Here we’ll take a look at the defense and specialists. LSU signed six defensive players and a pair of specialists. We’ll go position-by-position to highlight each signee.
SIGNED: Arden Key, Isaiah Washington
LSU will be looking for players to compete immediately at defensive end after the Tigers lose both starters from last year’s team. Both of these players have the ability to play immediately.
Key may just be the biggest get in this class. Ed Orgeron won his first big recruiting battle as an LSU coach, beating out South Carolina for his signature. Key’s a long, rangy defensive end that LSU has compared to Barkevious Mingo. He’ll need to work on his run-stopping, but he’ll come in immediately as someone that can help get to the quarterback.
Washington sat behind a lot of talented defensive linemen at Edna Karr. He finally got his big time to shine as a senior and made the most of it. He too is extremely long and has a knack for getting to the quarterbacks. He and Key are similar players, and we’re expecting to see both a decent amount in 2015.
“Key is a great pass rush specialist and a guy that has a ton of potential and will be an immediate impact player,” Miles said. “Washington has a chance to be a great player. He’s lean, has a long frame and can really move. He will develop nicely.”
LSU did not sign any defensive tackles in this class, but it was not a tremendous need after the 2013 and 2014 classes. 2016 is particularly loaded at DT, so look for LSU to stock up.
SIGNED: Kevin Toliver, Donte Jackson, Xavier Lewis, Jeremy Cutrer
LSU didn’t just sign two of the best corners in the country with Toliver and Jackson. LSU signed two of the nation’s best recruits, regardless of position. Miles heaped a ton of praise on both guys, and they each figure to have a substantial role as freshman.
Toliver can compete for the open starting job opposite Tre’Davious White. He’s been an SEC-ready player for a couple years now, and he’ll have an extra semester on campus this spring. He already has the ideal frame and figures to be the next lockdown corner for the Tigers.
Jackson projects to be another elite corner. Few move as seamlessly as him. He is still a bit raw at that position, but he has all the tools that make it a near guarantee that he develops into a special player. Miles did say Wednesday that Jackson will get some touches on offense. He’s one of the most dynamic athletes in the country and a stud on the track. He should find a role on all three sides of the ball.
“There are no finer prospects in America than Toliver and Jackson,” Miles said.
But Lewis is no slouch either. He’s a four-star corner in his own right, and is a very physical player as well. LSU will also add Jeremy Cutrer from the junior college ranks. He originally committed to LSU for the 2013 class but had to go JUCO before he could make it. LSU lists him as a safety, but Miles said he can seamlessly play both S and CB on the next level.
If there’s one glaring criticism in this class, it’s that LSU didn’t sign a linebacker. The Tigers missed on Leo Lewis, who signed with Mississippi State on NSD. The Tigers have only signed four linebackers in the last three classes, so that makes it a huge priority in 2016.
“When you change staff, there are some guys who had made relationships with some of our old coaches and when they left, so did their interest in the school,” Miles said. “And so we made our case as best we could but what will end up having to happen is certainly next year's class will have to be a very, very heavy linebacker class.”
SIGNED: Blake Ferguson, Josh Growden
Ferguson ranks as the best long snapper in the country. He’ll follow in his older brother’s footsteps (Reid Ferguson) and assume snapping duties for the Tigers in 2016. Blake has a legitimate future in the NFL, and snaps should remain steady with another Ferguson in charge.
LSU kept the tradition of Australian punters with Growden. He figures to be the third in line after Brad Wing and Jamie Keehn. A former Aussie Rules Football player, Growden should be another good one from Down Under.
“I kind of like those Australian guys,” Miles said.