Travonte Valentine, one of the top defensive prospects in the class of 2014, has committed to play college football at LSU. It's a key signing that should have a major impact on the Tigers' defense.
Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald provided word of the star recruit's decision:
Travonte Valentine picks LSU.— Andre Fernandez (@AndreMHsports) February 5, 2014
Valentine is rated as a 4-star defensive tackle by 247Sports' composite rankings, which also rank him as the No. 65 recruit in the country, the third-best player at his position and the ninth-ranked prospect overall in the state of Florida.
No matter how you look at it, he's a top-tier prospect.
It's easy to see why. The Florida native pairs ideal size (6'3", 338 pounds) with a high level of athleticism for a tackle to make him a tough matchup for any interior offensive lineman. That much was obvious at the high school level.
What made him stand out was the sheer ease with which he was able the shed blockers and get into the backfield. He's going to meet more resistance once his collegiate career gets underway, but he possesses plenty of potential.
The other notable positive about Valentine is his versatility. He moves well for a tackle, so he's capable of shifting to end on rushing downs and giving the team more run-stopping ability up front. Anytime a player can provide more flexibility, it helps.
Will Valentine become a college star?
Two keys for him to live up to the hype are strength and experience. While he's been strong enough to manhandle smaller, less talented linemen in high school, he would benefit from continuing to fill out his frame and harvest more power as he prepares to face more players on his skill level.
Experience is necessary for similar reasons. To this point, a majority of opponents he has faced simply haven't had the players to slow him down. That will change in college, so Valentine needs some time to adapt to the college game, as is the case with most incoming players.
All told, he should be able to showcase his upside early in his college career. It will just take some time before he's able to fully achieve the dominance he's capable of.