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2/9/19 5:30 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
First, I want to thank all of you who voted in our poll asking, “Which incoming LSU football signee(s) will make the biggest impact in the 2019 season?” With over 14,000 votes cast, the top six vote-getters are clear, and they’re a very impressive group. The half dozen includes the top player in the nation, four players who rank No. 2 nationally at their positions, and the state of Utah’s No. 1 player. Here’s how it breaks down: CB Derek Stingley, Jr. (29.5%), RB John Emery (25.8%), K Cade York (12%), OG Kardell Thomas (5.9%), DT Siaki Ika (4.82%), and LB Marcel Brooks (4.8%). In today’s report, we’ll begin a series in which we briefly profile these six Tigers, starting with Stingley. Here we go…
Derek Stingley, Jr.
CB, 6'1", 193, Dunham School
(First in our poll with 29.6% of the votes)
If LSU’s bowl practices are any indication of the immediate impact Derek Stingley, Jr. will have with this program, then it’s easy to see why he was the top vote-getter. If you’ll recall, Stingley took advantage of a rarely used NCAA rule that allowed him to take part in bowl game practices, and drew rave reviews from the coaches. Ed Orgeron said that had Stingley been eligible to play in the game, he would have been LSU’s best cornerback and one of the best players on the field. That gives us a ton of confidence that Stingley will quickly fill the void Greedy Williams left as a lockdown corner opposite of Kristian Fulton. Of course, his high school highlights and elite status as the nation’s top prospect gave us plenty of reasons to be confident already.
Stingley is one of five talented defensive backs signed in this year’s class – along with Raydarius Jones, Jay Ward, Cordale Flott, and Maurice Hampton – but will undoubtedly be the face of this group. In Stingley, the Tigers get a flexible corner with fluid movement, great anticipation, and the toughness needed to make tackles in the open field. They also get an athletic freak with the ball skills, speed, and athleticism needed to electrify LSU’s return game. Don’t be surprised to see this youngster wearing No. 7 sooner rather than later.
By the way, Stingley also excels in the classroom and earned Academic All-State honors while at Dunham School in Baton Rouge.
RB John Emery
5'11" 202, Destrehan High School, RB
(Second in our poll with 25.7% of the vote.)
Well, LSU’s lack of elite star power in the backfield sure didn’t last long. We discussed the Tigers’ running backs quite heavily last offseason because we hadn’t had a year without a Heisman contender at the position in quite some time. Now with two incredible running backs in this class, LSU’s backfield is once again in a familiar position. While Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire did a very commendable job last season, LSU’s rushing attack had a drop in production. The Tigers rushed for nearly 450 yards less in 2018 than they did in 2017 and approximately 550 less than the 2016 season. There were many factors involved, including LSU’s increased emphasis on the passing game, but the most obvious reason for the drop in production was the departures of Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice. Will John Emery and Tyrion Davis be a Tiger duo like that one? LSU fans have reason to hope since both are rated as top-10 backs nationally.
Emery drew more than a fourth of the votes in our poll, and a big reason for that is his recruiting rankings. The Destrehan running back has a 99 ranking and is a composite 5-Star on 247 Sports. He is ESPN’s top running back in the country and is No. 11 on the ESPN 300. What makes Emery special is his acceleration at the second level. Like all great backs, he doesn’t waste any lateral movement. He gets north, builds momentum, and uses it to finish off runs. In other words, he’s a special back who will make plenty more highlights like these but in an LSU Tiger uniform.
Stay tuned for more on our impact freshmen series.
Turning to basketball, the LSU men’s team has been awfully fun to watch and seems to have more lives than a cat, but the Tigers can’t press their luck against an extremely good Auburn basketball team this afternoon. LSU and Auburn will tip off from the PMAC at 1 p.m. on ESPN2, and if LSU wants to make it two SEC victories in a row against former Top 25 squads, the Bayou Bengals will need to avoid that second-half lull that has created these double-digit deficit comebacks. It’s almost like this LSU team knows it’s talented enough to make late runs and make enough plays down the stretch to win these games, but that may not be the case against an Auburn squad that features one of the best backcourts in the country. Bryce Brown and Jared Harper combine to average more than 32 points per contest this season. It shouldn’t surprise you that Auburn tops the league in 3-point field goal percentage (37.4%), while LSU has fallen to 12th in the conference (32.7%) after dramatically cooling off recently. LSU shot 28 percent or less from behind the arc in each of its last five games. The good thing is that LSU has been able to overcome it for the most part (with Arkansas being the lone exception), but if Auburn starts draining outside shots like it typically does, it’s going to put even more pressure on LSU’s players to convert from the perimeter. And though the Auburn Tigers have a couple of conference losses, they’ve been on a roll as of late. Auburn crushed Missouri by 34 points, dismantled Alabama by 21, and beat Florida by 14 last Tuesday. Let’s see if (18-4) LSU can knock down outside shots and avoid that second-half lull against a dangerous Auburn squad this afternoon.
With the start of baseball season just six days away, it’s time to conclude the two-part Q&A with LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri we began posting yesterday. In this segment, Mainieri discusses the catcher’s position, what it means to have Chris Reid back on the team, and his propensity to advance runners via the hit-and-run in situations where many coaches would bunt instead. Give it a quick read and let me know what you think.
In softball news, LSU has played three games and has won each of them in five innings. Yesterday, the Tigers followed up a dominating 19-1 season-opener with a 9-0 win over Iowa and an 11-0 win over Tulsa. In case you didn’t catch that, the Tigers have out-scored opponents 39-1 through three games. Heck of a start for this Tiger team.
Speaking of strong starts, hats off to LSU freshman Shelby Wickersham, the daughter of former LSU quarterback Jeff Wickersham. She threw a no-hitter vs. Iowa in her collegiate debut.
LSU softball continues today, with LSU taking on Iowa at 3:30 p.m. and Bucknell at 6 p.m. in the Tiger Classic. The games will stream live on SECN+.
Lastly, I was sad to see that No. 5 LSU gymnastics lost on the road to No. 17 Kentucky last night, 197.150-196.025. With the loss, LSU is now 3-3 overall and 1-3 in the SEC. A positive from the night was senior Sarah Finnegan winning beam and floor. Up next, LSU begins a double-meet weekend in St. Charles, Missouri, on Friday at the GymQuarters Invitational. The Tigers then return to Baton Rouge to take on SEC foe Missouri at 2:30 p.m. Sunday inside the Maravich Center.
Have a great weekend, Tiger Fans.
2/8/19 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
First of all, it was great hearing from so many of you yesterday about our grades by position of LSU’s 2019 signing class. As we do each year after Signing Day, today we’ll conduct a poll asking you to predict which incoming LSU football signees will make the biggest impact in 2019. Yesterday I reviewed last year’s poll and was reminded of how hard these things are to predict. The top-five in that poll were WR Terrace Marshall (21.4%), OL Badara Traore (20.4%), K Cole Tracy (11.9%), CB Kelvin Joseph (11.7%), Ja’Marr Chase (11.5%) and RB Chris Curry (7.8%). For today’s poll, you can select as many impact players as you’d like, but you can only cast your ballot once.
Believe it or not, but LSU baseball begins one week from today. That makes this an ideal time to begin sharing a Q&A I conducted with head baseball coach Paul Mainieri on Tuesday of this week. Actually, that statement isn’t true. The ideal time to to share it would have been right after I conducted it, because now, nearly three days later, some of the info is dated. For example, the first thing I asked about was the health of starting pitcher Zach Hess. At that time, Mainieri said Hess would likely not throw until today. The good news is that Mainieri confirmed to me yesterday that Hess has thrown already and that everything went well. He should be good to go for the opener but probably will be limited to three innings max, unless he had really quick innings. His pitch count will probably be limited to about 50 pitches.
So, with the status of Hess already addressed, the first installment of the Q&A begins with a few thoughts on sophomore Eric Walker and a trio of freshmen right-handed starters who will be exciting to watch, on a deep and hard-throwing bullpen, and on a Tiger offense that has some pop in its bat but was a step behind the pitching staff at the time of my interview. Mainieri also dishes on a batting order that looks a good bit different than it did at the start of preseason practice, and much more. Click the link below to read Part 1 and then tune in tomorrow for Mainieri’s thoughts what it means to have Chris Reid back on the team, on Mainieri’s propensity to utilize the “hit-and-run” in situations where many coaches would bunt instead, and more.
Sticking to the topic of baseball, congratulations are in order for LSU senior outfielder Antoine Duplantis and sophomore outfielder Daniel Cabrera who were named Thursday to the 2019 Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team. Both players were second-team All-SEC selections. The coaches selected LSU as the favorite to win the SEC Western Division title, and the Tigers finished second behind Vanderbilt as the coaches’ choice to win the overall league title. Here’s the full press release by LSUSports.net, which includes the entire preseason poll and All-SEC teams.
Talk about letting something sneak up on you… the No. 11/10 LSU softball team began its season last night with a 19-1 run-rule win over Tulsa. I didn’t get a chance to catch the game, but I did follow a bit on Twitter and saw that the Tigers came out swinging and jumped out to a 12-1 lead in the first inning. They kept the onslaught going with six more runs in the second and another in the third, en route to the program’s most runs ever in a season opener. Now that’s how you start a season! For a full recap of the win, see this article on LSUSports.net. The Tigers will play four more games this week as part of the annual Tiger Classic, and all four will be streamed online via SECNetwork+.
Weekend Softball Schedule:
LSU vs. Tulsa, Feb. 7, 6 p.m., SEC Network+
LSU vs. Iowa, Feb. 8, 3:30 p.m., SEC Network+
LSU vs. Tulsa, Feb. 8, 6 p.m., SEC Network+
LSU vs. Iowa, Feb. 9, 3:30 p.m., SEC Network+
LSU vs. Bucknell, Feb. 9, 6 p.m., SEC Network+
LSU vs. Bucknell, Feb. 10, 11 a.m., SEC Network+
Today’s Closing Tidbits:
• In women’s basketball, the LSU Lady Tigers came away with a blowout win over Arkansas last night, 71-34. Here’s The Advocate’s recap of a dominant win which improved LSU to 14-8 and 5-5 in SEC play. The Lady Tigers now find themselves in a three-way tie for sixth in the SEC with Auburn and Arkansas (16-8, 5-5).
• The fifth-ranked LSU gymnastics team (3-2, 1-2 SEC) travels to Lexington to take on No. 17 Kentucky (3-4, 1-2 SEC) tonight at 7:30 p.m. CT. The meet will be televised on the SEC Network.
Lastly, two friendly reminders:
• Don’t forget to vote in our annual poll asking “Which incoming LSU football signee(s) will make the biggest impact in the 2019 season?”
• Be sure to tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of my Q&A with Coach Paul Mainieri.
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.