BATON ROUGE -- LSU coach Les Miles and his coaching staff hauled in one of the best recruiting classes in college football on Wednesday as the Tigers signed 25 players in what could be considered one of the strongest groups in school history.
Of LSU’s 25 signees, five were named to the prestigious Parade Magazine All-America squad, while six were named All-Americans by USA Today. The class also included 10 members of the EPSNU 150, eight members of the Scout.com 100, and six members of the Rivals.com 100.
LSU’s class was rated No. 1 in the nation by ESPN and No. 2 by Rivals.com.
“I think that this class answered our needs,” Miles said. “It’s nice to be complimented by being ranked number one in the country. Certainly we see this class as a class that we must develop; that we must improve; that we must challenge; we must make it bigger, faster, stronger and more technically competent.
“I’m probably most excited about the character of these men. I don’t really look at how the rankings fare because I feel like the old cliché is two or three years from now you’ll find out how good they were or were not. I see them as guys that will do very well in the classroom and guys that will represent this school very well off the field. Potentially, this is the style of class that competes for championships year after year and people will be attracted to the style of men that we recruited this year.”
Six members of the 2009 signing class have already enrolled at LSU, a group that includes all-everything quarterback Russell Shepard. Shepard is concerned the top dual-threat quarterback prospect in this year’s class. He finished his high school career with more than 8,000 yards of total offense and 98 touchdowns. He accounted for nearly 4,000 yards and 48 TDs as a senior.
Other highlights of the class include Bastrop High School wide receiver Rueben Randle, who is widely considered the nation’s top prospect at his position. Randle, who played quarterback as a senior in 2008, recorded 2,461 yards and 20 touchdowns through the air, while rushing for 683 yards and 12 scores. He is considered the top prospect in Louisiana.
Michael Ford, a running back from Leesville, La., comes to LSU after rushing for 2,953 yards and 29 TDs as senior. Ford, who earned both Parade and USA Today All-America honors in 2008, had nine games of 200-yards or better in 2008, including a career-high 443 yards and six TDs in a win over Tioga.
On defense, safety Craig Loston, defensive end Sam Montgomery and defensive tackle Chris Davenport highlighted that group. Loston is considered the nation’s No. 1 safety prospect. He was named to the Parade and USA Today All-America teams.
Montgomery, rated as the No. 2 defensive end prospect by ESPNU, had 11 sacks as a senior for Greenwood High School. Davenport earned USA Today All-America honors despite playing in just four games as a senior due to an injury. In four games, Davenport still recorded 45 tackles and nine sacks for Mansfield High School.
LSU’s class included 13 players from the state of Louisiana, four from Texas, two from Georgia and one each from Alabama, California, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.
“We do what we can to control this state and we’ve done so very effectively during our tenure here,” Miles said of recruiting Louisiana. “It’s always been our view that ‘in-state first’, but we offer national credentials with our academics; our school is well respected throughout the country, so we have great attraction to those surrounding states and those people that have proximity.”
LSU will now turn its attention to spring practice, which starts on March 12. The annual LSU Spring Game is scheduled for April 18 in Tiger Stadium.
Signing Day Press Conference
February 4, 2009
LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES
Opening Statement ...
“We’re very fortunate to represent a great school and a great community. It’s easy to honestly display great opportunities, careers and outcomes. Certainly doing that honestly and accurately, we should have a nationally ranked class. I have to give great credit to my coaching staff. They’re quality men and they represent us extremely well; they work very hard at recruiting. The support staff that surrounds our recruiting effort is tremendous. Again, I’m very fortunate to represent a great community and a great opportunity.”
On the class overall...
“Our guys are having the style of experience that represents what’s great in college football. With each class you have to answer questions that your team needs answered. I think this class did that. I think there’s a good balance. We took nine offensive players; 12 defensive players. We got a punter that certainly answers a need. If you look at the statistics, we had six USA Today All-Americans, we had five Parade All-Americans. Again we do what we can to control this state and we’ve done so very effectively during our tenure here. We took twelve in-state student-athletes and four from Texas, two from Georgia, one from Alabama, one from California, one from Kansas, one from Mississippi and one from South Carolina and Tennessee. It’s always been our view that ‘in-state first’, but we offer a national credential in our academics; our school is well respected throughout the country, so we have great attraction to those surrounding states and those people that have proximity.”
On the defensive line recruits...
"We had real needs in the defensive line. If you look at the number of defensive ends that we graduate, we graduated our top three defensive ends, so we had to replace a position that was key to us to have great defense. We really think we did that. Certainly Josh Downs from Bastop and Chris Davenport from Mansfield are both inside guys; strong, big, capable men. Akiem Hicks, a junior college guy from California, who is a very mature, very big, strong, athletic man, is going to help us inside. Michael Brockers from Texas and Bennie Logan from Red River and Sam Montgomery, who is arguably one of the top defensive end prospects in the country really fill the void that we had due to graduation.”
On the linebacking recruits ...
"Staying on the defensive side, we graduate Darry Beckwith and there’s a void in the middle of that linebacking core, but we’re getting veteran so it’s time we had a big linebacking class. We took Barkevious Mingo; his nickname is ‘Key-key”, from West Monroe, a big, tall, athletic, rangy, tough guy that can very well be any number of positions. He’s so athletic that he fits us as a rush, a guy that can cover out in the flat and come off the edge and rush or blitz. Lamin Barrow from Ehret was big, strong guy we had here in camp and is going to be a tremendous player for us. Kevin Minter, from Georgia, is a guy that is already on our campus and has gained eight pounds since he’s been here and it’s very good weight, but he’s athletic and strong. Tahj Jones, another guy from right here in-state, is another 6’3 athletic man. Again, we felt like we had to have a strong linebacking class; we did that.
On the defensive back recruits ...
"In the secondary, we recruited well. We needed some safeties. Obviously Craig Loston is a very athletic, very capable, tough safety from Texas. We took Josh Johns from right here in Louisiana. In my opinion, he’s a guy who’s going to develop and have athleticism. He’s a guy we had in camp and he’s tough and is going to give us great overview in the secondary. We’re hanging fire on a corner in this state. We feel very confident there, certainly, but one that we continue to recruit and one who is very important to us. We took a couple of athletes who have offensive and defensive skill. Drayton Calhoun, we probably think will play on the offensive side and carry the football. He’s from Georgia and he’s on campus and developing for us. Morris Claiborne is a great athlete who can either play receiver or in the secondary somewhere.
On the offensive line recruits ...
"On the offensive side, whenever you look at a class it has to have speed, it has to have size, it has to have strength and if you look at our offensive line it has that. Carneal Ainsworth, a guy from Parkview here in Baton Rouge joins us and he’ll probably play in the interior of our offensive line. Josh Williford from Houston Academy in Alabama is a huge man we had in camp and he actually played in a basketball game not too long ago and he had 22 rebounds and 20 points. That just shows you the style of athlete that he is. Chris Faulk from Northshore was a Parade All-American and a big, strong, humble man. He’s just the kind of Louisiana guy that you’d want to come in and work hard and I look forward to a great career for him. Stavion Lowe from Brownwood, Texas is another nationally talented guy that was recruited across the country, but chose to spend his college years with us here in Louisiana.
On the quarterback recruits ...
"At quarterback, it’s well documented that we needed to have a great quarterback class and that certainly will be a need filled. Russell Shepard, the Cy-Ridge quarterback is certainly highly touted, very athletic throwing the football. He has the ability to do both (run and throw). We’re going to look at him very long and hard and allow him to compete to play. Chris Garrett comes from Tupelo, Miss. He’s a 6’4, strong, very accurate passer, in my opinion he’s a guy that deserves an opportunity to come in here and compete to play. It suffices to say there’s a nice walk-on candidate at quarterback and I’ll just leave it at that.
On the running back recruits ...
"I like our running back Michael Ford from Leesville. We had him in camp and he’s just an exceptional player. In an all-star game, the first play from scrimmage, he takes it 82 yards on a screen. He’s got great speed and the ability to catch the ball out of the back field. Certainly we see him as a very fine back. We took a big back and losing Quinn Johnson, we needed a fullback. Dominique Allen from Henry County, Tenn. is a 5’11, 250-pound very capable player, so again it meets a need.
On special teams ...
"We took a punter, Derek Helton, from Fort Scott junior college. He’s already on campus and he’s a guy that will come in and give us great strength on special teams.
On the class as a whole again ...
“I think that this class answered needs and ultimately it is how these people fit with the people on our campus that makes the difference. It’s nice to be complimented by being ranked number one in the country. Certainly we see this class as a class that we must develop; that we must improve; that we must challenge; we must make it bigger, faster, stronger and more technically competent. I’m probably most excited about the character of these men. I don’t really look at how the rankings fare because I feel like the old cliché is two or three years from now you’ll find out how good they were or were not. I see them as guys that will do very well in the classroom and guys that will represent this school very well off the field. Potentially, this is the style of class that competes for championships year after year and people will be attracted to the style of men that we recruited this year. There will be people that come on our campus and be hosted by them and say, ‘Wow, I want to be around these guys.’ So I’m excited. This is a very good class and one that we’ll look forward to following for years.”