NSD PREVIEW: Miles Closes in on Top 10 Class

With 24 commitments heading into last weekend, LSU appears to have one of the top recruiting classes in the country again in 2008.

Class of 2008

Scattered throughout the Tigers' Top 10 nationally ranked class is one five-star prospect, 10 four-stars and12 three-stars.

On the national scale, LSU is once again neck and neck with familiar recruiting powerhouses such as Georgia, Notre Dame, Miami, Florida State, Florida and, of course, the Nick Saban-led Alabama Crimson Tide. As of this past weekend, Alabama passed Notre Dame and became the top class of '08 – which could possibly change depending on what occurs on signing day.

LSU fans need not let the Alabama hype ruin their Mardi Gras spirit, though. LSU coach Les Miles has once again proved he can hold his own on the recruiting trail.

Rounding out the top of the class are defensive studs that could come in and contribute immediately in the secondary – a position that is looking a little light on the depth chart after the exodus of Chevis Jackson, Craig Steltz and Jonathan Zenon to the NFL.

The ultimate commitment of the class has to be defensive secondary phenom Patrick Johnson. The five-star prospect committed to the purple and gold after renouncing his previous pledge to the Miami Hurricanes. Once again, LSU went down to the talent-rich southern Florida area and snatched up one of their best players.

Johnson is a physical corner that attacks the ball and receiver routes violently and has the ability to possibly be a difference-maker as a true freshman. Listed as the number one cornerback prospect in the country, Johnson was heavily recruited by SEC rivals Florida and Georgia before he decided on LSU.

Just a short 20-mile drive up the road from Johnson's hometown is where Miles and staff picked up four-star safety Karnell Hatcher. The native of Delray Beach, Fla., is known to pack one of the hardest punches in the country. A hard hitter who prides himself on being able to read quarterbacks, Hatcher was heavily recruited by all of the Florida schools.

Ryan Baker, the third member of the LSU "Sunshine Trio" in this year's class, was taken right out of Florida State's backyard.

Literally.

The Blountstown, Fla., native grew up 10 minutes from Tallahassee and had always dreamed of playing for the Seminoles. The coaching staff won Baker over on his visit to Baton Rouge, which just so happened to be the weekend of the Tigers' 2007 National Championship celebration at storied Tiger Stadium. The Tiger coaching staff views Baker coming in and possibly being used like an Ali Highsmith – one of Baker's mentors.

The No. 6-ranked linebacker in the country was recruited by every major college football program.

Along with Florida, the Lone Star state will be well represented in the Tigers' '08 defensive class.

The versatile defensive end Chancey Aghayere was the Tigers' first huge commitment of this class. LSU dipped in and grabbed the then-five-star prospect – but four-star now for unknown reasons – at the beginning of October. Aghayere, ranked as the No. 7 defensive end in the country, made a living out of making high school tackles look befuddled. The 6-3, 240-pound defensive end should be a key contributor to the Tigers for years to come but likely will not find himself on the defensive line next season with seniors Kirston Pittman, Tremaine Johnson and Tyson Jackson coming back for '08. Not to mention junior Rahim Alem and redshirt freshmen Will Blackwell and Sidell Corley competing for their place in the mix.

The Tigers also grabbed four-star linebacker Kyle Prater out of the state of Texas. Prater is listed as one of the top 10 linebackers in the country and stacked up numerous awards his senior season at Tivy High School in Kerrville, Texas. Along with aggressive play and above-average speed, Prater brings to the table an impressive high school cumulative GPA of 3.5.

The Tigers picked up a pair of stellar athletes with the commitment of the Taylor brothers from Franklinton. Brandon Taylor is considered one of the top cornerback prospects in the state of Louisiana and has the ability to be a future lock-down corner.

His brother Jhyryn has experience at both wide receiver and cornerback and plays much bigger than his 6-0, 176-pound frame.

But as far as the best commitment out of the Bayou State goes, it has to be Chase Clement of Thibodaux's E.D. White. Clement was used as a tight end and linebacker during his senior season, in which he earned the 3A Defensive Player of the Year award for the state of Louisiana. With a huge frame and long, rangy arms, the 6-5, 240-pound Clement will almost surely play on the defensive line for the Tigers.

At possibly the most stacked position on the team, LSU landed a pair of four-star in-state wide receivers.

Chris Tolliver had a fairly quiet year statistically as a senior after a breakout All-State-worthy year as a junior. The Rayville High product received intense attention from opposing defenses all season long, which led to the emergence of two younger Rayville receivers in the receiving yards category. An impressive kick returner with blazing speed, Tolliver may eventually find his niche on the Tiger squad in that regard. But he may not see the field much in '08 as a wideout with so much talent in that position coming back next season.

Desire Street Academy's DeAngelo Peterson – who committed to the Tigers back in July of '07 – brings another future threat at the talent-rich wide receiver position on the LSU depth chart.

The Tigers are getting a pair of four-star tight ends from the North Louisiana area.

Tyler Edwards of Ouachita High School in Monroe was considered by many to be one of the top tight ends in the country. Statistically stymied by coaching style this season, Edwards was rarely used at Ouachita offensively – one of his strong points. The 6-4, 240-pounder is a great blocker and gives defenses problems because of his speed.

A few miles down the road from Monroe in Sterlington is where Matt Branch played his prep ball. The 6-7, 245-pound Branch played defensive tackle along with his tight end duties this season for Sterlington. Branch has the frame to add some weight, so don't be surprised if you see him on the offensive line when it's said and done.

Also at tight end, LSU received the commitment of Desire Street Academy's Lavar Edwards. Edwards, who spent the majority of his career at fullback, moved to tight end for his senior year because of his sure hands and physical nature. A three-star recruit, Edwards is a true athlete that played basketball, baseball and even threw the shot at the track meets.

"He's the one that I think has the most upside of anybody because he can do it all," said

Desire Street
head coach Mickey Joseph. "I wish he would get a little meaner. He's just such a nice kid."

Destrehan High School walked through class 5A in Louisiana this season with an undefeated record and a state title. Two pieces of their scoring machine, which averaged 39 points per game, are part of this year's class. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson and wide receiver Timothy Molton were a lethal combination this season, hooking up for 10 touchdowns.

Jefferson – listed as a three-star prospect– has flown somewhat under the radar despite showing the arm and ability that most big programs look for. The 6-4 Jefferson might be the most talented quarterback on next year's team next to Ryan Perrilloux, but he is considered by many to still be fairly raw.


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