LSU's defense impresses Moss Point star

A few players have found their way from Moss Point, Miss., to Baton Rouge over the years with the most recent LSU acquisitions being defensive end Kareem Mitchell and offensive lineman Al Jackson.<br><br>This year, Nick Saban hopes he can pull one of the top linebackers in the South in Moss Point's Marquis McBeath (6-1, 217, 4.6). He was a first team All-Coast performer last year with 129 tackles and three sacks, along with earning several player-of-the-year awards in his region.

McBeath's first official visit will be to LSU on Oct. 18 when the Tigers host South Carolina. His other four official trips are tentatively set for Ole Miss, Florida, Auburn and Alabama but he has not set any of them up yet.


Linebackers are one of Saban's top priorities for the 2003 recruiting class and that bodes well with McBeath, who is fully qualified to play as a freshman.


"LSU has a need for linebackers and I feel like I could go in and fill that need," McBeath said. "With Bradie James leaving, that leaves the middle open and a spot for me to go in and show my talent. I think I would be a good asset to the team."


If McBeath decides to sign with the Tigers he could keep up the Tigers' tradition of being strong in the middle in Saban's regime.


"On the field I'm a leader and very aggressive," McBeath said. "I'm a run stopper so teams do not gain many yards on our defense. I am very physical and I have pretty good speed that allows me to move from sideline to sideline. I also read defenses well from watching film every day."


LSU's rich tradition is one of the main reasons McBeath took an interest in the Tigers but it is not the only reason he likes Saban's program.


"Ever since coach Saban got there, they have been winning and they are winning this year," he said. "Then with the linebacker situation, I feel like I could go in and play early. That is a factor because I want to play early."


Tradition and early playing time are also two of the things he likes about Saban's two main competitors, Florida and Ole Miss.


"Florida has a winning tradition and it is always in the top 25," he said. "It seems like Florida is always winning. Ole Miss is losing four linebackers this year and from what coach Cutcliffe told me, I could go in and start as a freshman. Plus, Ole Miss has four players on its roster from Moss Point."


Many think that Moss Point's ties with the Ole Miss program will be tough for Saban to overcome, but LSU's connection with Mitchell and Jackson may even the odds for the Tigers' head coach. Mitchell, who lettered for the Tigers in 1999 and 2000, was a strength and conditioning graduate assistant last season at LSU.


"That has a lot to do with my decision and will come into play," McBeath said. "I get to get the inside on how the coaches treat the players from Kareem. That gives me a little edge, plus the fact that I can get on the inside with some of the players there now."


McBeath's trip to Baton Rouge will be his first chance to see Tiger Stadium first hand but it has already made quite an impression on him.


"I like it a lot," he said. "It's one of the top 10 largest stadiums in the country and the fans really get into the game. I hear those Cajuns are crazy and that seems to help the team play better."


McBeath said LSU defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is doing a good job of recruiting him and he is very impressed with what Muschamp has accomplished in only his first year of running the Tigers' defense, along with Saban, who is considered a defensive guru.


"It's a real good thing that my defensive coordinator used to coach my position because that means he can teach me a lot," McBeath said. "With coach Saban being a defensive man, that shows why they have one of the best defenses in the country. It would be great to play on one of the best defenses in the country. That is another thing that will play a big part for me."


Playing at a high profile school like LSU was always a dream for McBeath, along with making it to the National Football League.


"At first I just wanted to make it to a big time college but now my goal is to go in and start right away," he said. "The NFL is always a goal but the probability of making it is slim because that is the best of the best. But that is my goal because I really want to play there."

If he continues to progress as well as he has the past four years then the NFL may not be too big of a long shot for this promising star.

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