As the 2016 signing class reports to campus later this week, SEC Country is taking a look back at those before it.
The 2014 class is certainly one LSU fans will remember. It was touted as the No. 2 class in the nation that February, and to date, it has lived up and — perhaps — exceeded expectations.
The 25-man class featured a quartet of five-star prospects, including running back Leonard Fournette, wide receiver Malachi Dupre, outside linebacker Clifton Garrett and safety Jamal Adams. Three of those are still contributing to the Tigers in major ways.
Combine that with the fact that there were a dozen four-stars embedded in the group, bringing the total number of blue-chip prospects to 16.
Additionally, this class demonstrated the LSU coaches’ ability not only to garner commits from the state of Louisiana, but also from all over the nation. The class featured prospects from eight different states.
As it stands today, LSU’s 2014 class rivals any other as potentially the best collection of talent. It is still too early to tell if the 2015 or 2016 classes can push the 2014 class for that honor, but both have a daunting task ahead of them.
The key cogs:
In mentioning some of the five-stars, it’s difficult to ignore that Fournette, Dupre and Adams are three of LSU’s most important players on the current roster. Obviously, Fournette is a Heisman Trophy hopeful coming off a sophomore season in which he led the country in rushing. Dupre has thrived despite being in a run-heavy offense, and may emerge as one of the nation’s best wideouts this coming season with an added emphasis on the short-passing game. Adams is among the best safeties in the country as both a ball-hawking defender and a run-stopper.
We’d be remiss not to bring up quarterback Brandon Harris, a former four-star prospect who may be poised for a breakout season. Harris has been an instant-impact player since arriving at LSU and looked to turn a corner early last season. The signal-caller hit a metaphorical wall later in 2015, but after his third spring with the team and new wrinkles in the offense, he could be on the verge of a memorable campaign.
William Clapp and Davon Godchaux have both been cemented as integral parts of the operation, too. The Louisiana natives are staples on the offensive and defensive fronts, respectively. Clapp took over a starting guard job last year and helped pave the way for Fournette on the ground. Godchaux has been dominant at defensive tackle and is an instrumental part of Ed Orgeron’s unit.
A swing and a miss:
There were certainly a lot of hits within the 2014 class, but others have not lived up to the hype. Case in point: Garrett was a five-star linebacker who appeared in three games for LSU, but left the June prior to his sophomore season. His departure from the program left the Tigers defense short at the linebacker position, and with the switch to a 3-4 scheme, continues to nag the team.
Safety Ed Paris has yet to live up to his billing. The highly regarded four-star prospect out of Texas is a reserve defensive back for LSU entering 2016, spending some time at both safety and cornerback. Paris saw extended action this past spring due to injuries in the Tigers’ secondary, but with all of its pieces healthy and a stud collection of defensive back prospects on the way, he will continue to serve as a backup.
Trey Quinn holds the national record for most career receiving yards during his time at Barbe High School (Lake Charles, La.). However, that did not translate to the SEC. The wide receiver hauled in 22 passes in two years with the Tigers before transferring to SMU earlier this offseason. Quinn started seven of his first 13 games with the team, but fell out of the fray his sophomore season.
Some of the blue-chippers in the 2014 signing class have yet to see the field. That could change this upcoming season.
Garrett Brumfield was the nation’s No. 6 offensive guard, and the No. 98 overall prospect coming out of University Lab High School (Baton Rouge, La.). He could be competing for a starting spot along the LSU offensive line during fall camp. The 6-foot-3, 294-pounder was redshirted last season, but saw action at guard this spring with Clapp sidelined. It could be between him and senior Josh Boutte for the job.
LSU may be a ways away from solidifying who will be starting opposite of Adams at safety this fall. John Battle is an intriguing name to consider. The former three-star safety out of Florida appeared in only one game as a true freshman, then was sidelined in 2015 with a sports hernia and torn labrum in his hip. Battle was out for the spring, leaving Rickey Jefferson to take starting reps in the secondary. Battle could wind up being a contributor, though.
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.