TSD is combing through each position with a detailed look at who and what is being lost and the names/games of the 2015 targets that will be groomed as replacements in the short- and long-term.
Here are previously published breakdowns: Offensive Tackle, Defensive End, Safety, Linebacker and Running Back.
Next position up: Cornerback.
LEAVING A VOID
Along with the running back position, LSU probably recruits as well at corner as anywhere on the field during this Miles/Wilson era. That ability to consistently bring in top-flight talent to develop on an island is again likely to be put to the test heading into 2015, although, oddly, neither of the two potential bouts of attrition are official yet. The duo the Tigers will be monitoring after the bowl game: redshirt junior Jalen Collins (NFL Draft) and sophomore Rashard Robinson (currently under indefinite suspension).
Collins has enjoyed a fine 2014 season and is runaway winner for Most Improved Player on the LSU roster. Thought by many analysts, including this one, in the preseason to be competing for the role of dime back with true freshman Ed Paris, Collins blew those expectations out of the water. He started the opener versus Wisconsin and, even when Robinson returned from his first suspension this season, Collins continued to split time as the Tigers’ second corner.
Tall and incredibly rangy, at 6-foot-2 and 198 pounds, Collins ended the regular season with 33 tackles, two for loss, and interception to effectively end the Texas A&M game and a team-high 10 passes defended. That goes to show opponents had no fear going after Collins, most notably Alabama to WR Amari Cooper, but the defensive back held his own. He’s now esteemed by many experts as a second-round draft pick. Expect Collins, a fourth-year player, to go and be one of the top two or three LSU players off the board. Didn’t think I’d write that four months ago.
As for Robinson, he’s another in that rangy Tharold Simon mold. Listed at 6-foot-3, 177 pounds, the Florida native wasn’t tested nearly as often at corner as was Collins. His reputation from last season seemed to precede him. The defining moment of that season for Robinson: Holding A&M’s Mike Evans to only 51 yards on four catches while grabbing an interception. This season he had no picks and only one pass defended (like I said, people didn’t go his way often) to go with 17 tackles, one for loss. Should LSU dismiss Robinson and lose Collins, it will really be the same as replacing one starting full-time corner. But, if the Tigers lose both and safety Jalen Mills, the cumulative effect will be a little greater on the nickel and dime positions, forcing depth to come around quickly.
FILLING THE VOID
If there's one position LSU can absorb loss best, it's at cornerback. Even though the Tigers could potentially lose two of its top CBs, LSU seems solidly built for the future. Tre'Davious White will certainly return to his spot as the top corner. Freshman Ed Paris got most of his playing time on special teams, but he's been on campus since the spring and should be ready to take the next step. LSU also expects to get Dwayne Thomas back from injury this spring, and if his health allows, he should reassume his role as LSU's nickel back.
And LSU seems poised to restock the cupboards with CB talent. The Tigers already have three corners committed in the 2015 class with several other big names on the board. And you can look no further than Kevin Toliver (pictured above) if you want someone that can step in immediately. The five-star prospect ranks as the nation's No. 3 corner, and he's never wavered in his two-year commitment to the Tigers. Anyone that's seen him play agrees he's an instant-impact player, and LSU will find a way to put him on the field next season.
LSU also has Jeremy Cutrer and Xavier Lewis committed. Cutrer has two years of junior college ball under his belt, so that should accelerate his readiness for play. Lewis will probably be limited to special teams duty as a freshman, but his potential is just as high as any other corner on LSU's roster.
But the Tigers are far from done when it comes to adding CB talent in the 2015 class. Just this past weekend, LSU hosted Donte Jackson for an unofficial visit and Holton Hill for an official. The incredibly speedy Jackson will ultimately choose between LSU and Georgia, and the Tigers positioned themselves well with Hill after his visit. There are also five-stars Kendall Sheffield and Iman Marshall still on the radar, and JUCO prospect Justin Martin has the Tigers high on his list with an official visit coming next month. So with all the talent coming to Baton Rouge, that DBU reputation should continue for years to come.