The month of January was far from kind to the LSU Tigers, after 10 juniors declared early for the 2013 NFL draft. However, the month of February can make pessimists turn optimistic again with the signing of Robert Nkemdiche.
Ever heard of him? If you call yourself a college football enthusiast, chances are you know him very well.
Nkemdiche is the No. 1 overall prospect on ESPN and Rivals, and LSU is one of his final top three teams. Don't get your hopes up just yet Tiger fans. Most feel he will choose Ole Miss over LSU and Florida simply because his brother Denzel Nkemdiche is the Rebels' starting linebacker.
LSU is still in the race though. With both Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery declaring for the NFL draft, both of LSU's defensive end positions are wide open. And if Nkemdiche is as good as the hype suggests, he'll grab that starting position and become a proverbial superstar with the Tigers.
LSU is the last of the three schools to host an official visit, and it's vital for the Tigers to make a lasting impression on the 5-star athlete.
If some way, somehow Nkemdiche decided to come and play college ball at LSU, it would have a large effect on preseason rankings.
Yeah, this kid is that good. The biggest reason it would have an effect on LSU's preseason positioning though lies with what LSU doesn't have right now.
Every season the Tigers tend to have at least one big name returning to the defense. Who is that this season? Last time I checked, Eric Reid, Kevin Minter, Bennie Logan, Tharold Simon, Mingo and Montgomery were all hitting the road.
So who will step up to become LSU's next big playmaker? Does LSU have enough talent to cope with gaping holes on this unit?
Absolutely. LSU recruits well and had multiple freshmen like Kwon Alexander, Deion Jones, Jalen Mills, Jalen Collins and Micah Eugene that gained valuable playing time in 2012.
But the addition of Nkemdiche would add some excitement to this team, and you better believe the media would boost LSU's preseason ranking as an immediate result.
Think about it. LSU replaces Montgomery on the outside with another highly-touted defensive end that has the same type of hype Jadeveon Clowney had coming out of high school.
Anybody hear how he did in the 2013 Outback Bowl? Don't think I heard his name that often on Jan. 1.
Anyway, if Nkemdiche can be similarly as good as Clowney, he'll have a resounding impact at LSU and he'll become the playmaker Minter was in 2012 and Tyrann Mathieu one year before him.
Are Jones, Mills and the others talented? Without question, but are they bona fide playmakers? Well, that remains to be seen. Nkemdiche is a future all-conference player.
And whether he's drawing double-teams, making sacks or causing fumbles, he'll be an impact player for whichever SEC school he chooses.
The only question is—will he choose LSU?