RECRUITING PREVIEW: Our sneak peek
Marcus Tillman
Marcus Tillman
Editor
Posted May 6, 2005
Matt_Deville


Check back Monday for Tiger Rag's Louisiana Top 30 and beyond.

With all he accomplished in five years in Baton Rouge, Nick Saban left some mighty big shoes to fill.

 

There was little doubt Saban left the ranks of the Southeastern Conference as one of the most successful and talented coaches ever to lead a team in the league. His resume speaks for itself – 48 wins, two SEC titles and a national championship.

 

While what Saban was able to accomplish on the gridiron is obvious, the reason why he was so successful may be his biggest legacy in Baton Rouge. As Saban will be remembered for his coaching prowess during his half-decade stay in Tiger Town, his success on the recruiting trail ranks right up there with his coaching abilities.

 

In five seasons, Saban reeled in the nation’s top class in 2003, twice had the No. 2 ranked collection of recruits (2001, 2004) and rapidly grew his reputation as the most successful recruiter this conference (maybe the country) had ever seen.

 

These days, Saban has the luxury of not having to bother recruiting players. As the coach of the Miami Dolphins, things run a bit different in the professional ranks. Now, all focus turns to first year LSU coach Les Miles.

 

Fans gave Miles a break when his (unofficially) first recruiting class didn’t draw a top 10 ranking. Given the fact Miles had exactly one month to try and sew up the final few commitments on the 2005 class of prospects, even the diehard recruiting junkies said it was a tall task for Miles and a skeleton staff.

 

However, Miles gave Tiger fans hope when he pulled off a last minute coup securing the services of four-star prospects R.J. Jackson, Brandon LaFell and Rickey Jean-Francois. Plus, toss in the nation’s top quarterback prospect – East St. John’s Ryan Perrilloux – and one could say Miles finished in strong Saban-like fashion.

 

But it is a new recruiting season and this time Miles will be under the microscope of sorts. With a full compliment of assistant coaches and a year to work his recruiting magic, eager LSU fans are going to wait and see if Miles can live up to the high level of expectations created during the Saban era.

 

Some of Miles top targets include Northport (Ala.) standout Chris Smelley. Rayville (La.) running back Richard Murphy is regarded as the top running back in the state, a prospect which expect to pull the trigger on LSU.

 

With Perrilloux already on campus, some think East St. John wide receiver Ricky Dixon is a lock to be a Tiger. But arguably the nation’s top wide receiver prospect will need the necessary coaxing to choose LSU.

 

Offensive lineman Trent Williams of Longview Texas leads a lengthy list of recruits which Miles will target this fall. With LSU losing three starting offensive lineman after this season (Rudy Niswanger, Andrew Whitworth, Nate Livings), the O-line will be one of the main points of emphasis for Miles’ recruiting efforts.

 

Meadville, Miss. defensive end Marcus Tillman headlines the group of ends Miles will pursue in this recruiting season. And Chaz Washington of Destrehan is probably the biggest target for the Tiger coach staff at the down tackle spot. When you speak of Washington, one has to think is Miles can attract the attention of the big man, Destrehan teammate Jai Eugene, one of the nation’s top cornerback prospects, is likely to follow.

 

In the upcoming edition of Tiger Rag, we break down each position giving you inside and analysis on all the prospects on the LSU radar screen. Plus, Sonny Shipp breaks down the Louisiana Top 30 and beyond.

 

While there is still nine months until signing day next February, Miles has already secured commitments from four prospects, the most recent coming last Tuesday from Ruston (La.) High School defensive end Lazarius Livingston.

 

Livingston (6-3, 252) saw one of his longtime dreams come true on Sunday when he received an official scholarship offer from the LSU Tigers. It took Livingston all of two seconds to give LSU head coach Les Miles a definitive “yes” when asked if he wanted to be a Tiger.

 

“I called coach Miles up like he wanted me to and after a few minutes he said he wanted to give me an offer,” Livingston told Tiger Rag. “I knew that was where I wanted to go all along so I gave him an answer right then.”

 

The offer caught Livingston by surprise because he was not expecting any offers until coaches got a chance to see him in action during his senior campaign. Everyone knew that he had the talent to play major college football but there was a question mark concerning his knee. Livingston blew out his knee in the third game of the 2004 campaign but after many months of intensive rehab he has recovered nicely and is almost back to 100 percent.

 

“The knee feels good right now,” he said. “I’m moving around pretty good and it’s not anything to worry about.”

 

Though he had limited action last season Livingston showed he was an aggressive player with a lot of quickness. Before the injury he had a great first step and was very explosive coming off the edge. It looks like he regained that explosiveness because all it took was one time for the LSU coaches to see him in pads to realize he was too good to let slip away.

 

“They said they like the way I get after it and think I can give them a good rush coming off the edge,” Livingston said. “They said they have a few defensive ends that they really like and after seeing me at practice that I was one they had to have.”

 

Livingston said he is close to qualifying and only needs to pick up his ACT score by a couple of points to get that out of the way.

 

Klein (Tx.) - Hollins High offensive lineman Matt Allen (6-3, 280) had scholarship offers from Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Auburn and Houston, but was hoping he would pick up an offer from the Tigers. When Miles summoned him in to his office in early April, everything came to fruition.

 

“He brought me in and said we really like you,” Allen said. “He told me I play hard and I’m real aggressive and he would love to have me on his team. After I heard that I accepted the offer.”

 

Allen said he grew up watching the Tigers on TV and was always blown away by the atmosphere. That was a big reason he developed a passion for LSU football.

 

“The crowds they bring in are unbelievable,” he said. “They bring in over a 100,000 and I’ve always dreamed of playing in an atmosphere like that. It’s definitely been a goal of mine since high school and it definitely came true on Saturday.”

 

Lafayette-Acadiana linebacker Jacob Cutrera may live in the land of Ragin’ Cajuns, but the state’s top linebacker said it was all Tigers.

 

Cutrera (6-4, 225, 4.5) had hoped Les Miles would offer him a scholarship and when the two met briefly in the Lawton Room after LSU‘s Spring Scrimmage, Miles let him know how bad he wanted him.

 

“He walked in and said I was going to be on his team and that they wanted me,” Cutrera said. “He said it didn’t matter if he offered now or later because I was going to be an LSU Tiger so he said lets get it over with.”

 

Ole Miss, Clemson and New Mexico State were Cutrera’s other offers but he knew where he was headed all along.

 

“On the way over to the scrimmage we decided that if they (LSU) offered I would commit,” said Cutrera. “I grew up an LSU fan and wanted to get it out of the way so I could focus on my senior season. I knew LSU was where I wanted to go so why wait?”

 

Now, the only waiting Cutrera has left is for that first Saturday night in Death Valley when he takes the field in front of more than 92,000 screaming Tiger fans.

 

“I don’t know what to expect from that,” he said. “I was on the sideline for the Ole Miss game last year and you could feel the electricity so much more than in the stands. I can’t wait to walk out on that field as an LSU Tiger.”

 

LSU’s fourth commitment is Dodge City (Kan.) CC offensive lineman Anthony Boudreaux.

 

The 6-8, 360-pounder signed with the Tigers in 2004 out of Chalmette (La.) but he was forced to go the juco route because he failed to qualify academically.

 

Boudreaux said he never lost sight of his goal of playing for the Tigers and he was thrilled about being Miles’ first pledge for 2006.

 

“LSU was always the place I wanted to go and I’m excited to be a Tiger,” Boudreaux said. “It has always been a dream of mine and I’m glad the coaches never forgot about me.”

 

Boudreaux said he is on pace to graduate in December and he will have three years to play two.

 

Miles may have a great deal to live up to in the wake of the Saban era, but he has hit the ground running and seems off to a good start.



Related Stories
Prospects back from LSU Junior Day
 -by TigerSportsDigest.com  Feb 20, 2005
Hollins and Dixon to attend LSU Junior Day
 -by TigerSportsDigest.com  Feb 16, 2005
DEVILLE: Fallout from Perrilloux saga
 -by TigerSportsDigest.com  Feb 5, 2005

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