7/24/16 5:50 am CST
Good morning Tiger Fans,
In recruiting news, LSU picked up its 16th commitment of the 2017 recruiting class yesterday when West Virginia native Seth Stewart announced his pledge. Stewart (6’8”, 320, Point Pleasant, WV), the No. 6 prospect in West Virginia, received an offer on the final day of LSU’s three-day high school camp and wasted no time in committing. The massive O-lineman was previously committed to Marshall and holds a handful of other offers including Arkansas, Louisville, West Virginia and Pittsburg. With his commitment, the Tigers now have four offensive linemen in this class and they all have great size. The other three are Edward Ingram (6-4, 325), Saahdiq Charles (6-5, 314) and Austin Deculus (6-6, 323).
After Stewart’s announcement yesterday, 247Sports released its updated team rankings for the 2017 recruiting class and LSU was No. 5 with one 5-star, seven 4-star and eight 3-star prospects. Alabama (No. 2) and Georgia (No. 3) were also in the top 5 with Ohio State ranked at No. 1.
The Tigers also got a surprise visit yesterday from 2017 wide receiver prospect Devonta Smith. You might recall that Smith, an Amite High School product, recently revealed his top-four schools and didn’t include LSU, saying that LSU’s offense just wasn’t the right fit for him. Well, after visiting with the Tigers yesterday, he tweeted that he has a new top three of Miami LSU, and Alabama. That’s obviously great news, as Smith is a four-star receiver and the No. 2 overall player on our list of Top LA Prospects.
Also on the recruiting front, Class of 2017 Rivals 250 linebacker and four-star prospect Jacob Phillips announced his final five schools yesterday, and LSU was included on that list along with Alabama, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Oregon. Phillips is quoted as saying LSU is high on his list because of defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, noting that Aranda is changing LSU’s defense and that he feels he fits well in his 3-4 scheme. Those comments indicate the Tigers have a very strong chance of luring the Nashville, Tennessee native, and that’s great news considering what a priority linebackers are in this recruiting class. The Tigers currently only have one 2017 LB on board, instate sensation Patrick Queen (6-1, 215) of Livonia.
Before continuing our countdown to LSU’s season opener, we are going to begin a new series today on returning Tigers who will likely play greater roles this season, starting with the offense. Although the Tigers return nine starters on offense, there are some key backups and new starters who will play critical roles in 2016. One is senior offensive lineman Josh Boutte, who played just 75 offensive snaps as a junior in 2015. At SEC media days, head coach Les Miles noted that Boutte, who is currently projected to start at right guard, may be one of the more dominant players they have. Another is sophomore wide receiver Tyron Johnson. Although the Tigers have two great receivers returning in senior Travin Dural and junior Malachi Dupré, Johnson (6’1”, 189 lbs), could be a significant contributor, especially in three-wide receiver sets. Johnson only had 150 receiving yards on nine receptions in 2015, but his two touchdowns came in the back half of the season, including a very nice 39-yard TD at Ole Miss that helped bring LSU back in that contest. Sophomore Toby Weathersby (6’5”, 292 lbs), who made his only start last season at Ole Miss, is likely the starter at right tackle, and junior KJ Malone (6’4”, 298), who is competing for starting positions at left tackle, left guard and center, could be LSU’s utility man across the offensive line who adds quality depth needed to impose the Tigers’ physical running game against the SEC’s premier defensive lines. One last offensive weapon LSU will rely heavily on in 2016 is redshirt junior fullback J.D. Moore, who was injured in LSU’s fifth game last year and made just one other brief appearance in 2015. In Moore’s five starts at fullback, Leonard Fournette totaled 1,022 yards on 119 carries, an average of 8.6 yards per carry. With Moore out for all but one of the final seven regular season games, Fournette totaled just 719 yards on 152 carries, an average of just 4.7 yards per carry. While the level of competition certainly was a factor in that decreased productivity, it’s clear that Moore was a huge factor in Fournette’s early season success, so it will be critical for him to remain healthy in 2016.
Stay tuned tomorrow as we’ll cover players on the defense who should play greater roles this upcoming season.
With 41 days remaining until LSU’s season opener vs Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on September 3rd, let’s look at one of LSU’s best wide receivers of all-time who wore No. 41, Eric Martin. A Van Vieck, Texas native, Martin was recruited as a running back by then head coach Jerry Stovall. As a freshman in 1981, he finished third on the team in rushing with 290 yards but also had an LSU record 100-yard kickoff return vs. Kentucky in a 24-10 victory in Baton Rouge. With a thin receiving corps coming back in 1982 and a star-studded running back tandem of Dalton Hilliard and Garry James arriving on campus, Stovall and then offensive coordinator Mack Brown decided to move Martin to wide receiver. Despite the change, Martin immediately flourished as a split end, catching 45 passes for 817 yards and seven touchdowns in helping lead LSU to an 8-3-1 season that included a dominating 55-21 victory over Florida State that locked up an invite to the 1983 Orange Bowl. Although LSU struggled to a 4-7 season in 1983, Martin excelled by catching 52 passes for a then school-record 1,064 receiving yards and five touchdowns while earning First-Team All American honors. The 1,064 receiving yards were the third-most in SEC history at that time. After a successful senior season in 1984 (47 receptions, 668 yards), Martin, a First-Team All-SEC selection for the second consecutive season, was selected in the seventh round of the 1985 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints. Despite naysayers noting Martin lacked speed to be a wide receiver (he was clocked at 4.65 in the 40-yard dash at a 1985 pre-draft workout), Eric’s determination overcame his supposed limitations and allowed him to enjoy a highly successful 10-year career (nine with the Saints and one with Kansas City) that resulted in 8,161 receiving yards, 49 touchdowns and a 1988 Pro Bowl. Martin also helped lead the Saints to their first playoff berth in 1987. Bobby Hebert, who starred as the New Orleans Saints quarterback from 1985-1992, may have said it best when he noted that Martin “knew his abilities and he had a lot of confidence in his abilities. If I put the ball anywhere around him, he was confident that that he would go and catch it.”
Today’s closing tidbits:
LSU men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones appeared on ESPN Radio recently to discuss the recent events in Baton Rouge on the podcast “Capital Games”, which is hosted by ESPN’s Andy Katz and Rick Klein of ABC News. You can listen to the full podcast here.
Here’s a cool video of two current LSU wide receivers, DJ Chark and Drake Davis, racing during LSU’s camp. Chark edges Davis by half a step, and considering Chark is said to be the team’s fastest player, this proves that Davis has elite speed as well.
I’ll leave you today with a couple of good articles to go along with your Sunday Morning coffee, and an update on my family fishing trip as lagniappe.
• Dale Brown to have basketball courts named after him in his North Dakota hometown.
• Back at home: About to embark on his third NFL season, Jarvis Landry returns to Lutcher to give back
Lagniappe: I took my three daughters, my wife and my in-laws out to my favorite creek yesterday afternoon to do a little fishing. We had a great time while catching several small perch to use as bait for that elusive catfish I’ve mentioned lately. I was able to bait up five set poles (bank lines) which I’ll run in a few minutes even though I’m not feeling very confident based on the water level. I am, however, confident in being able to land several more bass after catching six (see pic) in less than an hour of fishing late yesterday evening after the poles were set. With any luck, I’ll have another pic or two to post tomorrow. Wish me luck, and enjoy your Sunday, Tiger Fans.