Billy Embody - SCOUT

Tiger Bites: Inside Everything LSU Sports

Come inside this edition of Tiger Blitz' Tiger Bites with the latest on everything LSU sports and recruiting.

Four-star Livonia athlete plans official visits, talks LSU commitment

By: Billy Embody

2017 Livonia (La.) athlete Patrick Queen caught up with Tiger Blitz yesterday saying that being able to bond with Dave Aranda and Bradley Dale Peveto during camp and the BBQ in July made him feel a lot better about his commitment.

"I really liked it because they were coaching me and we were having fun at the same time. Then, he had wanted me to gain weight and I was at 209, but when I told him I was 218-219, he was really excited," Queen said. "I liked it (camp) because you know what you're coming to and you don't have to guess what you're coming into. I already know what I'm coming into and I like it. I know how he coaches."

The new 3-4 scheme will allow Queen to show off his versatility, something he loves.

"I love it because I'm not really a full-time linebacker. I'm part-safety, part-linebacker," Queen said. "The thing I need to be most prepared for is to use my hands a lot."

LSU commits Kary Vincent, Jr., Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Tory Carter have all become close with Queen since committing.

"We talk about everything. We talk about coming in and getting some starting spots and working really hard to get them. We talk about competing with the best of the best with (Derrius) Guice and all them," Queen said. "I feel like it's important so that you're not all strangers when you get there. That's a chemistry boost." 

As far as his commitment, Queen said he's solid to LSU, but will official visit Ole Miss, Indiana and Nebraska to take his parents to some different places.

Queen plans to get back to Tiger Stadium for the first game against Jacksonville State and can't wait to run out of that tunnel.

"That's the best feeling in the world. You got to look at it like all the tradition, the fans, the cheers, that's what you got to look forward to," Queen said. "Growing up, I got discouraged not getting an offer my junior year, but I just kept working and working, and it came."

Plaquemine four-star safety Todd Harris is Queen's target for recruiting for the rest of the class and he just keeps telling him early playing time could be in his future. Queen said that the "commitment" ceremony was a product of his coach and people should stop worrying about it.

"We really got everybody we need for our class, but when I see 2018 and 2019 that are promising, I tell them too," Queen said. "Todd could start because the safeties are about to go and they got some ones there, but they're kind of old already so when you come, you got to be ready. I think they should let off him. His coach put him up to it so cut him some slack."

Hear more from Queen about his upcoming senior season and what a state championship would mean to him in the video below.

Observations from a week hitting the Louisiana high school trail
Billy Embody - SCOUT

By: Billy Embody

I spent Monday through Friday (heading to Plaquemine High School today) on the trail hitting local high schools to see LSU commits and was extremely impressed with the coaching staffs and players. I saw a vast array of programs from Catholic HS in Baton Rouge, St. James HS, Livonia HS and Southern Lab this week. All were different in many ways, but here are some takeaways and observations.

  • First trip was out to Catholic, where coach Dale Weiner runs an outstanding, disciplined program. One coach I talked with there told me that you're not going to find better kids than Aaron Moffitt and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Both work extremely hard and both are just winners. It helps they play great ball, but they're absolutely leaders for this team. Rain cut my visit short so we move onto the next.
  • I had to run over to see St. James and LSU QB commit Lowell Narcisse (more on him next week), but a few things struck me on this visit. Coach Robert Valdez is totally changing the culture there. It's a program that's used to winning, but it's also a tough place to coach. He's having to work through some attitude issues and adjustments on how he wants this team to work.
  • Narcisse has a live arm and certainly is a stud athlete, but he's also got to pay more attention to detail. I'm concerned about his complete lack of attention to detail. Generally, he was lazy in his footwork and that resulted in high balls and missed throws even on air. I know Narcisse has to work on his mechanics more already, but I was a little disappointed. His teammate DeMarcus Williams, who is the backup quarterback and led them deep into the playoffs had a better day than Narcisse I thought. Cam Cameron will have a lot to work with when Narcisse arrives on campus.
  • At St. James, there's plenty of 2020 talent including their future quarterback Shamar Smith and running back DJ LeBouf. Both are players coach Valdez highlighted and said they'll be high-major players. Enjoyed watching them late in practice as they got reps. St. James is always loaded at the skills positions.
  • Moving on to Southern Lab, I made it out for an informal 7-on-7 and offensive line camp near Southern where they battled Baker High. Lab certainly had the talent advantage with 4-star linebacker Chris Allen, who recently said LSU and Alabama are now tied after Bama lead for much of the spring and summer. Allen showed great ability to drop in coverage for a guy his size and really impressed me with his attitude and leadership on his team. 
  • Lab also has 2019 LSU offensive line commit Kardell Thomas, who is a beast of a human out there and dominated the 1-on-1s. He's got that swagger that you want out of an offensive lineman and really didn't let up for a second while he was out there. 
  • Another player that caught my eye was 2018 receiver Cameron Thomas, who looks the part already and OBJ'ed a ball in the corner of the endzone. This is a kid with outstanding work ethic (don't think he took a rep off) and body control. LSU is already in contact. More on him below.
  • Finally, Livonia is a small school looking to win their second state title in three years with LSU commit Patrick Queen. He's going to do it all for Livonia at running back, linebacker, special teams, everything. Don't expect him to come off the field. When coach Guy Mistretta got to Livonia, the team had never won a state championship, but that changed in 2014 as the team won its first state title. Last year, the team got complacent and lost four games. This year, Mistretta's trying to combat that and he'll need a leader (who was quick to point out teammates for me to watch for) like Queen to lead the way.
  • His sophomore quarterback Kerri Wells will need to mature. The quarterback started last year for Mistretta, but now is going to be looked to for more leadership and to grow up. Wells has a high ceiling and can become a big-time player whether it's at quarterback or receiver at the next level.

3-star tight end talks LSU visit
Student Sports

By: Billy Embody

2017 James Taylor (Tex.) tight end Camron Horry has been committed to Texas A&M for quite some time, but just in case something goes wrong, he took a visit to LSU to check it out.

LSU tight ends coach Steve Ensminger has been doing a good job of not pushing too hard on Horry.

"What I like about them is they don't pester me, but they just text me every morning and tells me to be careful and have a great day. It goes a long way."

LSU has told Horry that they use tight ends just about as much as anyone does now a days, which is another selling point.

"They compare themselves with other schools how they use tight ends 95 percent more than other schools and I don't want to go to a school because of my name, I want to play."

Texas A&M has been selling Horry on him being different for them as well as the Aggie Network of jobs that it could open up.

"I'm still solid on A&M, but it's just opening doors for other things. It's just to keep my eyes open. Their facility is great and awesome. I can probably be there (LSU) if something goes wrong with A&M," Horry said. "I can see myself needing a job and they have the Aggie Network and it has a broad chance of you getting a job from someone who went to A&M and it has lists of names that are willing to help. They're saying I'm not like a lot of other tight ends. I know how to actually block and catch routes."

Horry is still new to tight end so there's a few things he's working on.

"Footwork, strength, positioning of the ball and my strength. Finding the ball has seen an improvement as I'm running routes. That was my biggest weakness."

Arkansas might get a visit from Horry as well. Both LSU and Arkansas have impressed Horry with their ability

"I know they've come a long way using tight ends and they have tight ends go to the league."

Horry is officially visiting LSU for the Alabama game in Tiger Stadium and is excited for the "crazy" atmosphere. That'd be his only official at this point.

2017 4-star Louisiana forward lists LSU in top nine
SCOUT

By: Billy Embody

2017 Natchitoches (La.) wing Brandon Rachal recently cut his list to nine and the four-star prospect kept LSU in it mainly because of his respect for LSU head coach Johnny Jones.

"That's my home school. They're a good program and doing some good things with recruiting momentum. I love Johnny Jones. I'm a big Johnny Jones fan. I'm close with the staff and comfortable with the staff. I know that I could go there."

Jones and assistant Robert Kirby have both been on Rachal hard, but are focused on helping him grow as a player too.

"They're both straight forward. They don't sugar coat things. They tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear," Rachal said. "They go about a lot of things the right way."

Rachal said closeness to home isn't a factor, but it couldn't hurt if it felt like home.

"It's a big factor to be able to find that good fit. The location doesn't mean much, but it wouldn't hurt to have a good school to play for and it is close to home, Rachal said.

Brandon Sampson, Skylar Mays, Antonio Blakeney and Aaron Epps are all friends with Rachal, who said they give LSU great reviews.

"They say it's great. They have great fans and it's always fun for them. It's an SEC school and you play for an SEC school and that's a great experience to play great competition."

The LSU coaching staff likes Rachal's versatility and thinks he can play in almost any system because of it.

"I'm versatile. I can do more than one thing being so versatile. That can really help the team out."

Rachal wouldn't say who's leading or where he'll take officials, but he's working to get everything settled on visits and a decision date soon. It'll be soon though as he wants to sign in the early period.

"I don't want to put anyone out more than others. It's fair game for everybody right now. I want to go somewhere I know I can see myself being happy there for four years. I want it to feel like home."

Tulane, LSU and Texas all got unofficials this summer and came away impressed with Shaka Smart and what he's building there. Rachal kept LSU in his top nine with Auburn, NC State, Oklahoma State, Stephen F. Austin, Texas, Texas A&M, Tulane and VCU too.

Texas A&M and Auburn stand out to Rachal for being in the SEC while Auburn has some major commits as of now and Billy Kennedy has impressed Rachal as a developer of players.

One of the top baseball players in 2019 commits to LSU
Ray Torres

By: Billy Embody

2019 is a longtime away, but Charlotte (N.C.) Providence catcher Ray Torres knew where he wanted to go already.

"LSU has been my No. 1 school ever since I've wanted to go to college. I've always wanted to go to LSU. Just having them reach out at such an early age, it's mind blowing," Torres said. "What got me interested was the baseball program and I knew it was the correct choice for me."

Andy Cannizaro was the coach in charge of handling Torres' recruitment and the two struck up a good relationship early on.

"They just like what's to come and my hustle and the way I play," the 5-11, 185-pound catcher said. "All the calls we had every so often, I felt close to him as a person."

This past fall, LSU visited for the LSU-Florida football game and was extremely impressed with the visit.

"I just love everything about LSU. The campus, the baseball facilities are so ahead of other schools I've visited. It's kind of mind-blowing the stuff they have."

This summer, Torres tripped around the east coast, Georgia and Florida playing ball this summer and his swing improved because of all the reps.

"My swing because we've played a lot of games and working out as well. We've been hitting everyday even when we don't have a game. That helped a lot," Torres said. "That was one of my main focuses this summer."

With being one of the best players in the country, Torres can impact a game in a big way for his team.

"When my game is on, I feel like I'm helping the team and I'm a really big factor in the team's play to help us win games and tournaments," Torres said.

When it comes to get to LSU, there's one main goal in mind.

"I just want to be the best I can be to help the program and help the team. I'd love to win a national championship at LSU."

Torres plans to visit for the LSU-Jacksonville State football game.

Scouting report from Perfect Games's Matt Czechanski from the Perfect Game World Series:
"Torres most likely has the most advanced catch and throw actions of anyone in the 2019 class. He gains ground exceptionally well behind the plate with a very quick release. His arm strength could possibly be considered plus even at such a young age with accuracy and carry to the bag. He gunned down a pair of would be base runners in the first inning with pop times of 1.99 and 1.93 respectively. Both runners were out well before they got to the bag."

2017 running back commit solid to LSU
© Greg Powers

By: Billy Embody

2017 Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been busy with summer workouts, The Opening and LSU visits.

"It was everything you'd expect it to be with all those athletes and guys out there. Four and five-star guys everywhere. It was everything I thought it'd be," Edwards-Helaire said. 

Jhamon Ausbon, Austin Deculus, Saahdiq Charles and Tyler Shelvin were all LSU commits that Edwards-Helaire hung out with and pushed other players to commit. Edwards-Helaire said Grant Delpit, who committed to LSU at The Opening needed an extra push to commit as well.

"The guys that were on the edge, you just talk them into how good LSU is as a school. It's not just going to be football-based. They want to come for football, but school is important too so just think about all the things you do after football. It's not a four-year decision, it's a 40-year decision."

Edwards-Helaire has been working Plaquemine safety Todd Harris to commit and says, "he's been on the edge for a while." Other than that, Edwards-Helaire feels the class is pretty close to being finished up. 

As far as on the field, Edwards-Helaire said The Opening was all about the little things for him.

"I picked up staying competitive. There are always guys that are good. Being able to stay focused and little drills and perks. Ezikel Elliot was telling the running backs about little details. Leonard Fournette also gave Edwards-Helaire some tips.

Jabar Juluke and Cam Cameron have been recruiting Edwards-Helaire for a while and Juluke was the icing on the cake.

"Coach Juluke was recruiting me at Louisiana Tech and when he came here, I was about to commit to LSU. I knew I wanted to be coached by coach Juluke."

LSU's offense fits Edwards-Helaire well with his versatility and with some of the expected tweaks, he's excited to see how those go.

"The way they run the ball and coach Cam is going to switch some things up to do some reverses and little switches in the offense. I can get the ball out of the backfield off different routes and things like that."

Edwards-Helaire made it over to LSU for a few visits this summer and while nothing big happened, Edwards-Helaire was glad to talk about his season with the staff.

"Had a talk with coach Cam, coach Juluke and coach Miles about everything I need to handle for my senior year and all of that."

EDWARDS-HELAIRE TALKED WITH CHAD SIMMONS AT THE OPENING:

4-star offensive lineman commit talks LSU, The Opening
Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

By: Billy Embody

2017 Madison-Ridgeland (Miss.) offensive guard and LSU commit Saahdiq Charles made the trip over recently to LSU for their BBQ and a camp as well. It gave him a chance to bond more with his future teammates.

"It was good. I had a really good time. Not all of us, but a big group was there. Just hanging around with my future teammates and getting to mess with them," Charles said. "Me and Austin are pretty good friends and Myles too. We're pretty confident about LSU beating Alabama this year and year-to-year."

Coach Jeff Grimes has taken the lead with Charles and the two have built an even stronger relationship now that they've worked on the field together.

"Me and him meshed together great. I don't have a better relationship with anyone else and it just got better working on the field."

Charles said his experience at The Opening taught him more lessons off the field than on it.

"The Opening was a fun, humbling learning experience I guess you could say. Not just points of football, but aspects of life. I was just looking at things a little differently. How to compete, how to come to work everyday and how to make decisions yourself."

Last season, Charles and his squad fell to their rivals in the state title game and that is motivating him even more heading into his senior year.

"I just want to help my team get over the hump. That was a terrible feeling. I just want to get back there and win this time."

2019 4-star quarterback talks offers, summer trips
Chris Nee

By: Billy Embody

2019 Houston (Tex.) St. Pius X quarterback Grant Gunnell made a few trips this summer. One of them was to LSU for both a campus visit and to their satellite camp.

"It was nice. I got to talk with coach Cam and coach Miles for a while and learn from them a bit. It was a great experience," Gunnell said. "Coach Cam said I did really well and coach Miles said I threw the ball well."

Cam Cameron made a nice impression on the young four-star at the camp as well as Les Miles.

"I really like coach Cam. He was really cool and he really knows a lot about the game. He's not really a screamer. He just told me how to fix it and he also told me when I did something well," Gunnell said. "I really like coach Miles too. It was cool talking about other things than football with him," Gunnell said.

Winning is the ultimate goal for Gunnell, who likes what all LSU has to offer.

"I like that they compete for championships all the time, they put people in the pros and you can get a good education and a good degree," Gunnell said.

The campus impressed Gunnell as well.

"I thought they were awesome. I love all the trees on campus and they were building a new weight room," the 6-5, 193-pound quarterback said. I want them to compete for national championships and putting people into the pros, but most importantly, my education as well."

Texas A&M, Florida State and Oklahoma State all got visits from Gunnell this summer and they offered, who's taking the recruiting process slowly as he gets into it.

All the staffs Gunnell love Gunnell's mechanics, who took over for the final eight games and threw for over 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns.

"They really like my release point of getting my elbow up and also my athletic ability being able to run as well as pass. I'm working on more completions with the goal of winning a state championship. It was a really good learning experience and I got the hang of it towards the end of it."

2018 receiver getting attention from LSU
Billy Embody- SCOUT

By: Billy Embody

For 2018 Southern Lab (La.) receiver Cameron Thomas is focused on getting his team back to the state championship game, but said it could be a long process.

"Mostly I'm focused on the team all-around. We're trying to get better all the way around. We lost a lot of players." 

He's been working on the little things all summer and it's starting to pay off.

"My footwork. Just trying to get off that struggle of getting in and out of routes," the 6-3, 210-pound receiver said. "I can catch well. Great body control, eye coordination."

While Thomas has offers from Jackson State and Southern, he's getting attention from LSU's staff and camped with the Tigers this summer. Cam Cameron is staying in close contact.

"They like how I get separation from others with defenders and my eye-coordination," Thomas said. "Coach Cam is a nice dude. He's just a good friend now. We've been talking since the end of my sophomore year."

When Thomas camped at LSU, he came away with plenty of nuggets to help his game.

"It was great. They taught me a lot more stuff than I already knew. They taught me a lot of stuff that I can use to do better against high schools," Thomas said.

An offer from LSU would be the best thing he could imagine.

"It would mean a lot. I've been in Louisiana all my life. That's the team I look up to. I've watched and go to every game. It's the team I've wanted to go to."


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