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June 30, 2011

LSU's Impact True Freshmen

I was looking through the new Drudge Report-like website - Top College Teams SEC page last night and noticed an ESPN SEC blog headline/link call "Impact true freshmen: Western Division".  In the ESPN article Chris Low mentions defensive tackle Anthony Johnson but excludes him from being considered as an impact "true" freshman because he enrolled early and took part in LSU's Spring practices.  Low also mentions one other LSU true freshman, wide receiver Jarvis Landry.  Chris Low's article focused my attention on LSU's true freshmen.  I do not buy the premise that if a football player enrolled early and took part in Spring practices, he has lost his status as a true freshman.  In my book, a true freshman is a  "true" freshman though his entire first year of college football.  For me we can stop considering Anthony Johnson and Kenney Hilliard true freshmen when this football season is over.  Having set that ground rule here is the list of LSU true freshmen list that can be found on LSU's official roster:
56  Anthony JohnsonDT6-3294  Fr.HS  New Orleans, La. (O.P. Walker HS)
  Jonah AustinOL6-5320Fr.HSNew Orleans, La. (St. Augustine HS)
  Odell Beckham Jr.WR5-11175Fr.HSNew Orleans, La. (Isidore Newman HS)
  Jalen CollinsS6-1180Fr.HSOlive Branch, Miss. (Olive Branch HS)
  La'el CollinsOL6-4315Fr.HSBaton Rouge, La. (Redemptorist HS)
  Micah EugeneS5-11185Fr.HSLafayette, La. (Acadiana HS)
  James HairstonP5-11175Fr.HSDallas, Texas (Jesuit HS)
  David JenkinsCB6-1179Fr.HSJena, La. (Hebron)
  Mickey JohnsonDT5-11310Fr.HSCovington, La. (St. Paul's HS)
  Jarvis LandryWR5-11190Fr.HSLutcher, La. (Lutcher HS)
  Alonzo LewisWR6-3205Fr.HSSt. James, La. (St. James HS)
  Terrence MageeRB5-9205Fr.HSFranklinton, La. (Franklinton HS)
  Ronald MartinS6-1182Fr.HSWhite Castle, La. (White Castle HS)
  Trevon RandleLB6-1205Fr.HSLeague City, Texas (Clear Springs HS)
  Jermauria RascoDE6-4240Fr.HSShreveport, La. (Evangel Christian Academy)
  Stephen RiversQB6-7198Fr.HSAthens, Ala. (Athens HS)
  Quentin ThomasDE6-3276Fr.HSBreaux Bridge, La. (Breaux Bridge HS)
  Paul TurnerATH5-11185Fr.HSWest Monroe, La. (West Monroe HS)
  Trai TurnerOL6-2334Fr.HSNew Orleans, La. (St. Augustine HS)
  Corey WhiteOL6-3333Fr.HSBaton Rouge, La. (Capitol HS)
27  Kenny HilliardRB5-11225Fr.HSPatterson, La. (Patterson HS)
After looking over this list of LSU true freshmen several times, I find it very hard to limit the list of potential impact true freshmen to a single player as Chris Low did in the ESPN article.  One way to that this might be limited is to redefine the standards of "true freshman" like Low.  There is real potential in this group of freshmen coming to play for LSU this year. The only real limiting factor for many of these guys is whether or not they will make an impact as true freshmen or wait to blowup Tiger Stadium in a year or two.  Considering that may lead me to limit LSU's impact true freshmen to very few players, just like Chris Low.  So, here is what I am thinking:

Look for jersey number 56 ever time you see LSU's defense sack a quarterback or blowup a play in the backfield.  The player you see first may very well be #49, Barkevious Mingo, or #99, Sam Montgomery, or #90, Michael Brockers, but odds are that you will see #56, true freshman Anthony "Freak" Johnson getting up from the pile.  It would not surprise me if LSU true freshman Anthony Johnson is named SEC freshman of the year at the end of the season.  Johnson is that good.

Two other true freshmen defensive linemen that will make a difference once they hit the field are Mickey Johnson, a Rivals 4-star defensive tackle that squats nearly 700lbs and benches 450lbs, and Jermauria Rasco, a 4-star defensive end from high school national powerhouse Evangel of Shreverport.  Although many will think of offensive players like San Diego Chargers Jacob Hester or University of Miami former quarterback Brock Berlin when they think of Evangel players, Evangel has has produced some pretty good defensive linemen.  Indianapolis Colts defensive end Kenyunta Dawson is the first Evangel defensive line player that comes to mind but many LSU fans will may remember former LSU defensive end Chase Pittman, also an Evangel player.

Looking over the list of true freshmen offensive linemen should put a smile on all of Tiger Nation.  Considered with the facts that Evan Washington is a redshirt freshman and Chris Faulk is a sophomore, it would appear that Les Miles has a good plan for keeping LSU's offensive line well stocked.  While I hope to see LSU's true freshmen offensive linemen redshirted, I think it may be hard to keep consensus #1 offensive line recruit La'el Collins out of the LSU lineup for an entire year.  La'el Collins may be challenging for a starting position from the moment he steps foot on LSU's campus.    

Both Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee may be truly outstanding running backs that will thrill Tiger fans for years to come but LSU has a strong and deep group of running backs so these guys may not get many opportunities this year.  I do not know a lot about Magee but anyone who has followed LSU for any length of time would not be surprised to see Dalton Hilliard's nephew, Kenny Hilliard, contend for Heisman by his senior year.

All of the true freshmen currently listed as a safety or cornerback may not play safety or cornerback but they will get a chance to earn playing time this year.  LSU played a number of freshmen last year on the defensive side of the ball.  John Chavis appears to be committed to playing the best players without regards to class rank. I have heard very good things about linebacker true freshman Trevon Randle.  Randle may not start but he might get enough playing time to be an "impact" freshman.  

True freshman punter James Hairston may have the best chance of any of the true freshmen of starting.  I think I am probably like ESPN's Chris Low in think naming a punter as an impact true freshman is not very sexy or cool. Still, LSU has punt team guys that can rundown a punt and pin the ball deep in opponent's territory and coach Miles has been known to run a fake punt every now and then so, I'll be bold and name Hairston as a dark horse impact true freshman but he is still going to have to win the position.

I saved possibly the best for last - namely the wide receivers.  LSU recruited three very good wide receivers.  Alonzo Lewis has the size (6-3, 205lbs) that remind me of a Brandon LaFell or a Dwayne Bowe but even more exciting is that reports are that Lewis' speed makes him a deep threat.  Odell Beckham, Jr. played for Isidore Newman, the same high school that helped develop Peyton and Eli Manning.  Beckham shares a Isidore Newman H.S. distinction with Cooper Manning as one of only two wide receivers to break the 1,000 yard receiving mark in a single season.  Beckham's father was a running back for LSU in the late 1980s, early 1990s and his mother was an All-American track star at LSU.  I kind of suspect that Odell Beckham, Jr, may have the right stuff to play football for LSU.  The one LSU impact true freshman that ESPN's Chris Low identified in his article was wide receiver Jarvis Landry.  LSU is very deep at the wide receiver position but Low's analysis may be dead on.  Jarvis Landry was consider the #1 wide receiver prospect by MaxPreps and the #4 wide receiver prospect by both Rivals and Scout.  Landry was also named his team's Most Valuable Player in the Under Armour All-American Game.  To have stood out with limited playing time among the very best players in the country is quite an accomplishment.  I think all three of the true freshmen wide receiver may get redshirt year and a chance to develop over the next four years but any of these three true freshmen certainly have the potential to make a huge impact this year.

I was not nearly as good as ESPN's Chris Low at focusing on the one or two LSU true freshmen impact players but that does not worry me one bit.  In fact, as a Tiger fan, I am excited to see a very bright future for LSU Football.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your column. Nice job.

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