Stockpiling talent

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

It's another year in the books and another great recruiting class for LSU. Now it's just a matter of getting all of this talent to translate on the field because it hasn't quite done so the past two years.

In 2013, the Tigers had an offense that contained Zach Mettenberger, Jeremy Hill, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry but yet, they finished the year with three losses.

And of course, a year after locking up the second-ranked recruiting class in the nation, LSU fans were forced to watch the team struggle through an 8-5 campaign that was downright ugly at times.

The Tigers have the talent to win a national title.

Last year's class was second to only Alabama and this year's haul is almost as impressive. They finished in most analysts' top 10.

They ranked as high as No. 5 in 24/7 Sports' poll. They were ranked No. 8 by Rivals and No. 10 by ESPN.com.

That should be no surprise. LSU's army of recruiters is one of the best in the country.

Kevin Steele will never be as good of a defensive coordinator as John Chavis, but the man can recruit. When you add Ed Orgeron and Frank Wilson to the mix, LSU should routinely bring in top-10 classes each year.

The Tigers were able to set up a nice fence around the state as they locked up seven of Louisiana's top-10 prospects.

This is always key because Louisiana produces the most NFL players per capita than any other state. It may be small, but the talent here is amazing.

After a dreadful year offensively, LSU was able to reload with offensive recruits.

In the offseason, the Tigers lost two of their veteran running backs in Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee. No problem; they brought in two Baton Rouge studs in Catholic's Derrius Guice and U-High's Nick Brossette.

Guice is as elusive as they come, runs a 4.3 40 and has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Brossette is more of a workhorse that gets stronger as the game goes on.

When you pair them with a Leonard Fournette that now has a year of experience under his belt, LSU should have one of the best backfields in the nation for the next 3-4 years.

After a lackluster class last season when it came to the offensive line, the Tigers cleaned house this year--bringing in second-ranked guard Maea Teuhema and sixth-ranked tackle Chidi Valentine-Okeke.

They will be added to an LSU offensive line that is already set to return three starters next year.

And at receiver, the Tigers keep bringing in blue-chippers. They already have Travin Dural, John Diarse and last year's No. 1 and No. 3 prospects in Malachi Dupre and Trey Quin.

Now, they'll be bringing in the nation's second-ranked receiver in Tyron Johnson along with 6-foot-3 wideout Brandon Martin and West Feliciana's 6-foot-5 Jazz Ferguson.

Defensively, the rich keep getting richer.

An already ultra-talented secondary just got the second-ranked cornerback prospect in Kevin Toliver II and 13th-ranked corner Xavier Lewis.

They also got explosive defensive back Donte' Jackson. Les Miles has already mentioned using Jackson as a punt returner; he even said he could get some touches on offense.

Trying to fill in the huge gap at defensive end with the loss of Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco, the Tigers snagged the nation's sixth-ranked defensive end in Arden Key.

The one hole for LSU was at linebacker. It looked like they would get second-ranked inside linebacker Leo Lewis, but he chose Mississippi State.

With Kwon Alexander already gone, Deion Jones and last year's top linebacker recruit Clifton Garrett will have to step up.

They have the players. Now, can they take that next step?

With the quarterback situation as it currently stands, it just may be another year of underachievement.

The Tigers should have everything you want in a championship contender next year--a solid offensive line, great running backs, great receivers and a very good defense. But none of it will matter if they don't find a consistent passing game.

Can Brandon Harris have a big offseason and develop enough to excel come September? Will the Tigers lure in a big-time transfer like Braxton Miller or Everett Golson?

The answer better be "yes" to one of those questions, or we'll see another great Tiger recruiting class come short of meeting expectations.