HOUSTON — At 6-foot-4 and 211 pounds, it’s difficult to ignore K’Lavon Chaisson’s physical stature.
Long, ripped and the embodiment of the term “quick-twitch,” the 4-star Texas product naturally became a top target for LSU as soon as the coaches caught a glimpse of him at camp one year ago.
That was before Chaisson ever played a down of football.
The nation’s No. 5-rated weak-side defensive end was a relative unknown as he attended LSU’s high school camp last June with former teammate and current Tigers safety Eric Monroe. It was where he collected his first college scholarship offer — from LSU.
Since then, the Houston native’s recruitment has ballooned with a constantly growing list of 23 offers and the attention of some of college football’s top powerhouses.
As Chaisson prepares for just his second varsity football season at North Shore High School (Houston) this fall, he still considers himself a raw talent and a work in progress. He’s comfortable with that, though, because even as one of the nation’s elite prospects he knows he still has a higher ceiling to reach.
“This was my first year of playing varsity football,” Chaisson told SEC Country at LSU’s satellite camp at his high school on Tuesday. “I played little league, some middle school, but there was no coaching there; it was just get the ball to your best player and do you.
“It’s definitely been a learning process. I mean, all of last year I was playing off of straight athleticism. I picked up a few things, but I have so much to learn — using my hands, run-blocking, the schemes, looking at formations. I’ve got a lot to learn because I’ve been playing off my athleticism, but I know at the next level that’s not going to work against guys as athletic as I am.”
It was Chaisson’s natural athleticism that drew the attention of the LSU coaches last June and has since enticed new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.
In April, the Houston native told SEC Country that he was intrigued by his fit in the Tigers’ new 3-4 scheme and that Aranda viewed him as the ideal fit rushing the passer off the edge.
Chaisson’s high school team usually lines him up as a hand-in-the-dirt defensive lineman, but has experimented with using him to stand up to get after the passer. No matter what position he’s played in on Friday nights, he has created quite the mismatch.
“In one of our formations, I stand up and play linebacker,” Chaisson explained. “I feel like I’m more of a threat standing up then standing down in the line. Most linemen are slow, so I can get out and around them real quick … It (my natural athleticism) came in handy. I’ll tell you that. Without this, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now.”
After one season of competing at the varsity level, the 4-star prospect garnered Defensive MVP honors after helping to lead North Shore to its second state championship. Chaisson forced and recovered a fumble on the game’s final play, recorded a sack and blocked a fourth-quarter field-goal attempt in the contest.
Chaisson was also named to the Texas AP Class 6A All-State team after a season in which he registered 50 tackles, including 13 for loss, to go along with state-leading 15.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Earlier this spring, he was invited to Nike’s “The Opening” Finals, a star-studded camp featuring more than 150 of the players in the country, in Beaverton, Ore., where he’ll compete against other outstanding talents that have been playing football way longer than he has.
The scary part is that after one year of football, there’s a lot talent that remains untapped.
“I like to say that the sky is the limit,” Chaisson smiled. “I don’t look at myself as a top prospect in the nation. In the locker room, I’m just a normal dude. There are guys that bench more than me, squate more than and are more talented that me. There’s a lot of things I can do, but I wouldn’t think that I’m a top guy out of this program. There’s a lot of guys that are overlooked, and I believe there’s a lot of things I need to work on.”
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tigers Stadium.