The Tigers played 17 true freshmen this past season, six of which started at least one game. The group included four five-star prospects, 13 four-star prospects and 16 that landed in the Scout 300.
Now that we’ve had an entire season to grade their performance on the field, it’s time to take a second look at those rankings. Before we get into that though, here’s how the Tigers’ Top 10 recruits ranked according to Scout.
2. Jamal Adams
5. Ed Paris
10. Trey Quinn
Below we’ll provide our re-ranking of LSU’s Top 10 impact freshmen based on their performance this past season, providing an explanation of why the fall where they do:
10. Ed Paris | No. 47 overall | No. 7 CB
This four-star corner played in all 12 games after enrolling a semester early to participate in spring practices. Paris’ role was mostly limited to special teams though, as he was regularly featured on kickoff coverage. Paris notched three unassisted tackles, but he’s poised for a much bigger impact as a sophomore. He’ll be squarely in the mix to start at corner in 2015 with it looking likely that neither Jalen Collins nor Rashard Robinson returns next season.
9. Deondre Clark | No. 118 overall | No. 15 DE
Clark played in 11 games this year, totaling nine assisted tackles. He became LSU’s No. 4 defensive end by the end of the season, getting his most extensive playing time in the season finale when Danielle Hunter went down with an injury. As with Paris, Clark should have a much bigger role in 2015, especially if Hunter bolts early for the NFL. Clark showed glimpses in 2014 that he could be in the mix for a starting spot as a sophomore.
8. Sione Teuhema | No. 286 overall | No. 28 OLB
Teuhema and Clark are really tied for the No. 8 spot as both saw a fairly equal amount of time in reserve roles. Teuhema gets a slight nod though as he made three solo tackles. His big debut came against Sam Houston State when he made a pair of tackles for loss in the same series. LSU also got creative with Teuhema, moving him to the defensive tackles spot in mustang packages, taking advantage of his speed in the pass rush. Like Clark, he’ll be squarely in the mix for a big role next season.
7. Brandon Harris | No. 125 overall | No. 6 QB
Harris could easily be ranked lower on this list based on his performance on the field. He played in only eight games and barely played at all after his dismal start against Auburn. He did finish the year with 452 passing yards and six touchdowns. But his bigger impact came in the minds of fans. Harris’ presence made the quarterback debate never-ending. Though he showed little to warrant taking the job from Anthony Jennings, fans clamored all year for him to step into the starter’s role. So based on that, he comes in at No. 7 on this list as his impact was felt on message boards and radio call-in shows.
6. Trey Quinn | No. 184 overall | No. 33 WR
Quinn played in all 12 games this year with seven starts. He had a strong start to the year with 14 catches in the Tigers’ first seven games. But Quinn started to drop off after that. He had only three grabs in the final five games, including some tough drops at key moments against Alabama. That eventually dropped him out of the starting lineup in favor of John Diarse. Quinn did show flashes of being a dependable inside receiver though and should still be a key cog as the passing attack looks to improve.
5. Darrel Williams | No. 262 overall | No. 24 RB
Williams was only LSU’s fourth running back, but he still played a big role in the Tigers’ power game. He finished the year with 61 rushing attempts for 280 yards and three touchdowns. His season high came in a 65-yard game against Sam Houston State and he also had a two-touchdown performance against Louisiana-Monroe. LSU also used Williams as a fullback in two-back sets and filled in for Kenny Hilliard when he went down with an injury against Alabama. Like most of the players on this list, Williams should see a bigger role in 2015 with LSU set to lose two senior backs.
4. Malachi Dupre | No. 27 overall | No. 2 WR
Like Quinn, Dupre’s production tapered off toward the end of the season. He had only three catches in the final five games, but when Dupre was on, he showed how effective a touchdown target he can be. Of his 14 grabs this season, five went for touchdowns, and his 22.7 yards-per-catch average led the team. His best performance came in that near-comeback against Mississippi State when he finished with four grabs for 120 yards and two touchdowns. A preseason injury slowed down his early development, but Dupre should continue living up to his five-star billing.
3. Jamal Adams | No. 8 overall | No. 1 S
Adams became a star in his first season at LSU. He played in all 12 games with a significant increase in time coming when Dwayne Thomas went down with his season-ending injury. Adams got two starts in the final three games and served many roles on that defense, playing safety, nickel and dime. He finished sixth on the team with 56 tackles including three for a loss and one sack. The way he plays reminded many of Tyrann Mathieu, and most expect Adams to be another great one in the line of DBU.
2. Davon Godchaux | No. 173 overall | No. 21 DE
Godchaux was probably one of the bigger surprises in this freshman class. Despite missing his entire senior season with a knee injury, Godchaux was ready to go from day one at LSU. The big question entering the season was which Class of 2013 defensive tackle would take over for a nicked Quentin Thomas. The answer was none of them as Godchaux emerged as the guy most trusted by the LSU coaches. He played in all 12 games and his nine starts were the most of any freshman. He finished the year with 34 tackles and his improvement through the season was a key part in LSU’s resurgence up the middle.
1. Leonard Fournette | No. 1 overall | No. 1 RB
It’s a no-brainer that the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit turned into LSU’s top freshman. Despite a slow start, Fournette finished the year in style with a season-high 146-yard game against Texas A&M, that featured a beastly touchdown run a la Herschel Walker. Fournette’s breakout game came in a 140-yard night against Florida, the first of three 100-yard performances against SEC teams. He emerged as the Tigers’ featured back and the Tigers leaned on him heavily to get the offense going. Fournette finished the year with 891 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, and he’ll have a chance to break the single-season freshman mark with a big performance in the bowl game. This year, he showed everything that made him so highly coveted as a recruit, and Fournette should only get better as his career progresses.