Imagining What LSU's Starting Lineup Will Look Like in 3 Years
Just imagine what the future holds for star recruits like Leonard Fournette, Malachi Dupre and Jamal Adams in an LSU uniform. In pure wonderment, how good could LSU be when the 2014 signing class are all juniors?
You sense that? That's a fun writing topic brewing about what LSU's starting lineup would look like three years from now.
There has to be some ground rules since the next signing day is a year from now though. The 2015 commits are not eligible to be named starters, so only current players on the roster can assemble this 2016 starting lineup.
This is obviously a stretch, considering these projected lineups will likely change as soon as the 2015 commits sign their letters of intent. But until they do, we'll fantasize about this fantastic class entering their junior season.
Note: Star rankings and recruit information courtesy of 247Sports.
Quarterback: Brandon Harris
No doubt Brandon Harris is the quarterback of the future.
This isn't a slight to Anthony Jennings' talents. Instead, this is simply a backing of Harris'. When I watch Harris throw the football, my jaw nearly drops every time. For such a small-framed player that's billed as a dual-threat guy, he has an incredible release completed with a sensational velocity.
His problems, which will likely halt him from starting as a true freshman, are his inconsistencies at technique and desire to do too much. That got him in trouble oftentimes in high school, but at that level he was able to mostly overcome those issues. I think 3,518 passing yards, 1,153 rushing yards and 54 total touchdowns speak for itself.
Give Harris time under Cam Cameron's tutelage, and Cameron will squeeze this coal into a fine diamond by Harris' junior season.
Running Back: Leonard Fournette, Darrel Williams
I'd be surprised if LSU's one-two punch in the backfield didn't translate into the same type of success Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have had at Georgia.
Despite a handful of injuries between the two last season, both guys have combined for 3,379 rushing yards and 55 total touchdowns while sharing the backfield the past two seasons.
When fully healthy, Gurley and Marshall are arguably the best one-two punch in football. I fully expect Leonard Fournette and Darrel Williams to have similar success.
Fournette is a bruiser, blazer and all-around back, while Williams is a downhill runner with some wiggle in open space. No matter how different LSU's offense looks in 2016, expect the Tigers' running game to still be the focal point of the offense. The reason can be found in these two backs.
Wide Receiver: Malachi Dupre, Trey Quinn
Yeah, that's right, we're going old school with the picture. (That's Trey Quinn pitching a no-hitter in the Little League World Series in 2008 for those unaware.)
Meet the new Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham.
By 2016, Malachi Dupre should be molded into one of college football's best vertical threats, while Quinn should be a substantial producer at the slot.
With Quinn's speed and excellent technique, he should acquire many mismatches in one-on-one situations, while Dupre will be a defense's worst fear in red-zone situations.
Tight End: DeSean Smith, Jacory Washington
Three years from now is a long time. It's so long that Tiger fans could witness a completely new offense than they're used to seeing.
Don't get it twisted—the run game will still be LSU's bread and butter. However, the tight ends that LSU is taking in recruiting class after recruiting class suggest Cameron is preparing his Baltimore Ravens tight end sets to make an appearance.
Look no further than DeSean Smith (last year's grab) and Jacory Washington (Cameron's most recent acquisition) to back up that notion.
Both Smith and Washington have the build and skill set to be called big receivers, rather than tight ends. With both on the field at the same time, defenses will have to pick their poison. Stop the dangerous tight ends on the inside, leave Dupre without a blanket on the outside or test your luck against Quinn in the slot? Yeah, this offense is going to be scary good in a couple years.
Josh Boutte (LT), Garrett Brumfield (LG), Ethan Pocic (C), Will Clapp (RG), Andy Dodd (RT)
Admittedly, this is where it gets pretty ridiculous. Never said it wasn't a wacky ride. But hey, at least it's a fun one, right?
Anyway, this projected starting offensive line is centered around the fact that Jerald Hawkins turns pro and Ethan Pocic decides to play his senior season with the Tigers.
This offensive line is a product of one of Les Miles' finest jobs of corralling offensive line talent in the 2013 signing class.
Mix Garrett Brumfield and Will Clapp from the 2014 class with that bunch, and LSU has a fierce offensive line that will clear pathways for Fournette and others. Imagine what this offensive line would look like with 5-star, 346-pounder Maea Teuhema, should Teuhema decide to stick with his commitment to the Tigers.
Defensive Ends: Deondre Clark, Davon Godchaux
The future defensive ends at LSU will be headlined by the last-minute signing-day darlings.
Davon Godchaux flirted with other schools down the stretch of his recruitment, while Deondre Clark officially signed his papers nearly one week after signing day. Nonetheless, both are signed and ready to contribute at the next level.
Both Godchaux and Clark are 4-star defensive ends that will benefit from learning behind Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco next season.
By the time they're juniors and have added to their frame, they should be effective, speedy pass-rushers on the outside for LSU.
Defensive Tackle: Travonte Valentine, Christian LaCouture, Trey Lealaimatafao
Les Miles better start working on pronouncing Trey Lealaimatafao's name real quick. Heck, as a sportswriter, I've already got his spelling down pat.
The way I see it—Travonte Valentine will be a full-fledged starter by this time and Christian LaCouture will sub with Lealaimatafao. In other words, get used to seeing a lot of Lealaimatafao.
Because Miles values senior leadership, LaCouture will likely start, but Lealaimatafao will earn just as much playing time with a frequent rotation.
As for Valentine, I expect the prospect, who recorded 31 tackles for loss in his senior season of prep ball, to come in and find playing time immediately.
Linebackers: Kendell Beckwith, Clifton Garrett, Duke Riley
Duke Riley was anointed with a baptism into the fire of SEC football last fall. I stood there watching the young freshman face the Big Cat Drill King, J.C. Copeland, in a one-on-one confrontation.
I was actually scared for him. Then this happened. After clicking the link and witnessing the destruction of Riley, you should be just as surprised as I was to see Riley bounce back and have a tremendous freshman season in a special teams role.
His play actually earned him some playing time at linebacker, and you know, it made folks start to think this player has a bright future. A future that could put him on the path with other future breakouts Clifton Garrett and Kendell Beckwith.
Garrett will likely handle the "Mike" position because of his explosion and tackling ability, while Beckwith and Riley should be the more versatile linebackers of the three.
Cornerbacks: D.J. Chark, Russell Gage
I want to bend the rules I created in the intro so badly. This slide, especially at LSU, is most likely to be inaccurate simply because the coaching staff recruits players that will become immediate impacts.
If Kevin Toliver II keeps his commitment to the Tigers, he will undoubtedly hold one of these starting positions. But rules are rules, and since he's unsigned, he's void of entry.
So that leaves us with the obvious choices in D.J. Chark and Russell Gage, simply because they are the only cornerbacks I see left on the roster by this time.
Both Rashard Robinson and Tre'Davious White will likely turn pro after their junior season, and though Toliver II and others will probably replace them, experience should give Chark and Gage an opportunity to contribute as well.
Safety: Ed Paris and Jamal Adams
Unlike cornerback, safety has tremendous depth of freshman talent.
The two who will headline this unit are Jamal Adams and Ed Paris, but don't think for a second they won't be challenged by John Battle and Devin Voorhies.
That's elite competition that's going to be played out from day one.
So can you imagine how deep this position will look when all four safeties have experience under their belts? Paris and Adams are at the front of the line, but don't be surprised to see Battle and Voorhies making appearances as well (if they choose to remain at the safety position).