After a look at the recruits that LSU landed on the offensive side of the football yesterday, today we turn our attention to the defensive side of the football — where the Tigers strengthened their unit significantly for the future.
As it is, we still aren’t sure how many recruits LSU has on offense. The class is done on that side, but with WR Stephen Sullivan and 260 pound RB Devin White both candidates to switch to defense the amount of help the offense is getting could shrink a bit.
Things are a little more settled on the defensive side. No one is moving around, at least not very much. Saivion Smith is currently listed as a CB, but some fans see the 6’1″ athlete as a safety.
Asking whether Smith is a better fit at corner or safety overlooks a third possibility: Tigers coaches may use Smith in the hybrid Safety/Nickel Corner role made famous by Tyrann Mathieu.
Like Mathieu, Smith lacks elite speed but his size and ball skills make this an intriguing possibility. Smith is currently enrolled and should get a lot of looks in spring football.
Michael Divinity is also enrolled, and at a position of real need. The linebacker unit is the thinnest group on the roster.
Kendell Beckwith returning helps, and the Tigers have two experienced backups returning in former high school track stars Duke Riley and Donnie Alexander. There should be a role in the two-deep chart and possibly in the starting lineup for Divinity.
Les Miles told the press in the wake of signing day that LSU had the top defensive line and defensive back groups in the country. Archbishop Rummel CB Kristian Fulton is a big part of the excitement here.
Cornerback is stacked at DBU next year. Tre White, Kevin Toliver II, Dwayne Thomas, Donte Jackson, Russel Gage and Ed Paris are all returning. Fulton will still push for immediate playing time even in that group.
The defensive line is another stacked unit, returning all four starters and all four players on the two deep chart at defensive tackle. 5 Star athlete Rashard Lawrence is another freshman who will push for playing time from day one in a crowded position group.
Sep 21, 2015; Monroe, LA, USA; Neville High School (La.) defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence poses for photographs in his jersey as part of the 2016 Under Armour All-America Game Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
LSU has lost some recruits from Monroe to Alabama in recent years, and Ohio State was in on this recruitment as well. Keeping the number two player in the state at home for the next four years was a critical victory for Les Miles and his coaching staff.
Houston has been kind to LSU for many years and pulling one of the top safeties in the country out of Houston fills a major need for the Tigers. With Jalen Mills gone one of the safety spots is wide open.
Jamal Adams will start with John Battle behind him on strong safety duty but Eric Monroe can push Ricky Jefferson for the free safety spot. Monroe has the size, speed and cover skills that are prized in a free safety so this should be a natural fit for him.
Edwin Alexander is another massive DT who will push for time in the rotation from day one. His skill set is very close to Rashard Lawrence’s, Like Lawrence he was considered one of the ten best players in the country at his position.
Glen Logan is another homegrown product in this class of great defensive linemen. He was graded slightly behind Edwin Alexander and Rashard Lawrence but like them has the body and skill set that translate to the NFL with proper development.
Rahssan Thornton and Andre Anthony are both listed as defensive ends but both are built more like linebackers and that is where they project at the next level.
This is a good thing, because LB is a major area of need and LSU’s coaching staff missed out on several major LB recruits.
With Michael Divinity already enrolled along with possible LB convert Devin White Thornton and Anthony fill out a good group that should fit new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s scheme.
Andraez “Greedy” Wiliams did not get quite as much love from recruiting services as Kristian Fulton but that may prove to be an oversight. Williams has tremendous physical gifts. He stands at 6’2″ 175 pounds and has run a sub 4.4 40.
Those are first round NFL numbers and with the kind of ball skills that make the nickname “Greedy” a perfect fit this is a player you want to keep an eye out for.
Denham Springs Defensive End Caleb Roddy rounds out the recruits. At 6’4″ 275 pounds there is little danger of him moving out to linebacker, he will fit right in as an understudy to Lewis Neal and Arden Key.
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All in all the class is a great one, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive tackles and cornerbacks are a superb bunch, and Les Miles was right, they are the best in the country at their positions.
This bodes very well for the future. LSU fans know how important defensive line play is to a national championship contender, having seen both sides of that equation.
LSU fans also know that the best way to slow down a spread offense is with quality cornerbacks who can play man defense against fast wide receivers. With top 10 talent lining up at both of those positions the defense will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.