WR 6-3, 195, 4.5 Bastrop (La.)
Jr. Stats: 55 catches for 1,058 yards and 11 TDs/Returned three punts for a touchdown
The Latest: Everyone wants to know what is going on with Rueben Randle and why things are so quiet on his front and all it takes is talking with the 5-star wide out one time to realize he is not one that feels the need to get all of the attention that goes along with recruiting these days. This spring, he has already taken unofficial visits to Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and LSU. He is scheduled to camp at Miami and don’t be surprised if he breaks off to Tuscaloosa, Starkville and Baton Rouge over the summer. Randle is going to spend the summer working on his passing skills since he will be playing quarterback during his senior campaign and he should be a joy to watch when he lines up in the shotgun and takes off. And if you think the kid can’t throw the ball then think again.
Can LSU Land Randle: LSU has done very well recruiting Bastrop players under Les Miles and the Tigers’ headman and Bastrop’s head coach Brad Bradshaw have a very good relationship. Some worry that LSU signed too many receivers in the 2008 class and that has Randle looking elsewhere but competition isn’t going to scare this kid off. Sure, Randle could go some places and be an instant starter and be “the guy” but this kid isn’t worried about being the big man on campus and he has such a strong support system in place that he will look at all of the factors before making a decision.
The Competition: Some may balk at this notion but Mississippi State is a major player in these sweepstakes. Keep a very close eye on the Bulldogs and Sylvester Croom but do not count out Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida and Miami to name a few.
Sonny’s Take: I’ve stated all along that I thought LSU was in a good place with Randle and I still feel like that if signing day was this Wednesday then LSU would get his signature. I don’t think the number of receivers LSU signed for 2008 will be a deterrent because Randle is that good and he knows he is that good. He is not cocky at all but the young man is confident in his abilities. While I do think LSU is the team to beat, I think Mississippi State is going to make things very interesting in the coming months very similar to how Alabama did with Chris Tolliver. Many who live outside of the state of Mississippi and who have been to Starkville can’t imagine why anyone would want to go to school there because of the surroundings and lack of attractions you get in a big city. However, with some young men that is what they are looking for. Another big plus for the Bulldogs is Sylvester Croom. He relates very well with recruits, particularly the ones that are very strong-minded and no-nonsense types. In the end, though, I think LSU wins out for Randle’s signature for a few reasons. One, he is used to winning and playing for championships and he will get that at LSU. Two, I don’t think being part of a rebuilding job is something that will attract him when it is time to make a decision. Finally, I think the distance factor will help LSU but the biggest reason I feel that way is that gut feeling I have after working in this business for nine-plus years and getting a read on so many kids.
Scouting Report: Some have tried to compare Rueben Randle to former Bastrop wide out and 2008 signee DeAngelo Benton. While they are built similar, the comparisons end there in my book. Randle is much more elusive and more dangerous after the catch. He uses his hands very well and does not have the tendency that many young receivers have of letting the ball get into their body. He runs good routes and is able to stick his foot in the ground and cut without losing much speed. His size will cause some matchup problems for corners and he is only going to get bigger. He hasn’t had to block as much as he will be called upon to do at the next level so there will be a learning curve on that end but it shouldn’t be too steep.
S 6-2, 195, 4.4 Houston (Texas) Eisenhower
Jr. Stats: 92 tackles (74 solos) and three interceptions
The Latest: Tiger fans were up in arms when Craig Loston’s mother allegedly said he would be announcing his decision on the Wednesday after he returned from his unofficial visit to Clemson a few weeks back. The key word is “allegedly” because everyone now knows that there never was a scheduled announcement. I spoke with Craig at length over in Dallas at our combine and while he did say that he was leaning To Clemson he also made it perfectly clear that he wants to visit LSU, USC, Miami, and Oregon before making a decision. Whether or not those visits take place remains to be seen but look for him to make a decision sometime in June or July with July being the best bet.
Can LSU Land Loston: The common argument you hear for why he would choose Clemson over LSU is depth but if you look at the safety situation in Baton Rouge it has to look appealing and especially for the nation’s top ranked safety. After the 2009 campaign, LSU will lose Danny McCray, Harry Coleman, and quite possibly Chad Jones if he elects to leave early for the NFL. That leaves Karnell Hatcher, Stefoin Francois, Rocky Duplessis, and possibly Derrick Bryant. With the way the coaches like to use a safety as the nickel or dime back, it isn’t much of a reach to say that Loston could see the field as a true freshman for the Tigers because his cover skills look to be much more advanced than anyone else LSU will have outside of McCray and Jones assuming that only one safety is signed in this class and there aren’t any position changes. So, when I look at the two situations at LSU and Clemson I just don’t see that the opportunity to play right away is so much greater at Clemson. Will it be easier for him to start at Clemson? Sure it would considering the depth chart. But, if Loston takes other things into consideration then I think that there are other factors that will even the scales up.
The Competition: Other schools like Miami, USC and Oregon were tossed around the last time I spoke with Loston but the feeling here is that this is a two-team race between Clemson and LSU with the possibility of a dark horse entering the picture in Texas A&M.
Sonny’s Take: This is and will be a battle for Loston’s signature but I think LSU is in a good place considering that the 5-star safety has not been to LSU yet for anything outside of a camp. He hasn’t gotten the red carpet treatment like he received on the East Coast and, more importantly, mom has not seen the facilities at LSU, let alone, the Cox Academic Center. The key for the staff is to get the top ranked safety to Baton Rouge at some point this summer before he makes a decision and if it is successful at getting him on campus then things could, and in my opinion will, even up or tip the scales into LSU’s favor. That drive from Houston is a lot easier and more economical to make than flying to South Carolina and I will be shocked if that doesn’t play a big factor in the end. And speaking of the end (signing day), I think LSU comes out on top.
Scouting Report: When you watch Craig Loston on the limited film that we have the one thing that really sticks out is his physical style of play. The kid is a punishing and sure tackler. However, when I saw him at Dallas I was as impressed with what he did as I have ever been from watching kids at combines. He is built like a linebacker but he has the hips and footwork of someone in the 5-10, 175-pound range. He has exceptional ball skills with good lateral range and he covers the entire field. He has fluid hips and is smooth in transition when turning and running. Loston weighed in at 190 pounds because he has lost a lot of weight due to running track so it will be interesting to see how he performs in the 205-210 range that he will likely be in come September. If you’re looking for that “It Factor” or “Wow Factor” then look no further because Loston has both.
RB 5-11, 210, 4.5 Pensacola (Fla.) Escambia
Jr. Stats: Rushed for 1,490 yards and 15 TDs in seven games
The Latest: Trent Richardson was one of the guys who paid his own way to travel over to LSU for the spring game. The talented back told us that he had a great time and the trip was everything he thought it would be. I spoke to him again last week and he said that he hasn’t been talking to a lot of coaches because he has been focusing on getting ready for spring ball but he said he does stay in contact with LSU Recruiting Coordinator Josh Henson. LSU is one of the many schools that Richardson is expecting a visit from beginning early next week when spring practice heats up.
Can LSU Land Richardson: With two of the nation’s Top 10 running backs already committed for 2009 in Michael Ford and Dexter Pratt, some wonder if there is room for Richardson? The answer is yes and he is highly coveted by the staff. We’ve talked about the running back situation at LSU and also the guys coming in for ’09 but there is very little to no concern on Richardson’s part about a possible logjam.
The Competition: Texas, Alabama, Florida and Florida State are heavy hitters when it comes to Richardson along with Auburn and Clemson. Any school that comes into the picture and that is known for turning out great running backs will likely be considered as well.
Sonny’s Take: It is hard to imagine that a school could pull three of the country’s top running backs in the same class but many would not have thought that LSU would land Keiland Williams, Charles Scott and Richard Murphy all in the same class either. If Richardson’s brother would not be living an hour away from Baton Rouge at ULL then I think the interest level would be considerably less on his part but his brother has played a key role in his development as a player but more importantly as a young man. Josh Henson has done a terrific job of recruiting Richardson and is close to the family. It always helps to have mom on your side too and Richardson told us that she feels real comfortable with Henson. This is one of those situations where it is way too early to get a solid feel on but I think LSU is under strong consideration but trailing Texas and Alabama.
Scouting Report: Trent Richardson has terrific balance and he has the speed to hit the corner. Since most of his runs on our clips were taking a pitch to the outside you don’t get a good feel for his vision. One thing you do get a good feel for is his power and strength because he doesn’t take licks from defenders rather he delivers them. He has a low center of gravity and does a lot of the little things some kids struggle with like staying square and using his off hand while running. When Scout.com’s rankings are update in the coming days look for Richardson to make a strong move into the Scout 300.
DT 6-2, 270, 4.7 Destrehan (La.)
Jr. Stats: 88 tackles, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles
The Latest: The offers are starting to pile up for Darrington Sentimore and for good reason because the kid is a phenomenal player. According to Sentimore, Alabama, Colorado, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Auburn, and South Carolina are a few of the schools to offer but he says the total number is well into the teen’s. Grades are the only reason that Sentimore has not picked as many offers as some of the other defensive tackles you hear about and they are one of the reasons LSU hasn’t offered yet. Look for more offers to come his way when coaches make their way over to Destrehan during the evaluation period and when he goes to some camps this summer.
Can LSU Land Sentimore: The question isn’t whether LSU can land the nation’ 14th ranked defensive tackle but will the Tigers offer? The numbers are extremely tight right now and depending on how they shape up heading into the 2008 season along with how much Sentimore progresses on the academic front will likely determine whether or not that offer comes his way.
The Competition: Alabama is the team to beat as of now but if Sentimore would have an offer from the Tigers like he reports from the Crimson Tide then that would not be the case. Bama got in on him early and that will play to its advantage but things will open up more if Miami and some of the other schools that are still evaluating him step up with an offer.
Sonny’s Take: If Sentimore finishes as strongly in the classroom as he anticipates then interest on LSU’s part should pick up. Any other year and the local product would probably already have an offer but when you factor in the numbers and the high level of interest coming from the top two defensive tackles in the country in JaMarcus McFarland and Chris Davenport it makes it a dicey situation. If Sentimore gets on track to qualify then I think he is too good to pass on and LSU will eventually offer but I think he is the type of kid that you need to get on early and the longer he goes without an offer then the bigger challenge it will be to pull him in.
Scouting Report: I watched Sentimore twice as a junior and both times he was the best player on the field. His quickness and tenacity set him apart from others and although the phrase is tossed around too often he is a true sideline-to-sideline player. He moves extremely well for someone playing down in the trenches and he has big strong hands that he uses well to get off blocks.