Tag:Jordan Jefferson
Posted on: February 20, 2012 5:12 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 5:39 pm
 

Monday Mailbag - Sooners, Aggies and Davonte Neal



Posted by Bryan Fischer


Starting a new feature on the blog as the recruiting season picks up and spring ball starts across the country: The Monday Mailbag. My colleague Bruce Feldman runs a similar feature on Friday that is a must-read but there are plenty of questions out there that need answering and, well, I'm here to answer them since college football is very much a 24/7/365 sport nowadays. So without further ado, let the smorgasbord of questions commence.
Great start to the mailbag because it's a chance to bring up Dennis Dodd and Brett McMurphy's early top 25 ballots. I'm sure there's some griping from plenty of fans about how both have the order but I pretty much see eye-to-eye on most of the picks. To answer the question, I see a few teams that are a tad over-hyped going into next year, starting with Oklahoma, especially at number three overall. Are they top-10 worthy? Absolutely with 15 starters coming back and quarterback Landry Jones among them. But the way they struggled down the stretch last season was worrisome, especially with the injuries to Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles and how the offense just wasn't the same. I'm guessing the coaching staff will put more emphasis on spreading the ball around and hope for a boost in the run game with all of the tailbacks healthy to provide more consistency. Don't discount the loss of defensive coordinator Brent Venables either, the guys were not around for when Mike Stoops was and he didn't recruit them so it will take a little time to develop some chemistry. With plenty of time to study it, I don't think the 'Belldozer' package will be as effective as it was in 2011 unless there's more passing to keep defenses honest.

One other factor that should be noted is it'll be a tough Big 12 this year with newcomers TCU and West Virginia both having good teams on top of rival Texas taking what should be a step forward this year. It's possible the Sooners have a better team than last year but doesn't mean they'll be able to take advantage. I also expect several of the incoming recruits to see extended playing time, especially among the tight ends and receivers (I'd guess Taylor McNamara and Durron Neal for sure) Stoops signed.

A few others that are a tad over-hyped: Wisconsin, Florida, Oklahoma State and Notre Dame. Under appreciated? You're looking at TCU, Kansas State, Nebraska and South Carolina.
Great timing for this question considering what the Aggies did on the recruiting trail over the weekend. Seven commitments is an impressive number and pushes the program to a nation's best 13 total commitments for the class of 2013. After already grabbing a top 15 class with the group they just signed, Kevin Sumlin and his staff have certainly hit the ground running. It helps tremendously that several of the coaches came over from Houston and had already been evaluating some of these recruits and developed a prior relationship. One of the things that I got when talking with Sumlin last month was that he certainly would make it a point to sell the fact that A&M was the only SEC program in the state. While Texas will almost always have the pick of the litter when it comes to in-state guys, you can tell recruits going forward will give a longer look at playing in College Station because of that. With the 2013 class, they have two excellent offensive linemen who are two of the top five or ten guys along the line in the state and they have a handful of speedy playmakers on both sides of the ball committed as well. Bottom line is that the program has jumped out to a big start and probably should be able to hold on and better what they did on Signing Day in 2012.

Darrell, surely you know by now not to go against the great Les Miles. The Mad Hatter had a great team last year that went through a lot off the field that some people forget. I think the national title game helped, in some respects, prepare this team for 2012 because it tempered expectations a little and also gave them a reason for the team to think, 'it's us vs. them,' in some respect.

I'm like most writers and have LSU #1 based on what they return and disagree that they lose "key" players so that prohibits them from taking the top spot in the preseason. It could be, for example, a positive that the rotation of Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson is over and the Tigers stick with talented transfer Zach Mettenberger, who many expect to grab hold of the job this spring.

LSU returns only five starters on defense but they rotated so many players in last season that I don't think it will be an issue for them as younger players like Anthony Johnson get more snaps. Incoming freshmen like Avery Johnson - Patrick Peterson's younger brother mind you - should be able to contribute early on special teams and offense to complement the strong run game the team should have. The national championship game really colored a lot of people's opinion of LSU the wrong way and it's sometimes good to remember that there's a lot of talent on this squad.
Neal is referring to Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal, who will be committing to a school Tuesday morning. His recruitment has been an interesting one, not only waiting nearly a month after Signing Day to pick but because of all the twists and turns he's taken. First off, he's a dynamic playmaker who is built to be a slot guy in a spread offense and get the ball in space. He's also a solid cornerback and should play early on special teams no matter what - there's a reason he's a top 100 player in the class of 2012.

Neal is quiet and it was like pulling teeth for a while to get him to mention a school he had interest in before his senior season ended. He's taken a lot of recent official visits and most have him picking between Notre Dame, Arizona and Arkansas tomorrow. I've heard good things about Notre Dame in this case but I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up staying close to home and picking Arizona either. His high school head coach was recently hired there and family is very important to Neal so there are definite draws for the Wildcats. Old CBS Sports pal Rich Rodriguez no doubt told the 5-foot-9, 170-pounder how well he'd fit in the offense down in Tuscon too. I'll stick with a cautious prediction of Neal going to South Bend but I would be surprised for him to state in-state either.

That will wrap things up for the first Monday Mailbag, plenty of others to come in the weeks and months ahead. Tweet your questions to me at @BryanDFischer on Twitter and I'll try and answer as many as I can.

Posted on: January 16, 2012 8:43 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 1:34 am
 

Where in the world is Gunner Kiel landing?

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Well, I waited before posting something given how fluid the situation is (which, I guess, easily applies to recruiting in general the next few weeks) but a quick update as Monday evening rolls around.

This afternoon TigerSportsDigest.com reported that a source informed them that recent commit and Maxpreps' #2 overall player Gunner Kiel was not in attendance for an early enrollee meeting at LSU ahead of classes starting Tuesday. This was followed by several reports coming out of Notre Dame saying that Kiel could be headed to South Bend, including IrishIllustrated.com and 247Sports' Steve Wiltfong, who is close to the family.

Attempts to reach Kiel were unsuccessful and sources on both sides didn't provide any information on what might be happening.

Obviously this is just another recruiting drama to follow one of the country's top ranked players (think Terrelle Pryor or Jadeveon Clowney in just the past few years). Kiel seemed solidly committed following a so-so performance at the Army All-American Bowl two weeks ago.

"The SEC is just like the NFL," Kiel told CBSSports.com. "It's going to be hard and I know it's going to hard and I have to make a lot of improvements.

"But it is a perfect time for me to go (to LSU) and compete. With Jordan (Jefferson) and Jarrett (Lee) both seniors and leaving it's a perfect time to go and battle for a spot. Baton Rouge is a beautiful place and the people there are so nice, it's like a big family there. It's awesome."

Kiel also briefly mentioned a good relationship with quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe and how hard LSU recruited him despite his commitment to Indiana. All of it seems... interesting in retrospect but we'll see what happens in the next 24 hours. The signal-caller does have time to make up his mind as to where he wants to enroll early but if he does it is notable that he's already cost the Tigers one recruit in offensive tackle Patrick Miller, who surprisingly enrolled at Auburn after there was no room for him in Baton Rouge.

So basically, something's up but nobody knows exactly what is going on - including several coaches. Got it? Get it. Good. That's how recruiting - especially around top five recruits - seems to go this time of year. If there is an update, check back on the Eye on Recruiting.

Otherwise, Where in the World is Gunner Kiel resumes tomorrow.

UPDATE: The Observer has confirmed that Kiel will head to Notre Dame.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 6:38 pm
 

Examining LSU's recruiting class

Posted by Bryan Fischer

In case you haven't heard there is a, well, epic match up on CBS this week between Alabama and LSU in Tuscaloosa. As part of extensive coverage of both teams on CBSSports.com and CBS Sports Network, the Eye on Recruiting will be breaking down the biggest reason each team is thinking BCS national championship this year: the players they are recruiting.

Today we'll take a look at what Les Miles is doing on the trail. The Tigers currently have 20 commitments for the class of 2012.

Team Ranking: 6th overall, 3rd in the SEC
Number of recruits: 20
Number of five-stars: Zero. Three four-star recruits.
Best position:
Offensive line. Vadal Alexander, Derek Edinburgh, Reid Ferguson, Patrick Miller.
Weakest position:
Quarterback, zero commitments.
Top recruit:
#54 Vadal Alexander (left)
Sleeper:
Defensive end Danielle Hunter.
Top target:
#9 overall recruit Landon Collins.

Under Nick Saban a few years ago and now under Miles, LSU has consistently been near the top of the SEC and overall team recruiting rankings. Though they have rarely landed the top overall class in the country, they have done a great job of locking up every good player in the state of Louisiana and then hand-picking talent from Texas and the rest of the South to put together a strong run on the recruiting trail. In fact, there may not be a more consistent program in the country than the Tigers over the past decade, thanks in large part to a great talent base that has consistently churned out quality SEC and eventual NFL players year after year.

This year's class is really build around both lines with a handful of skill position talent that should be able to redshirt and develop given the youth already present on the team. Alexander is the top player and could be either a guard or a tackle while Miller is a prototypical left tackle that only needs to pack on a few pounds before he can jump in and play. On the defensive side, Torshiro Davis is a lightning quick speed rusher at outside linebacker/defensive end while Hunter is someone who isn't a highly rated guy but can develop like so many great defensive linemen have in Baton Rouge. Others, such as corner Jalen Mills, could contribute early on special teams while learning from the veterans ahead of them.

The one glaring need for this class is probably at quarterback. Though two signal-callers signed last year, the Tigers will be losing two seniors in Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. A lot of players have already committed so LSU might look at taking a chance on someone under-the-radar knowing they'll likely redshirt with two players in front of them. They will also target another couple of players on defense.

Two priorities for Miles' staff are first and foremost keeping their current group together through Signing Day and landing in-state defensive back Landon Collins. One player who is openly looking around is Avery Johnson, younger brother of LSU all-everything Patrick Peterson. It's no surprise that he has plenty of programs recruiting him given who he's related to but Johnson is a dynamic receiver who can fit in just about any offense and make plays. While it wouldn't be shocking if Johnson ended up closer to home, it would be big news if Collins went anywhere but up the road a few miles to Baton Rouge. The staff should be busy working on those two as they find another player or two to fill out their class between now and February.

When the purple and gold walk out onto the field in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, they won't be at a talent disadvantage with Miles' keen eye for recruiting and developing SEC players. He's got another great group coming his way in 2012 in what should continue to be one of the biggest games in the SEC West, SEC and nationally for years to come.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com