2014 Rundown: Defense

LSU has spanned the country for prospects on the defensive side of the ball. The Tigers appear to be in great shape for some elite prospects both out-of-state and at home in Louisiana. TSD's Hunter Paniagua takes a look at which defensive prospects are atop LSU's big board for the 2014 class.

DEFENSIVE END

LSU has made DE one of its primary positions of need in the 2014 class, as the staff has extended offers to 13 prospects projected to play that position. Though LSU hasn't landed any commitments yet, the Tigers are in good shape with several recruits.

The biggest of which is Edna Karr standout Gerald Willis. Though some believe he may also wind up inside, he has been LSU's No. 1 DL target for years. Dating back to when his older brother — Landon Collins — went through the recruiting process, Willis has grown very familiar with what LSU has to offer and has developed a strong relationship with the coaches. LSU will call on that as they look to land a commitment from him, though schools like Texas A&M and Florida have worked their way into the mix. He's given no indication that he's close to ending things with his recruitment, but LSU will certainly like its chances at this point.

Aside from Willis, LSU has its hands on several prospects out-of-state. Deondre Clark has been high on LSU since they offered last summer. But he's picked up offers from Texas A&M, Alabama and Ole Miss in recent weeks, and the Tigers may have more competition than they previously thought. Clark is expected to check out all those schools this summer with a commitment likely coming before his senior season.

Justin Thornton is another prospect high on LSU. He recently made a trip to campus for LSU's first scrimmage and the Tigers did a lot to impress him. He maintains that Florida is his favorite school, but LSU is creeping its way to the top. Expect another visit this summer that should go a long way in helping LSU close the gap with Florida.

Outside of those three are some other elite prospects with interest in LSU. Andrew Williams has publicly expressed interest in visiting Baton Rouge, Chad Thomas and Myles Garrett have each mentioned LSU in their top three, and Rashawn Shaw is teammates with OLB commit Sharieff Rhaheed and stated he had heavy interest in LSU after they offered in February.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

DT hasn't received quite as much as attention from LSU, but there are several names on the Tigers' radar to fill that position. As I mentioned earlier, Willis certainly has the frame and ability to move inside on the next level, but there are other names to watch out-of-state.

Travonte Valentine picked up an offer from LSU in February and has said that they are one of many schools he's interested in. After commitments to Louisville and Florida, Valentine doesn't appear to be in any rush to make another pledge. Expect LSU to be one of the programs to receive at least one visit from Valentine down the road.

LSU has also offered Khairi Clark, though he appears to be a heavy Miami favorite, and Johnny Dwight, though he will likely need to impress in camp and during the spring to make that committable. Dexter Wideman is another name that has popped up on LSU's radar lately as a DT prospect.

In-state, another name to continue monitoring is Garrald McDowell. The Covington standout has received plenty of attention from SEC schools like Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas and even Alabama. LSU would like him to add more weight before they consider offering him, and he'll need to have a big spring and summer to stay on the Tigers' radar.

LINEBACKER

The number of LBs takes in the class has been a major discussion topic over the last few months. The original number was two, then it grew to three after Donnie Alexander made his commitment. Then after Sharieff Rhaheed committed last week, that number looks like it could grow as high as four.

With two OLBs on board, LSU still has some players high on its wish list with several showing definite mutual interest. The most important being Kenny Young, who was on campus for LSU's first spring scrimmage. Young has always been high on LSU though he has picked up offers from some of the nation's top programs, including Alabama, Nebraska and Michigan. Young has maintained he wants to take his time with his recruitment, though LSU has started encouraging him to close it down early and select the Tigers. LSU still feels great about its chances, and Young will certainly have a spot available to him whenever he decides to pledge.

Outside of Young, there are a few big names out-of-state that are squarely on LSU's radar. The biggest probably being Clifton Garrett, who plans to visit Baton Rouge for the Tigers' Spring Game on April 20. Garrett has said he grew up a fan of LSU and has connections with current Tiger Ethan Pocic. Though Ohio State is also in the picture, Garrett has made it clear he would like to play in the SEC, and LSU is one of his top options. He also recently visited Ole Miss, and Florida is also squarely in the mix.

Petera Wilson and Zach Whitely are some other names to watch, as they've also expressed interest in LSU. Another name to monitor is Otaro Alaka. Though it was reported he had narrowed down his choices to Texas and Texas A&M, he is expected to visit LSU this month, and the Tigers would certainly love to work back into this mix for this speedy LB.

CORNERBACK

Though LSU has already locked up two commitments at CB, the Tigers are far from finished at this position. Tony Brown is the clear No. 1 target, and LSU has always been in great shape for this five-star recruit. Brown made a trip to LSU for the Tigers' first spring scrimmage but didn't pull the trigger as many had hoped. Brown continues to tear it up on the track circuit, and his intentions of doing both track and football in college are a big selling point for LSU — not to mention that he's close friends with Edward Paris and his sister will run track at LSU as well.

Outside of Brown, LSU has its sights set on CBs from all corners of the country. Adoree Jackson is one and he recently said he's had heavy interest in LSU since they offered him a few months ago. Jackson plans to visit some time in the near future, which will go a long way as LSU has plenty of competition for Jackson's service. Another player to watch is Jabrill Peppers, who will visit LSU later this month. Like Jackson, there is interest in LSU though he's receiving attention from most of the elite programs in the country. Where LSU stands with each of these prospects will clear up once the staff gets each one on campus.

SAFETY

LSU does have Devin Voorhies locked up at safety, though he certainly possesses the athleticism to play offense on the next level. While LSU has several prospects targeted at safety, some of these names could just as easily play CB on the next level.

Laurence Jones is the clear No. 1 priority, as LSU would love to keep one of the state's top DBs in Louisiana. The Neville standout was on campus recently and the staff continues to build a very strong relationship with him. But Alabama is posing a serious threat as Jones appears to be giving the Tide equal consideration. It appears it will ultimately come down to which program Jones and his mother feel most comfortable with.

Out-of-state, a couple of players committed to other programs are giving serious consideration to LSU. Davion Hall, a Baylor commit, picked up an offer from LSU and is very high on the Tigers. He's essentially reopened his recruitment and the Tigers have a real chance of flipping the Texas prospect. Michael Johnson, a Louisville commit, also has LSU high on his list since they offered recently. Though he will need to impress at camp to make it committable, Johnson has raved about LSU and plans to camp this July.

John Battle is another name to watch, as he could fill any position in the secondary. LSU is recruiting him as a hybrid-safety that could also drop down to cover a slot receiver. Battle is high on LSU, but is still giving equal consideration to all his suitors. Some other names to watch are Quincy Wilson — a high school teammate of signee Maquedius Bain — and Nick Ruffin — who has family ties to Baton Rouge.


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