TIGER WRAP: A weekend in review

What a weekend it was for the LSU community. The Tigers defeated the Florida Gators 21-17 in front of the largest crowd to ever witness a game at Tiger Stadium and some of those in attendance could be helping LSU win more games like that in the future. The LSU coaches hosted more than 20 prospects from the Class of 2006 on official and unofficial visits highlighted by some of the top players on the Tigers' Wish List.

The star-studded lineup that has been confirmed included the No.1 cornerback in America, along with the No. 3 rated quarterback, No. 3 rated tight end, No. 4 rated safety, No. 11 rated linebacker, No. 15 rated linebacker and No. 16 rated offensive lineman.

Miles came out of the weekend with at least two big commitments as the Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson duo of Kelvin Sheppard (6-2, 222, 4.7) and Perry Riley (6-0, 210, 4.6) both saw enough to put an end to the recruiting madness.

"We committed to coach Miles about 20 minutes ago," Sheppard told Tiger Rag at 4:20 p.m. "He was real excited and everything."

Sheppard had narrowed his list down to Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia Tech a few weeks back while Riley had trimmed his list of suitors to Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.

What were the deciding factors for both prospects to choose the Tigers?

"We talked about it a little on the trip but we didn't influence each other at all," Sheppard said. "For both of us, it came down to the coaching staff, the players, playing time and the atmosphere. We just loved everything about the LSU program."

Sheppard and Riley flew into Baton Rouge early Saturday morning and they will be flying back to Georgia late Sunday afternoon.

The time they spent in Baton Rouge was full of activities and they barely had time to catch their breath.

"We got in on Saturday and talked to the coaches before the game," said Sheppard, who was hosted by Ali Highsmith. "After the game we just went to dinner and hung out with the players. Today (Sunday), we toured all of the facilities and met with the coaches some more. It was an awesome trip."

This was not the first time Sheppard and Riley had been to Baton Rouge because they camped there over the summer. They both raved about that trip but this time they got to see just what it was like to be an LSU Tiger.

"The game day atmosphere is live down here and Tiger Stadium is awesome," said Sheppard. "I can't wait to see how it feels to play in that stadium. It was so electric."

Finally, before Sheppard had to go so he could pack up and head back home we asked him how it felt to be a Tiger.

"It feels good to be a Tiger," he said. "It feels real good."

Everyone wants to know just how legitimate Tim Tebow's interest is in LSU. After all, the Tigers signed the top quarterback in the 2005 class and they already have a pledge from the fourth rated signal caller in this class.

For LSU to even get an unofficial visit from the third rated quarterback in this class is pretty remarkable but even more so is the fact that he said he was genuinely interested in the Tigers and that they are still in the hunt for his signature.

The 6-3, 217-pounder from St. Augustine (Fla.) Nease said having Ryan Perrilloux and Alex Cate may play a small role in his decision but the fact that LSU has Les Miles and Jimbo Fisher will play an even larger role as far as he is concerned. He could not stop talking about how much he likes Miles, Fisher and the offense LSU runs.

Now, I would be shocked if LSU lands Tebow and I consider it a gigantic long shot but stranger things have happened. If he has a good visit and decides to come back for an official then I may alter my stance but for now I'm sticking with my gut feeling and that is Alabama, Florida State or Florida will come out on top.

The real question is how will this affect Cate and the pledge he gave the Tigers back over the summer?

When I spoke with Cate shortly after he pulled the trigger he said Fisher told him they only wanted one quarterback and if he would give them a commitment then he was their guy.

The way I see it is a couple of things could have taken place since then.

One, the coaches feel that Cate could be looking around and that they have to protect themselves because they need a top-notch quarterback in this class.

Another scenario could be that they feel there is a good chance they will lose one of their current signal callers this year with JaMarcus Russell possibly opting to test the NFL waters or Matt Flynn looking to transfer so he can have the chance to be a starter somewhere else.

At this point, I think Flynn leaving is more likely than Russell bolting for the NFL but this is something I will be looking into next week. I will attempt to catch up with Cate to see what he is hearing, and more importantly, how he is feeling about his early commitment since LSU is in hot pursuit of Tebow.

Three of the top prospects in California made their official visit this weekend and what a coup it would be if the Tigers could end up landing a couple of them, or even just one of them.

Headlining the list of West Coast studs is the nation's fourth rated safety Jonas Mouton (6-2, 210, 4.5).

Mouton was born in Kaplan, La., but has lived in Los Angeles for the past nine years. He still has several members of his family living in South Louisiana and they are doing their best to bring him back home.

"It helps that I still have family down there but I have to do what is best for me and they know that," Mouton said. "LSU is a good school and has a good football program so that gives me a lot to think about. I'm looking forward to getting back down to Louisiana for the weekend."

Along with LSU, Mouton is also considering Michigan (9/10), Nebraska (9/2) and USC. He has kept things close to the vest throughout his recruitment and still claims no leader.

For LSU's sake, hopefully that will change after this weekend.

LSU needs a couple of tight ends in this class and there are not many out there better than Oakland (Calif.) McClymonds product Na Derris Ward (6-5, 245, 4.8).

Ward, who is rated No. 3 in the nation at his position, has been following the developments at LSU very closely over the past few months and likes what he sees.

"They always have a good team and they know how to get their players ready for the next level," Ward said. "The folks around there have been through a lot with the hurricanes and the way they have responded is unbelievable. LSU has been through so much and still has a good team. That is impressive."

If the Tigers are going to pull Ward down South they will have to beat out Georgia (11/19), Florida (11/26), Tennessee (10/29), Arizona (10/22) and Washington.

Mark Johnson (6-3, 230, 4.5) of Los Angels-Susan Miller Dorsey would certainly shore up the linebacker corps and he also made his way from California down to the bayou last weekend.

Rated as the nation's 11th best linebacker, Johnson has the size and speed to be a big-time player at the college level. He lists Ohio State, Miami, Florida, California, Michigan and Tennessee as his other top schools but the Tigers' need for linebackers is very appealing to the standout defender.

"The coaches said they will lose three senior starters this year and that I could go in and compete for playing time right away," Johnson said. "All you can ask for is the opportunity and they present a good one. I have heard a lot about LSU games and how crazy they are so I can't wait to see it for myself."

Another major needs area in this class is the offensive line and one of the top guards in Georgia traveled to Baton Rouge.

Steven Singleton, a 6-3, 293-pounder from Buford, (Ga.), has been sitting on an LSU offer for a few months now and he was really looking forward to making his way down to Louisiana.

"I've talked to the coaches a lot lately and all they keep saying is how bad they need linemen," Singleton he said. "I know a lot about LSU because I live in SEC country and it is one of the top schools around. I can't wait to see the facilities and compare them to other places I've been."

The only other place he had been to was Georgia and he plans on visiting Mississippi State, South Carolina and West Virginia before he makes a decision.

The No. 16 rated offensive lineman is Lee Tilley and he made his way down from Big 10 country.

I spoke to Columbus (Ohio) Franklin Heights offensive line coach Jeremy Beckham last week and he said that LSU was definitely in the hunt and was in good shape with his big 6-7, 310 pound tackle.

"LSU has a real good shot with him," Beckham said. "Lee wants to play in some warm weather and have the chance to win a national championship. They give him a good opportunity to play early and are high on his list."

Tilley had already visited Florida (camp), Oklahoma (10/1) and Arizona State (10/8) and he plans on tripping to South Carolina and West Virginia before giving his verbal commitment.

Three-star prospect J.D. Lott (6-4, 212, 4.6) of Birmingham (Ala.) Briarwood Christian took an unofficial visit to Tennessee a week ago and he took his first official visit last weekend with LSU being his destination. He is someone to keep an eye because he likes the idea of playing tight end and LSU is the only school to offer him for that spot.

"I didn't commit but the visit was definitely a 10," Lott said. "I loved everything about the trip. I loved the game and the fans was awesome."

Lott said the coaches asked him for a commitment but he explained why he was holding off from making a decision.

"I explained to them I want to take my officials just to make sure I know what is out there," he said. "Then I will know for sure. They were fine with that and did not have a problem with that at all."

Lott is level headed and does not want to make an impulsive decision but LSU may now be the team to beat.

"I like what they do with the tight end and I love coach (Josh) Henson," he said. "He would be my position coach and I would love to play for a guy like that. He is a lot younger than most coaches and we relate to one another so well."

Bani Gbadyu (6-1, 210, 4.5) of Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard committed to the Tigers over the summer after his camp stop in Baton Rouge and he went back to check things out again.

The three-star linebacker has not wavered on his early pledge and this trip should solidify LSU as the school he signs with in February.

Four-star wide out Sam Shields (6-1, 175, 4.4) of Sarasota (Fla.) Booker popped up late on the visit list and that surprised a few people.

Back in June, Shields was emphatic about his commitment to Miami being a solid verbal. Then about six weeks later he decided he wanted to take some more visits and LSU was his first destination.

In addition to Tim Tebow, there were several high-profile recruits who came in for an unofficial visit and Destrehan's Jai Eugene (6-1, 185, 4.4) is at the top of that list.

There is a new development with the nation's No. 1 cornerback.

Eugene said he has picked up over 45 written offers but he recently trimmed his list down to LSU, Tennessee, USC, Miami, Florida and Michigan.

All throughout his recruitment he has said that he was wide open and that distance would not play a factor in his decision. After spending some time with his son on the sideline did that make him think about staying close to home a little more?

"It sure did," said Eugene. "Every time something would happen my son would start smiling and would get so excited. His face would just light up. I know he would love to be able to come watch me play."

As for Eugene's teammate, Chaz Washington (6-3, 295, 5.0), it looks like the only way he is going to end up at LSU is if he is willing to move to the offensive line.

My source said that he has been told by someone close to the LSU staff that the four-star defensive tackle has been told that he has a scholarship offer if he moves to the other side of the ball. That presents this young man with a tough dilemma because he really likes LSU and wants to stay close to home but he wants to stay on defense.

Na Derris Ward may be the top tight end on LSU's list but not far behind is Richard Dickson of Ocean Springs, Miss.

The 6-3, 245 pound four-star prospect has been waiting to see how big of a part the tight ends are going to play in LSU's offense and he likes what he sees.

"The last three games they started using throwing to their tight ends a lot more," Dickson said. "I talked to coach Miles before the game and he said they were going to start using them more and he has proved that to me. Overall, it was a real fun trip and I had a good time."

There were several other prospects in town over the weekend including LSU commitments Shomari Clemons, Charles Scott, Matt Allen and Al Woods.

The other recruits who were in unofficially included Sumrall (Miss.) offensive tackle Tyler Graves, Brusly safety, Terrance Gay, Brusly running back/safety Chris Butler, West Monroe offensive tackle Mark Snyder and Westgate quarterback/receiver Jared Mitchell.

Be sure to check www.tigerrag.com throughout the week for updates on all of the prospects who were in for visits as there could be another commitment or two looming on the horizon.

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