Biggest Needs: Les Miles and LSU only lose three starters on offense heading into 2013. That’s great news considering they looked lost and inexperienced at times. Another offseason bodes well for their development. The biggest holes on offense are along the offensive line. Center PJ Lonergan, tackles Chris Faulk and Alex Hurst, and backup lineman Josh Dworaczyk are all gone. Faulk and Hurst missed most of ‘12, but their absence to start the season will be felt. Dworaczyk may not feel like a big loss, but his experience and versatility will be missed.
The defense, however, is a totally different animal. The Tigers have to replace seven starters from this unit, including three defensive linemen in Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo and Bennie Logan, middle linebacker Kevin Minter and two secondary stars in Eric Reid and Tharold Simon. Backup defensive end Lavar Edwards also graduated, and he played a key role throughout this season and his career. The Tigers lost 10 underclassmen to the NFL Draft, and six of those were starters on defense.
Needs Met: Miles signed the top OL class in the SEC, with four-stars Ethan Pocic, Josh Boutte and Andy Dodd, and three-stars Fehoko Fanaika and CJ Malone. Pocic is one of the most physical players in the country at tackle, and he’s an early enrollee who can provide instant depth and ability to a position of need. Miles also signed two four-star quarterbacks in Hayden Rettig and Anthony Jennings. Rettig is more of a traditional pocket passer, while Jennings is more of a dual-threat quarterback. That gives Miles and his staff options for the future, and we know Miles has been partial at times to dual-threat quarterbacks throughout his career.
LSU filled needs on defense by signing seven defensive linemen. The two of tackle Greg Gilmore and end Frank Herron should play immediately in ‘13. LSU also signed three defensive backs to help with the two lost starters. Five-star Tre’Davious White and four-star Jeryl Brazil are ready to compete at corner now, but the one position at which the Tigers didn’t ink a good prospect was safety. Miles rounded out the class by signing three linebackers after signing seven in 2012. The two of Kendell Beckwith and Melvin Jones will be future stars and could play immediately.
Biggest Get: The one player who should make an instant splash is freshman corner Tre’Davious White. Not only will White get a look on defense, but he’ll also make a strong push on special teams and could provide a jumpstart. He’s a very gifted player, much like the LSU corners we’ve grown accustomed to in recent history.
Biggest Miss: Tempe, Arizona, star safety Priest Willis was the Tigers’ biggest miss. Willis signed with UCLA. It came down to LSU and UCLA, and the Bruins won the battle.
Final Evaluation: It’s not easy to reload from such a mass exodus of underclassmen to the NFL. That just doesn’t happen. It’s not realistic to think this team is even in the top three in the SEC West heading into 2013 either. But as we’ve grown numb to it, LSU reloads with another star-studded class. The big three are OT Ethan Pocic, CB Tre’Davious White and DT Greg Gilmore. All three should help in at least providing an instant depth to much-needed positions. Sure, LSU didn’t land as many five-stars as we’ve seen in the past, but the 27 that signed are strong from top to bottom, eight of which are early enrollees.
Final Grade: A-
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