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February 7, 2011

LSU Football 2011 Restocking, Racking and Stacking

Congratulations to Frank Wilson (RB coach, recruiting coordinator) for being named "Recruiter of the Year"!  LSU has another outstanding recruiting class.  Having a great recruiting class is something to be proud of but the real questions left to be explored are:  1. How do the 2011 recruits fill LSU's needs? (Restocking) and 2. How does LSU's 2011 recruiting class compare with their 2011 opponents classes? (Racking and Stacking).

LSU finished 11-2 this year and even though LSU lost some outstanding players, LSU has solid talent in place at every position.  So how do this year's recruits contribute to LSU's needs?  

On offense the position most in need of help was clearly Quarterback, followed by depth at offensive line.  LSU is less in need at wide receiver and then least in need at running back.  

LSU has two senior quarterbacks returning in 2011 but quarterback play was inconsistent.  After a year of unpredictability, recruits Zach Mettenberger and Stephen Rivers give a clear sign that LSU offenses will feature pro style passers.  Senior starter Jordan Jefferson is now the only LSU QB that is a true run threat and I think even Jefferson would prefer to pass than run.  Mettenberger would be the starter for Georgia next year had he kept his hands to himself in bar his freshman year.  Hopefully a year in Junior college has allowed Mr. Mettenberger the time needed to mature.  While in Junior college, Mettenberger had a "Cam Newton" type of experience while leading his team to the Junior college national championship game where his team finished 2nd.  Mettenberger should have a real shot at starting next year and he cannot be red shirted because of his experience at Georgia.  Because both Lee and Jefferson enter their last year of eligibility Mettenberger will need to get as much playing experience as possible to ensure experience at quarterback for 2012.  My prediction is that even if Jefferson or Lee reach their maximum potential this year, Mettenberger is going to have to get some meaningful playing time.  Stephen Rivers has all the potential of his older brother, San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers, but I think the best course for Stephen is to redshirt him.  LSU Strength and Conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt ought to be able to add 15 to 20 lbs of muscle on Rivers and LSU's new OC and QB coach Steve Kragthorpe should be able to teach Rivers to be all LSU fans could possibly want from a quarterback.  It is exciting to think how good LSU should be for years to come with the potential that Mettenberger and Rivers offer at the quarterback position.  

LSU is solid at all other offensive positions but  the loss of OT Joseph Barksdale, WR Terrence Toliver and RB Stevan Ridley certainly subtracted talent from the Tigers.

Offensive Line
LSU's offensive line played really well this year and there are a couple of talent players looking to step into Joseph Barksdale's large shoes.  LSU recruit, La'El Collins was a universal 5-star recruit and easily a top 3 offensive tackle.  Collins has the best chance to start of LSU's 4 OL recruits but whether he starts this year or next year, Collins ought to prove to be one of LSU's best offensive linemen ever.  All four of LSU's offensive      
linemen may see substantial playing time this year.  In addition to Collins, Tra Turner, Corey White, and Jonah Austin all fit the 6'5" to 6'7" height, 300 to 340-lbs. weight ranges that are the ideal for offensive linemen.  Most recruiting services rank LSU's four OL recruits as one 5-star, two 4-stars, and a 3-star.  While star ratings are imperfect at predicting real potential, these ranking tell us that these guys have some potential.  I am hoping that LSU's offensive line coach Greg Studrawa can take a page out of DL coach Brick Haley's book and rotate more linemen into the offensive line mix in 2011.  Rotating more fresh bodies into the game proved to be a good idea for the defensive line in 2010 but I will defer to the experts to determine if the same thing could work for LSU's offensive line in 2011.  I know, I don't get a say in the matter but I can dream.

Wide Receiver and Running Back
LSU lost Terrence Toliver and Stevan Ridley from the 2010 team and both these guys should be real values for NFL teams next season but, LSU has loads of Receiving and Running talent waiting to explode next year.
It is almost unimaginable that 5-star WR recruit Jarvis Landry and #9 RB Kenny Hilliard may start  on the Tiger's 2011 squad but it could definitely happen.  There are countless talented wide receivers looking to start but Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham are two guys that are going to catch lots of footballs in purple and gold.  What is even more exciting is that the 2011 class brought in another wide receiver named Alonzo Lewis that at 6'3" and 192lbs. may prove to be the dark horse of this receiving group.  

Spencer Ware, Mike Ford, and Alfred Blue should be one heck of a running back committee in 2011 but I cannot imagine keeping a guy named Hilliard from Patterson, La. on the bench for very long.  At 225lbs. Hilliard could fill some runs typically given to Ridley in 2010.  Like QB Mettenberger and new DT Anthony Johnson, Hilliard is already enrolled at LSU and will benefit from working out, learning LSU's system and playing this spring.

Defensively, LSU lost three great leaders from the 2010 team:  CB Patrick Peterson, LB Kelvin Shepard, and  DT Drake Nevis.  There are numbers to describe these guys contributions on the field but numbers do not begin to give an accurate measure of the value these three guys brought to the Tigers.  

At defensive back there are a number of names that the Tigers can count on in 2011 but David Jenkins is a 2011 recruit that may be this year's Tyrann Mathieu breakout player.  Several backup linebackers from the 2010 team are ready to step into the large shoes left by Kelvin Shepard. LB Trevon Randle may be the Kelvin Shepard of the 2011 recruiting class only time will tell.  For me, the really exciting 2011 defensive recruits are all on the D-line.

Defensive Line
LSU signed four defensive linemen in this year's class.  According to Anthony Johnson is the #1 defensive tackle prospect in this year's class.  He has already enrolled in classes at LSU and many are saying this guy may very well see the starting lineup in 2011.  That is pretty impressive considering the very solid linemen that will return from last year's team.  I would bet that Michael Brockers will shine this year at defensive tackle.  Still, the future of LSU's defensive interior should be Johnson and Johnson.  In addition to Anthony Johnson, Mickey Johnson comes ready to at least rotate into the DT spot.  Mickey Johnson is rated as a 4-star DT by which is one star shy of predicted superstar but Mickey Johnson has one big thing going for him upon arrival at LSU.  According to, Mickey Johnson is the second strongest defensive tackle coming out of high school this year.  Mickey Johnson bench presses 450lbs. and squats 695lbs.  That kind of strength on a 6'1" 310lbs frame makes the 4-star Johnson the type of play that is likely to succeed in the SEC and projects well to the NFL in a few years.  Jermauria Rasco and Quentin Thomas round out a solid D-line recruiting group.  Rasco and Thomas are both defensive ends and Rasco is one of the top ten defensive ends in this recruiting class.  Rasco is very likely to be in the mix of probably the best group of defensive ends to see a college football field in 2011.

So now for the second major question:  "How does LSU's 2011 recruiting class compare with their 2011 opponents classes?"

Racking and Stacking
LSU had another great recruiting class.  ESPN ranked LSU's class #10. ranked LSU's class #9. And ranked LSU's class #6.  It is difficult for the even the experts to judge which great high school football players will make the transition to becoming great college football players.  If you have any experience with high schoolers you know how very unpredictable their futures can be.  Who knows what any one's future holds?  Still these expert rankings give us some measure of where the football programs stand.  Seven of the teams LSU will face in 2011 have recruiting classes that rank in the top 25 this year.  Here is where LSU and 2011 opponent's recruiting classes rank:


  1. Alabama          2               6                    1
  2. Auburn             3               2                    7
  3. LSU               10               9                    6
  4. Florida           12             18                  12
  5. Tennessee    13             11                  13
  6. Oregon          14             10                    9
  7. Arkansas       18             16                  24
  8. Ole Miss         25             24                 18
When you place these recruiting class rankings in a chart like this, you immediately notice that there is some disagreement even among the top experts.  With Les Miles at the helm of LSU, LSU has consistently recruited top 10 classes nearly every year.  The two SEC west schools from Alabama may appear to have bested us with this year but I would not be so quick to make that claim.  On the field, LSU, Alabama, and Auburn are close competitors.  LSU, Alabama, and Auburn may become regular fixtures in the BCS title game for years to come.  I like the LSU Tigers chances in 2011.


Chuck Ward said...

Very good analysis. I think the Tigers will be in the NC hunt at the end of 2011 and for the next few years to come.

Anonymous said...

With the addition of Metteberger at QB...The LSU football fans are very,very,exited to see LSU play football this nest season.
It has been a three(3) year since the LSU offense could simply passed their way down the football field...No matter who they were playing.
From what I hear about Metteberger this LSU football team just might be able to do that again.

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