Biggest Needs: The Tigers went 13-1 in 2011 with an appearance in the BCS National Championship game, and most believe that the 2012 team has more talent than last year’s team. Last year there was a constant battle between Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee at QB. With both Jefferson and Lee graduating, there will be no QB controversy, because JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger will be taking over the starting job. WR Rueben Randle elected to leave early for the NFL draft, but Odell Beckham Jr. seems to be the next great receiver at LSU. They lose four seniors off the two-deep depth chart on the offensive line, and that includes OG Will Blackwell and OG Josh Dworaczyk. When you add in the loss of TE Deangelo Peterson, there are going to be a lot of holes up front to fill.
LSU fans are used to a defensive line that is constantly rotating quality guys in and out, and while that will continue in 2012, they will have to replace a few great players. DE Kendrick Adams is a tough loss, as well as DT Michael Brockers’ early departure to the NFL. Brockers and Adams accounted for over 15 tackles for loss, but with Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo returning up front, everything will be fine. LSU loses three linebackers, with Ryan Baker being by far the biggest loss at LB. Baker was fourth on the team in tackles with 64. Safety Brandon Taylor is the lone loss at DB, and I think there are already guys on campus ready to step in and be starters in 2012.
Needs Met: For a team that has so much talent on campus already, LSU didn’t need to sign much to be successful next year. However, LSU added great players that could help them reach the top in 2012. The Tigers began replacing depth on the offensive line by signing four guys up front. OG Vadal Alexander is a steal out of Georgia that will probably break the two-deep depth chart quickly. Offensive tackle Derrick Edinburg is a giant at 6’8” 320lbs that could have a long career guarding the blind side. The Tigers also signed QB Jeremy Liggins, who at 6’3” 270lbs draws comparisons to former Kentucky QB Jared Lorenzen. Lorenzen was called the “Battleship” in college, so who knows what nicknames Tiger fans will come up with for Liggins. The Tigers signed three WR’s, with Beaux Bridge, LA, teammates Travin Dural and Kavahra Holmes being two quality in-state prospects.
Defensively the Tigers signed five linebackers, and I think that LB Kwon Alexander is a great get from the state of Alabama. Alexander has great closing speed that will fit well in John Chavis’ defense, but don’t sleep on Lorenzo Phillips who also has the talent to contribute early on. LSU also signed five defensive backs that will have time to learn from some of the best already on campus, but CB Dwayne Thomas could see time as a true freshman. Another defensive back that I am interested to watch is CB Derrick Raymond. Raymond didn’t receive a lot of fanfare, but don’t be shocked to see him contribute in some capacity next year. While LSU didn’t sign any defensive linemen in this class, don’t be surprised to see guys like Lamar Louis or Trey Granier play with their hand down at some point in their careers. Both Louis and Granier fit the Sam Montgomery mold of a speed-rush defensive end.
Biggest Get: Kwon Alexander. Alexander is a LB out of Oxford, AL, and for the Tigers to pull Alexander out of Alabama is a huge steal.
Biggest Miss: Landon Collins. Alabama snagged the best safety in the country out of Louisiana, and I know that LSU fans hate losing a talented in-state guy to the Crimson Tide.
Final Evaluation: LSU is going to be stacked next year, and this class only adds to the depth and talent that was already on campus. In my mind, this class gives LSU exactly what they need for another title run in 2012.
Final Grade: A-