Every recruiting class requires something different to backfill personnel holes in the roster.
The signing haul for LSU in 2015 had to be offensive in nature by necessity, particularly with the number of running backs, offensive linemen and tight ends with expiring eligibility after last season.
The result: 17 of the Tigers' 25 signees this offseason ply their trades on offense. Two of the remaining eight are special-teams only players (snapper Blake Ferguson and punter Josh Growden) while another is a primary defender but is almost guaranteed to see some action on offense (more on him below).
But the point is simple - there will be a lot of new faces on the offensive side of the ball this fall. When projecting which of them will make the biggest impact in year one, let's start with the full list of newcomers on offense.
QB Justin McMillan (early enrollee)
FB David Ducre (early enrollee)
TE Hanner Shipley (early enrollee)
RB Nicholas Brossette
OL George Brown
WR Derrick Dillon
WR Jazz Ferguson
RB Lanard Fournette
RB Derrius Guice
WR Tyron Johnson
OL Adrian Magee
WR Brandon Martin
TE Foster Moreau
TE/FB Bry'Kiethon Mouton
OL Maea Teuhema
OL Chidi Valentine-Okeke
OL Toby Weathersby
Beginning with the offensive linemen as we sift through the candidates, this class for LSU has a chance to be one of the most special up front in a long, long time. But it's likely to take a year of growth before the impact is felt between the lines.
Position coach Jeff Grimes brings back three starters on the line to go with a trio of second- and third-year players (Josh Boutte, William Clapp and K.J. Malone) pushing for the remaining spots in the first five.
As heralded as players like Maea Teuhema, Chidi Valentine-Okeke and George Brown are, the odds aren't with them cracking the first-team as freshmen. It's just a tough place to break in right away. Their times are coming, and sooner than later, but that's why it's difficult to select a big ugly for this distinction in 2015.
Players who fit more naturally into this conversation include both Baton Rouge running backs (Nicholas Brossette and Derrius Guice), early-enrollee fullback David Ducre, talented wide receivers Derrick Dillon and Tyron Johnson as well as Donte Jackson, a cornerback whose ball skills and speed are too good not to get the ball in his hands.
The receivers, a little like the linemen, are hard sells because of the returning starters in front of them. Johnson comes in with the most hype but even he will have a hard time playing more than half the snaps in an SEC game with the likes of Travin Dural, Malachi Dupre, John Diarse and Trey Quinn back ... and D.J. Chark emerging this spring.
The three newbies in the backfield are all great candidates because of the way Frank Wilson spreads the wealth and due to how important fullbacks remain in LSU's system.
Ducre is behind John David Moore on the depth chart entering this summer, but he'll have his chances to overtake the former walk-on again this August.
Both Brossette and Guice could tally a minimum of 30-40 touches apiece as freshmen in the backfield stable. With only two other scholarship tailbacks aboard, even though one of them is Leonard Fournette, the need for additional backs to play and collect carries is there. Guice is probably more of the game-breaker than is Brossette, but the latter can be a more consistent chain-mover and physical presence for the Tigers.
Then there's Jackson.
The fun and speculation about Jackson on offense began on National Signing Day, when Les Miles declared LSU had learned its lesson from the Patrick Peterson days and would feature Jackson in all three phases from jump. The anticipation continues to grow after this past weekend, when Frank Wilson made mention of Jackson getting touches on offense while at a speaking function in New Orleans.
If Jackson can slide into the role many had pegged for speedster Jeryl Brazil a few years back, he's a very viable option for most productive offensive newcomer, even if he won't play as many snaps as Guice or Brossette or Johnson or potentially Ducre.
This one could go a number of different ways, but in mid-May, the take here is that Guice or Jackson are the best answers to this question.
Only in Louisiana could one of the top defensive signees in a class have a chance to the most productive offensive player.
Which newbie will contribute most on offense?
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