LSU Tiger Football -2009
What to expect in the season ahead
Spring practice started Thursday amidst the excitement of what certainly looks to be one of the strongest recruiting classes in the history of Tiger football. ESPN had LSU’s 2009 class rated first in the nation. Rivals.com and Scout.com rated the Tigers second and third respectively.
LSU signed 10 ESPNU Top 150 prospects, Alabama came in second signing seven.
Odds are that at least five signees from this class will see considerable playing time this season. This is due to two reasons: the exceptional talent & skills these incoming freshmen possess and the large number of vacancies which the team must fill with the departure of 20 graduating seniors, and an early-departing junior or two seeking to enter the upcoming NFL Draft in April.
So who do we want to keep an eye on this spring?
Well, here’s a list of my five recruits that should “turn a couple of heads” this spring and see substantial playing time come fall:
Russell Shepard—Dual QB
Don’t be surprised to see Les Miles looking at Shepard in a couple of different roles. Sure, he’ll spend most of his spring working at the QB position, but with Jordan Jefferson sewing up the starting QB slot, Shepard could be used in a couple of positions.
He could be used as a flex back due to his exceptional running ability and 4.4 second speed in the 40. He rushed for 66 TDs and 4,800 yards averaging an incredible 8.0 yards/carry. (Oddly enough, he threw for only 32 TDs during his high school career.)
Shepard could be used on offense the same way Percy Harvin was for Florida last season.
Moreover, Shepard could be used as a CB or DB on the defensive side of the ball. He is a superb talent and possesses the type of speed to play either of these skill positions on defense.
LSU landed the best receiver in the nation with the signing of Randle.
No doubt about it, Randle is as close to an immediate impact player that the Tigers have in this year’s recruiting class. He will start as a true freshman and could contribute as much as, or perhaps even more than, Bama’s freshman WR Julio Jones did last season.
Here’s an interesting fact: In his senior year in high school, Randle played QB and passed for 2,461 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also had 683 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns on the ground. He’s truly an amazing talent!
Craig Loston – DB/Safety
Rivals.com not only ranked Loston as the No. 1 safety in the nation, but also rated him in the top 25 recruits overall. He should get a lot of playing time this season, perhaps even contending for the starting safety position in what should be a fine LSU defensive backfield.
By the way, I believe that Loston and CB Patrick Petersen (So.) are first team All-American caliber DB's and are destined to play on Sundays. I believe that they have the potential to be far better than LaRon Landry and Chevis Jackson were a couple of seasons ago.
Yes, that’s right, I said far better and I’m sticking with it!
Chris Davenport – DT
LSU signed yet another Rivals.com top 25 recruit, in DT Davenport. I have seen every film clip available on Davenport and I cannot believe that anyone can be that dominating.
Davenport is 6’4” and 318 pounds. He had a knee injury his senior year in high school, and played in only four games. However, in those four games, Davenport had 45 tackles and nine sacks. He looked like a man playing against boys!
Mark my word, Davenport’s trademark will be his ability to apply pressure when he pass rushes. He is very difficult to block, and has the physical size to take up a lot of space on the line. He should see a lot of playing time this season as a true freshman because John Chavis gravitates towards DTs who “bring the heat.”
Chavis will not have Davenport riding the bench, even if Al Woods and Drake Nevis are the projected frontrunners going into the spring. (Besides, both Woods and Nevis didn’t really live up to the coaching staff’s expectations during the second half of last season.)
Chris Faulk – OL
At 6’ 6” and 310 pounds, Faulk has been clocked under five seconds in the 40-yard dash. He has squatted over 500 pounds, and has a 30 inch vertical leap. These elements are exactly what you hope to see in an outstanding offensive lineman, and Faulk certainly fits the bill.
Faulk should see alot of playing time this season!
2009 Depth Chart (by Position)
Well, so much for the recruits. Going into spring practice, here is my depth chart for 2009 with a bit of a twist; I have made some projections on a couple of players.
The picture will change when Coach Miles and his staff conduct the planned practice sessions which total 15 over the next couple of months. The practice dates are: March 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, 28, and 31; April 1, 2, 14, 16, and 18. LSU Pro Day is also on March 16.
On offense, LSU’s priority is in establishing a new line, identifying a new fullback, determining a starting quarterback, and solidifying its WR corps.
Given his performance in the latter half of last season, Jefferson is the frontrunner for the QB slot. I am predicting that Tyler Edwards (RSFr.), whose currently listed as a TE on all depth charts, will try out at FB.
Do not be surprised if Joseph Barksdale (Jr.) also tries out at the FB slot. The WR picture looks great with Randle and dark-horse Tim Molton vying for a slot. Coach Miles has not been able to hide his optimism about Tim’s tremendous talent.
I have identified my sleeper picks with a “Z” and will update these players as practices take place.
I have identified with an “I” players who have an injury concern.
Starting Backup Contending
QB – J. Jefferson (So.) J. Lee (So.) R. Shepard (Fr.)
C. Garret (Fr) – Z
RB – C. Scott (Sr) K. Williams (Sr) R. Murphy (Jr)
M. Ford (Fr) - Z
FB– S. Ridley (So) D. Allen (Fr) - Z T. Edwards (RSFr)
WR– B. LaFell (Sr) T. Tolliver (Jr) R. Randle (Fr)
T. Molton (RSFr) - Z
TE – R. Dickson (Sr) M. Joseph (So) A. Russian (So) – Z
C - T. Hebert (RS Fr) - I P. Lonergan (RSFr)
RG– L. Hitt (Sr) G. Shaw (RSFr) E. Mc Coy (RSFr)
LG – J. Dworaczyk (So) W. Blackwell (So) C. Spencer (RSFr)
LT – C. Black (Sr) T. Parsons (RSFr)
RT– J. Barksdale (So) A. Hurst (RSFr)
On defense, the majority of LSU's holes are on the line. Rahim Alem (DE) is a certain starter. However, he’s much better rushing the passer than he is against the run.
Charles Alexander (LT) has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. If he can stay healthy, Alexander’s a sure starter and a force to be reckoned with.
Middle linebacker Jacob Cutrera played in all 13 games last season as a junior, two of which he started, but he was often bothered by a chronic hamstring injury. Coach Miles will be taking a look at several other talented players on defense who have not yet proven themselves.
Starting Backup Contending
RE– R. Alem (Sr) C. Clements (RSFr) P. Levingston (So)
LE– C. Aghayere (RSFr) L. Edwards (RSFr) S. Corley (So)
LT – C. Alexander (Sr) – I A. Woods (Sr)
RT – D. Nevis (Jr) C. Faulk (Fr) - Z C. Hagans (RSFr)
OLB – P. Riley (Sr) S. Clemens (So)
MLB– J. Cutrera (Sr) K. Prater (RSFr)
RCB – J. Eugene (Jr) C. Hawkins (Sr)
LCB – P. Petersen (So) P. Jones (So)
SS– C. Jones (Jr) K. Hatcher (So) S. Francois (RSFr) - I
FS – H. Coleman (Sr) C. Loston (Fr) – Z C. Hawkins (Sr)
PR/KR – T. Holliday (Sr) C. Jones (Jr) K. Williams (Sr)
K – J. Jasper (Jr) D. Alleman (RSFr)
P – D. Helton (Jr) J. Jasper (Jr)
Writer: Russ Arsaga firstname.lastname@example.org 781-820-1992 (cell)