This is my third update in a row where I'm discussing a new commitment for LSU Football...and that's a good thing. This time, LSU goes out of state, all the way to North Carolina to land Lewis Neal, a 6'1" 235 pound defensive end. Neal is rated as a three star player by most of the recruiting services (ESPN has him at 4 stars), but his offer list reads like many four star prospects. He chose LSU over offers from Ohio State, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and many others. Neal was once a commitment to Ohio State. Just four days after committing there, LSU offered him and he immediately decommitted from the Buckeyes, citing the need to explore all of his options. It seemed that Neal always held LSU in high regard and his receipt of that offer really jump started the Tigers' momentum with him. Neal visited LSU with his family a couple of weeks ago, and his recruitment came to an end on Wednesday night when he announced for LSU.
At just 6'1", Neal does not possess the prototypical height for a defensive end. But he has an awful quick first step and shows off some impressive strength. He also has long arms which give him a reach that is a bit better than his 6'1" height would indicate. He plays the run surprisingly well for someone whose calling card is rushing the passer. Without the big frame, many wonder just how much weight he'll be able to gain while still maintaining his quickness. It's a valid concern. However, it's easy to forget that both of LSU's highly acclaimed defensive ends, Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, are listed at under 250 pounds. Neal is built more like a linebacker than a defensive end, but he flashes some serious skills with his hand in the dirt. In fact, some schools were recruiting Neal as an outside linebacker. So if things don't work out on the line, it's not out of the question that Neal could give linebacker a shot.
I've seen Neal compared to a number of different players. Dwight Freeney and Elvis Dumerivlle get mentioned because they're both short, pass rushing defensive ends who have had lots of success. Freeney is listed at 6'1" while Dumerville is actually 5'11". I've seen him compared to Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones. But to me, he's similar to current Tiger Jermauria Rasco.
Neal makes LSU's third commitment in this class at the defensive end position. Some have expressed some concern about filling up at the position, even though big names such as Tim Williams and Torrodney Prevot are still out there. From what I can tell, LSU is going to keep recruiting the heck out of those guys and would still take both of them. As one of Louisiana's top prospects, Williams remains a huge priority in this class. Would that be a lot of defensive ends in one class? Yea. But LSU took just one last year, and they love to rotate linemen in and out games. All of these guys would have the opportunity to see the field and make plays.
Neal makes LSU's 19th commitment. How do I think the Tigers finish out? Here is a guess (which is absolutely subject to change):
20. DT Greg Gilmore
21. DE Tim Williams
22. CB Rashard Robinson
23. ATH Rickey Jefferson
24. LB Kendell Beckwith
25. RB Adam Taylor
Here are Neal's highlights:
Here is another video of Neal performing in some 1-on-1s at a recent camp in Charlotte, NC. Neal goes in the first two clips. He is going against Bentley Spain, who is believed to be one of the top offensive line prospects in the nation for the Class of 2014. You'll see that he beats him rather easily each time. Neal takes another rep at the 3:50 mark.
If LSU lands Robinson at camp, I think the door shuts for Likely and Burns and pretty much any DB not named Willis or Goodman. Seals-Jones would be great but until he visits, I'm not confident at all. I think LSU is in great shape for Prevot but just have a hunch he stays in TX at the end of the day.