesting guy," said San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan, who coached Hester in the Senior Bowl. "Those kinds of guys typically play. They play for a good while, and they help teams win a lot of games. ... I don't care what they say. I'll be shocked if he's not a damn good NFL player."
--QB Ryan Perrilloux was suspended by the LSU coaching staff on Feb. 18. According to reports, Perrilloux, his family and coach Les Miles had multiple disagreements in recent weeks. Perrilloux was also reported to have missed a team meeting. Miles declined to discuss the suspension in detail, citing only a violation of team rules. LSU begins spring practice Feb. 29.
--WR Trindon Holliday and DT Ricky Jean-Francois might miss some winter conditioning workouts but they have a good excuse. They're both members of the LSU track team, Holliday as a sprinter who finished second in the 100 meters at the 2007 NCAA outdoor meet; and Jean-Francois as a shot putter who earned All-SEC indoor honors as a freshman in 2006.
--Cornerback Patrick Johnson, generally regarded as LSU's top signee, had hoped to enroll at LSU in January after graduating in December from Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Fla. Instead, he will not enroll in June because of questions about his ACT score. After scoring 16 on his first two attempts Johnson scored 22 on his third ACT and the NCAA Clearinghouse told him he needed to retake the test a fourth time to support his most recent score.
Previous Report: 02/08/2008