Tyrann Mathieu - CB
St. Augustine High
Mathieu is on the smaller side (5-9, 170), but the New Orleans native makes up for it with terrific speed and an innate ability to change direction without losing ground – a must for cornerbacks who hope to make their way through college playing on Saturdays in the SEC.
The word in June was that Mathieu showed up to summer workouts in game shape, and the big reviews on his talent weren’t far behind. He will play second fiddle to a couple of talented corners in Patrick Peterson and Mo Claiborne, but there’s a definite gap between the top names and the second group of Ron Brooks, Ryan St. Julien and Drayton Calhoun.
The question becomes, could a strong fall camp by Mathieu catapult him into the mix?
Kadron Boone – WR
Trinity High (Fla.)
First-year coach Billy Gonzales and his group of wide receivers were one of the lone spots forced to work with walk-on players in the spring. Translation: the freshmen names that showed up in the summer had to step up.
While reviews on Belle Chase’s James Wright and Slidell’s Armand Williams have been positive, it’s a name out of the Sunshine State – Ocala’s Kadron Boone – that has stolen the summer spotlight.
Boone has the body (he’s reported at 6-1, 205-pounds) to make an impact right away. And once you let him loose, Boone produces. He catches anything in sight, and he’s got the ability to get past defensive backs with great speed.
Maybe most importantly for a freshman looking to bust into the mix, Boone’s biggest praise from coaches in high school came for his competitiveness. The top three names in Terrance Toliver, Rueben Randle and Russell Shepard are set, but spots appear up for grabs after that.
Justin Maclin – LB
Ridgeway High (Tenn.)
Much like Boone, Maclin should be helped onto the field early by a lack of depth – this time at linebacker. The Tigers lost Harry Coleman, Perry Riley and Jacob Cutrera to graduation, leaving the 2010 roster thin on bodies with experience.
Senior Kelvin Sheppard is the anchor in the middle, but the names on the outside aren’t so locked in. If spring was any indication, the staff has penciled in Ryan Baker on the weakside and Stefoin Francois on the strongside. Redshirt freshmen Kevin Minter, Lamin Barrow and Tahj Jones are expected to slot in as the two-deep names.
Enter the 6-foot-4 Maclin, who is carrying 235-plus pounds and plenty of good reviews into fall camp. Maclin once entertained the idea of dropping down to the line and playing defensive end in college, but coordinator John Chavis has kept the Memphis native behind Baker at outside linebacker. While success will be gauged at a later date, the decision to keep Maclin standing up will certainly get him on the field sooner.
Eric Reid – S
Eric Reid looked the part of a college safety at this time last year, so there should be little doubt that the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder can make a seamless transition to playing on Saturdays.
While Reid battled shoulder injuries for most of his high school career, playing through his entire senior year without being sidelined helped build momentum behind the Geismar native’s play-now approach to his freshman year at LSU.
Behind converted cornerback Brandon Taylor at safety, Reid should see time in both a back up and special teams role. With Jai Eugene, Karnell Hatcher and Craig Loston working at the opposite spot, talent at the position should be of little worry to the Tigers over the coming years.
Evan Washington – OL
The final name from the 2010 signing class – Miami’s Jakhari Gore - came across the wire on Monday of this week.
Evan Washington – far ahead of the pack – enrolled at LSU last January, the lone freshman name to do so.
A mass communications major, Washington used the extra time to get a jump-start on his studies – and his competition. Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa moved his newest body in and out of work with the two-deep in the spring, a chance for the 6-foot-5, 290-pounder to get his first taste of the speed of play in the SEC. The feedback remained positive, and during fall camp Washington could secure his name as the first one Studrawa looks to if a fresh body is needed at tackle.