BATON ROUGE, La. – Perhaps LSU’s 2015 recruiting class is incomplete.
The Tigers signed 25 players in February for a class that ESPN ranked 10th nationally, but recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson said that total still could grow to 26.
At an LSU Tiger Tour stop last week in Biloxi, Mississippi, Wilson said LSU has one scholarship available if a promising prospect would be able to join the roster this summer.
“If the opportunity presents itself, certainly we’ll use it,” Wilson said.
That wouldn’t be particularly unusual for LSU. Last year, the Tigers added two junior college transfers – tight end Colin Jeter and offensive tackle Jevonte Domond – in June. Jeter played in 11 games last season and Domond appeared in one.
Youth at tailback: Wilson, also LSU’s running backs coach, is accustomed to having upperclassmen in his backfield. That won’t be the case this season.
Following the departures of senior tailbacks Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard and senior fullback Connor Neighbors, Wilson’s most experienced players are sophomore tailbacks Leonard Fournette and Darrel Williams.
“You look at it and this is the youngest I’ve ever been – and a lot of times we were top heavy. We had Stevan [Ridley] and Richard Murphy and all those guys and then Spencer Ware and Michael Ford,” Wilson said. “It was like everybody was juniors and seniors, so we could never really get to the bottom because … we’d take three or four in one class.”
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said after spring practice that Fournette was one of LSU’s most-improved players, which was quite a statement since Fournette broke the Tigers’ freshman rushing record with 1,034 yards in 2014. But Wilson agreed with Cameron’s assessment.
“You look at where he’s come from, we knew who he was and what he was and we knew it would take time,” Wilson said. “He had great leadership with Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee a year ago, and we knew it was only a matter of time before he understood the game inside out. At the back end of the season, he got it and he really just started to come on. He had an outstanding spring and we’re expecting big things from him this year.”
Fournette said this spring that he and Williams are ready to accept leadership roles, and they’ll have to be. They were rookies just a summer ago, but now they’ll be responsible for helping tailback signees Nick Brossette and Derrius Guice learn the ropes.
“They learn from one another and they go out with a next-man-up mentality,” Wilson said. “But universally at all positions, that’s kind of what we try to do.”
Moore leading fullback race: Versatile early enrollee David Ducre is in the mix at both tailback and fullback. But those projecting Ducre as LSU’s Day 1 starting fullback are apparently mistaken.
Asked about John David Moore, who backed up Neighbors last season and who opened the spring as his successor, Wilson seemed confident that he had found his new blocking back.
“He’s a stud. He’s our starting fullback,” Wilson said.
A converted tight end, Moore was one of three players (along with Fournette and offensive lineman Ethan Pocic) to win one of the LSU offense's leadership awards following spring practice. Wilson indicated that he will be the clear-cut leader ahead of fullback signees Ducre and Bry'Kiethon Mouton when the Tigers open preseason practice.
“That’s why I say David will come in and give us quality depth at both fullback and tailback, because J.D. has earned that [starting job],” Wilson said.
Quarterback competition: Recruiting and coaching LSU’s running backs are Wilson’s specialties, but he also had a ringside seat for the Tigers’ quarterback competition this spring.
Cameron and head coach Les Miles did not name a starter – or even a leader in the race – after LSU’s spring game, and Wilson speculated that was because the competition between Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris had been so close during those 15 practices.
“They’ve done well. They’ve both developed. They matured their leadership skills more than anything – their ability to be able to recognize defenses and pinpoint the ball with accuracy,” Wilson said. “Brandon came on really strong and everybody thought, ‘Oh, it’s his job,’ and Anthony fought back. It’s one of the reasons that we recruited him, because he showed that type of perseverance and ability to compete. So we like where we’re at at the quarterback position, and we anticipate it could go all the way down to the wire.”