The LSU Tigers' recruiting class is one Travonte Valentine away from being one of college football's premier signing classes.
Well, even with the athletes sneaking out of the bayou, swamps and that seemingly unconquerable West Monroe hotbed, you can still deem this class as a success with the signing of Valentine.
Does Travonte Valentine make or break LSU's recruiting class?
Indeed, this class' saving grace could come in the form of a 6'3", 338-pound defensive tackle, and the reason being are the Tigers need to add depth on the defensive line more than they need to add any other position in this class.
Some might argue for the wide receiver position, but even if the Tigers grab a moral victory in 5-star wide receiver Malachi Dupre, he might be a year removed from starting at the next level with his raw technique.
That combined with the thought of freshman Trey Quinn joining Travin Dural, John Diarse, Kevin Spears and Avery Peterson suggest that defensive tackle is a much bigger need than wide receiver.
Before Peterson was injured last season, he was making waves on the team and head coach Les Miles raved about him any chance he got. But then his injury stalled him in his development and sidelined him from playing wide receiver as a freshman.
Reminds me of a similar story involving a player that wore No. 80 last year for LSU. Here's to hoping Peterson's story ends parallel with Landry's.
On that same notion, I'm sure LSU fans are hoping, should Valentine come, he'll have a more successful career than Johnson did. And even though fans love to hate on him, they're going to miss him, especially if the Tigers can't get a defensive tackle to produce nine tackles for loss like Johnson did last season.
Yeah, its safe to say the Tigers need Valentine like Miley Cyrus needs attention. I’m willing to bet a nude Les Miles would crash through a wall on a wrecking ball for him, too.
It's pivotal for LSU to attain the third best defensive tackle in the nation, per 247 Sports. Valentine, who is expected to announce on national signing day, had a great visit with his mom at LSU over the weekend though, so there's reason to remain optimistic.
If he chooses to love purple and live gold, the Tigers signing class could possibly give 2003 and 2009's a run for its money. Let's walk before we run though...
The Other Side
Someone commented on one of my past articles with a remark that had me really thinking the other day. In my column, I was talking about how important La'el Collins' return to the team was and how the game is won in the trenches.
Agreeing with my point, someone commented and asked about the other side of the trenches. It's true a veteran offensive line will give LSU plenty of opportunities to win games in 2014 but LSU's lack of superstars on the defensive line could cost them just as many.
Without Ego Ferguson and Johnson holding it down in the middle for the Tigers in 2014, a game-changer in the middle has to emerge.
That's why the Tigers need a Thoroughbred in the 2014 class. All eyes on you, Travonte.
Nothing new to him. He knows the high-pressured situation. Heck, he retweeted a fan saying that LSU needed him to win a national championship.
@traveeey99 LSU may have gotten Fournette. But we'll never win a national championship without you. Your the missing piece of the puzzle.— Mark Clement (@mrkc385) January 16, 2014
While I'm not so sure you can label Valentine's decision as national championship or bust, his signature on national signing day could be the most significant of any signature on Feb. 5.
Names Carry Weight, Needs Carry Significance
At the end of the day, draft classes have to provide necessity rather than sizzle.
Make no mistake about it—this recruiting class isn't absent of big names. Leonard Fournette, arguably the biggest name coming out of high school football, committed to the Tigers after all.
But when it's all said and done, recruiting classes are all about making teams better, and though Fournette will be big offensively, Garrett and Adams can only do so much if the Tigers are vulnerable at defensive tackle.
That explains why the position currently has the most targets being pursued (over six). None have more hype behind them than Valentine.
Was his visit to LSU love at first sight or will his Jan. 31 visit at Miami lure him back to the Hurricanes? I'm afraid Tiger fans can't afford the latter.