A loaded year for talent in the Pelican State lands LSU in the top ten.
-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
Athlon Sports continues its Class of 2011 national team recruiting rankings today with the No. 8 class in the nation.
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8. LSU Tigers (22 signees – 5 AC100)
This might have been the most talented senior class in the history of Pelican State football. Much like Mark Richt in Georgia, Les Miles capitalized on a rich in-state collection by landing six of the top seven Louisiana prospects. Sixteen of the 22 Tiger signees hail from in-state – including the nation’s No. 2 offensive lineman (La’El Collins), No. 1 defensive tackle (Anthony Johnson) and No. 2 wide receiver (Jarvis Landry).
In fact, the internal rallying cry for "The Fam," a self-ordnained nickname for this class, was spearheaded by the record-setting Johnson. This was recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson's first full class and his impact was clear, but he got plenty of help from Johnson. The big defensive tackle recruited for the Tigers as hard as the LSU staff did. The Fam nickname resulted from the homegrown Johnson wanting to keep the Pelican prospects together to win a title at LSU.
The affable Johnson has enrolled early, will be participating in spring practice and has already entrenched himself as one of the leaders of the 2011 class.
Johnson, Collins, AC100 end Jermauria Rasco and nationally rated nose guard Mickey Johnson (6'1" 310) form a strong front line on both sides of the ball. Miles landed eight line-of-scrimmage players in all – four for each side of the ball. Trai Turner is a big (6'5" 340) name to keep an eye on.
The skill positions are also well represented, with four nationally rated receivers and backs (depending on what happens with Jeremy Hill). Landry, NFL legacy Kenny Hilliard and former Georgia Bulldog quarterback Zach Mettenberger are the gems of this skill group. Mettenberger is a ready-made starter who has experience in an SEC program. He could easily take the job from the largely ineffective Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. The struggles at this position over the last few years might have been the only thing holding this team back – well, other than terrible end-game management.
Hilliard, the nephew of former Tiger and NFLer Dalton Hilliard, has prototypical running back size at six-feet and nearly 220 pounds. He topped 4,000 yards and scored 54 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Landry does not have prototype wideout size, but has electric playmaking ability. Expect him, and athlete Terrance Magee – who led his high school squad to a 4A state championship while earning Offensive Player of the Year honors – to be used in unique and interesting ways on offense. Landry, MaGee and nationally rated Odell Beckham Jr. form one of the better wide receiver classes in the nation.
A four-man secondary class – which could grow to five or six – replenishes the defensive backfield. Miles landed only one linebacker in this class, but Trevon Randle could be the most underrated player in this haul. Randle brings extraordinary speed and athleticism to a linebacking corps that has lost leader Kevlin Sheppard.
No. 3 La’El Collins, OL (Baton Rouge, La.)
No. 8 Anthony Johnson, DT (New Orleans, La.)
No. 19 Jarvis Landry, WR (Lutcher, La.)
No. 81 Jermauria Rasco, DE (Shreveport, La.)
No. 89 Kenny Hilliard, RB (Patterson, La.)
No. 114 Odell Backham, Jr., ATH (New Orleans, La.)
No. 171 David Jenkins, CB (Carrollton, Texas)
No. 180 Jeremy Hill, RB (Baton Rouge, La.)*
No. 197 Trevon Randle, LB (League City, Texas)
No. 236 Mickey Johnson, DT (Covington, La.)
* - Hill is still committed to LSU and could still sign pending the resolution of an arrest/charge stemming from a “serious crime” back on Jan. 12.