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DandyDon.com chats with Mike Detillier about LSU and Recruiting
Scott: Mike, What's your opinion of Duke Riley, the latest commitment to LSU? I know you have seen him play a lot and have heard you talk about him highly.
Mike: Scott, I really like him a lot. Not sure if he will play strong safety or weakside linebacker, but he is a striker, very instinctive, very fast to the break point as a defender and once he gets stronger and physically grows into that frame more he has a chance to be a really good college starter.
He reminds me a little of Curtis Taylor, who played safety for LSU and is now with the 49ers. Curtis played a lot of quarterback in high school, then played wide receiver and he played in the secondary on defense.
Some college teams projected him as a weakside linebacker and he ended up being a very good college strong safety. We will have to see with Duke does he grow into that weakside spot or does he play the strong safety spot. He has the reverse skills to play in the secondary, no question about that and while his strength has been up the field and his strike capability, he also can throw that body quickly in reverse and read and react well to the ball in flight.
Just think about this, John Curtis is one of the best teams in high school and he racked up almost 100 tackles this past season and over 360 in a career. Judge defenders especially linebackers on tackle production. He has those skills and he is aggressive and smart on reacting to what is breaking down in front of him and working around heavy traffic. He will need some work, foot work wise, in coverage situations, but he is a good player and it was the right thing not to let him leave the state. I know some SEC teams and TCU loved him as a weakside linebacker, but I could certainly see him play strong safety.
Scott: Give me your top five players in this recruiting class on offense for LSU.
Mike: OK, Hayden Rettig, the quarterback from California. Smart, accurate throwing from the pocket, he has quick feet and a quick set-up from the pocket and the move position and his high school coaches praise him for his leadership and poise.
DeSean Smith, the tight end from Barbe High School. Best tight end I have seen in the state in over 10 years. Great length, tremendous eye-hand coordination, has the speed and moves to break free downfield and he is a good runner after the catch. LSU has to change their offense and incorporate the tight end much more, Passing game wise, just because of him. He looks like one of those NFL tight ends that are just so athletic and safeties and linebackers will have trouble covering him.
Ethan Pocic, the offensive tackle from Illinois. I am scouting his older brother who is a senior center at Illinois and he is bigger, quicker, has a bigger frame and those long arms and quick feet you love to see in a left tackle. He's a good technician and it is his quick set-up and adjustments to the defensive ends that jump out at you. He needs to get stronger and learn to play with a little lower base, but he is a tremendous left tackle prospect.
John Diarse, the former prep quarterback, who is projected to play wide receiver. I really like the former Neville High School quarterback. He will make that transition pretty well from QB to college receiver and he is similar to Early Doucet in many ways. He's fast, shifty, can make people miss in space and he has good eye-hand coordination. Like all prep players he will need to get stronger and learn how to run more precise routes, but he has great talent and he is just so gifted after the catch. The other thing will be his ability to catch that bubble screen as a receiver and also his skills as a runner, and so I would have him involved with the reverse plays and gadget plays as a passer too. Can't wait to see him.
Quantavious Leslie... Junior college young man with excellent size, very good pullaway skills and he has that unique ability to time his leaps just right to make the tough catch in traffic. He isn't the guy a lot of people are talking about, but he is awfully talented and I love a big receiver with speed and the ability to make something out of really nothing. Hopefully he can get his academic issue straightened out.
The other young man that I would have to throw in there is Andy Dodd, the projected center from Georgia. He has good size, plays with good techniques, strong player at the point of attack and smart. He has to make those line calls and this team in the future needs a vocal guy upfront. Like what T-Bob Hebert and Will Blackwell were to make those calls, be a leader and get on their teammates and also encourage them when things are just not correct. Sometimes you listen better to your teammates than your coaches and this team needs a take-charge guy along the offensive line. Really, it is a part of this game that goes untalked about in that area. Look what Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack brought to the table the last two years at Alabama. Both vocal, both leaders and both guys that you respected as players and also leaders to make sure they played hard as a unit. And both were very vocal to get their point across to their teammates.
Scott: On defense, Mike, your best players in this class?
Mike: Mike, Whoa, that will be much tougher because there is more than five, but right off the bat it would be Kendal Beckwith. Tremendous athlete with excellent up the field skills and very good closing speed to the QB. He will grow into that frame more and become stronger, but you can't teach his skillset to get up the field in a flash and then close in on the ballcarrier or quarterback. He has pretty good hand usage to disengage from a blocker, but he is tremendously gifted and a very good edge pass rusher as a defensive end or standup outside linebacker.
Greg Gilmore, the defensive tackle from South View, North Carolina. He reminds me so much of a younger version of Darnell Dockett when he was at Florida State and he has been an excellent pro player with the Arizona Cardinals. Good size in the middle, really good interior pass rusher, strong at the point of attack and he plays with good leverage skills. I think he has a chance to contribute as a true freshman.
Maquedious Bain from Florida. I think he has the biggest upside of any defensive player in this recruiting class. He is tremendously gifted athletically, he has good track down skills and instincts. It's his ability to move his feet and get that big body moving so quickly that is so impressive. Bain also has very good interior pass rush potential. Man, he is some talented. Let's see how fast they can get him up to college speed on the technical side and also upgrade his ability to get off of a blocker in a quicker manner.
Jeryl Brazil from Loranger and I would have to include Tre'Davious White from Green Oaks in this spot. Both tremendous athletes, quick footed, can throw their bodies in reverse fast and they plant and drive hard to the ball. But what has them a cut above the rest is their ability to play the ball in flight. They both are very fast and have good make-up speed, but what makes a good cornerback at the college and pro level is judging the ball correctly in flight and both have the potential to excel in that category.
Frank Herron, the defensive end from Tennessee. Great length as a player, long, real lean body, quick off the snap and he has excellent closing speed. Just knows how to use his hands so well and he has a red hot motor. He has a chance to be special in the SEC. He is very similar to Sam Montgomery and to be honest he is a better technician than Sam was coming out of high school.
That is tough because I left out Rickey Jefferson-who I think will be an excellent football player at cornerback and in the return game. I love Melvin Jones. I think he will play defensive end at the college level and be a real good player at that spot and cornerback Rashard Robinson from Florida is a very good prospect also. I know they have lost a lot early to the NFL, but John Chavis has to love what they are bringing in to him and certainly what he has left over from the best linebacker recruiting class ever at LSU last season.
Now, they need to fix the offense, especially in the passing game side and develop quarterbacks better.
Scott: Getting to that, is Zach Mettenberger the key this season and maybe one other player on offense to their success?
Mike: No question it's Zach. Zach has the skills and we have seen him flash it, but he's so inconsistent and looks great against Alabama, but struggles in other games. He has to develop better pocket presence and also move his feet better in and outside the pocket. This is not junior college football and you can't get away with that. He has good rapport with Jarvis Landry, that is evident, but as a staff you have to play to his strengths and that is to get the backs and tight ends much more involved in the short passing game area of the field and work more on his set-up skills, foot work and getting quicker reads of coverages downfield. Sometimes he just wants the homerun ball and he has to understand he has to take a single hit from time to time to keep the chains moving.
On offense other than Zach it is to replace Josh at left tackle and not have Chris Faulk there. You and I talked about this at the Recruiting Bash last year that I really like Jerald Hawkins. He looks like a pro style left tackle. Very gifted athlete, he moves his feet well, quick to adjust and he has a wingspan like a big condor. He needed to get stronger and he needs a strong spring, but his development is key upfront. Jerald has a chance to be an impact player at left tackle like La'el Collins is at left guard. He just needs some experience and develop a better power game.
Scott: Mike, what about on defense?
Mike: You need a new leader and it is Lamin Barrow. I would put him in the middle and you wouldn't miss a beat. Kevin Minter was an All-American player for LSU last season and I put Lamin in that same category. He was the most underrated player on that LSU team last season. He's smart, instinctive, quick to read and react and he gets up the field in a flash and he can get around the football impact zone very well. I am telling you now, barring an injury, he is a 1st team All-SEC player in 2013. He is also better than Minter dropping back in coverage and while not as physical at the point of attack as Kevin, he is very good at that point. I really am impressed with Lamin.
It is just the development of the young defensive line that is key. You don't have guys with a lot on the rÃ©sumÃ©, especially at defensive end. I like the skillset of Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson, and the coaches have raved about Quinten Thomas, but it is at defensive end that is the main concern. Not a lot of experience there and that is the spot that a freshman can become part of the rotation LSU loves to use.
Scott: Will Jeremy Hill come out early for the draft after this season?
Mike: Scott, if he plays anything like he did this season, the answer is yes, and with Alfred Blue a senior, it clears the backfield for a true freshman to take over and you can guess who that is. For Jeremy, I think if he plays close to what he did in 2012 in 2013, he will come out early. He's such a load as a physical runner and yet he has the speed to break the long runs. He certainly looks a lot like Cecil Collins did at LSU out on the field.
Scott: Mike, I know it is early, sort of speak, but you do a lot of work in the prep ranks also, you kinda hide of the radar with that part of scouting, but many teams and coaches consult with you, so give me your top 12 for the Class of 2014.
1. Leonard Fournette-Halfback St. Augustine
2. Gerald Willis-Defensive End Edna Karr
3. Cameron Robinson-Offensive Tackle West Monroe
4. Trey Quinn-Wide Receiver Barbe
5. Hootie Jones-Safety/Cornerback Neville
6. Speedy Noil- Wide Receiver/Athlete Edna Karr
7. Cameron Sims-Wide Receiver Ouachita
8. Jacory Washington-Tight End Westlake
9. William Clapp-Offensive Guard Brother Martin
10. Malachi Dupre-Wide Receiver John Curtis
11. Kenny Young-Outside Linebacker John Curtis
12. Ricky Gibson-Safety Marksville
Scott: You talked about Lamin Barrow, but who was the most underrated offensive player last season for LSU?
Mike: Well, It goes to either Trai Turner or Vadal Alexander and I would go with Alexander. I know he struggled against Clemson, but we are talking about a true freshman who stepped in and for the most part did a very good job at right tackle. It's a huge jump and you are playing against the toughest competition in college football and at 18 years old. I thought he held up pretty well and so did Trai as a redshirt freshman. I know people will say he got beat like a drum at times against Clemson, and he did, but he played well this season as a true freshman and I really like his upside as a player and no one expected he would have to not only play, but start. You can't judge a player on one game, just like your boss can't judge you on one day at work. Vadal will be an all SEC performer real fast. The other player I would have to say is fullback J.C. Copeland. He is the best fullback in college football. That says enough. J.C. is a tremendous football player.
Scott: Is Robert Nkemdiche a better player, potential wise, as Jadeveon Clowney was coming out of high school?
Mike: No he isn't, but who is. Clowney was the best prep defensive end I have ever seen. He's a notch below, but he has great take-off speed, he really knows how to use his arms and hands to get off of blockers and he has good counter moves. Clowney had the power-set at the point of attack that Robert does not quite have yet as a player. He's strong, but Jadeveon looked like a man out on the field playing against young boys.
But let me say this Nkemdiche is a really great prospect, but we are comparing him to a defensive end that you see once every ten to twelve years and that is a tough comparison to make. Both have and had length and speed and tremendous pass rush skills
at the prep level, but Jadeveon's power skills were better and just look at how he takes over games today. He would be the consensus top pick in the 2013 draft as a sophomore, if he was eligible.
Clowney is like Julius Peppers was coming out of North Carolina, only better as a technician and more football skilled. Peppers had more upside than any defensive end coming out of college that I have scouted in the past 15 years. Robert reminds me a lot of Mario Williams coming out of North Carolina State. Similar type player, but Peppers is the better player today, because he has better power skills.
Mike Detillier, based in southern Louisiana, is editor and publisher of Mike Detillier's NFL Draft Report. He's also the college and pro football analyst for WWL 870 AM Radio in New Orleans, a sports columnist for several newspapers and Web sites, and a frequent guest on radio and television programs across the country. His website is mikedetillier.com.
This web site is not officially affiliated with Louisiana State University. Opinions expressed herein are the property of Donald Long, Scott Long and friends, not Louisiana State University.