Washington Marion middle linebacker Melvin Jones committed to LSU on Friday, giving LSU 17 commitments for the Class of 2013. Jones has seen a steady rise in his stock since the end of his junior season. He picked up offers from Texas A&M and Alabama before finally receiving one from LSU in late May. 247 Sports ranks Jones as the nation's #4 middle linebacker and the #148 player overall. Scout.com rates Jones as the #8 middle linebacker in the nation and the #174 player overall. While playing in Alabama's linebacker friendly system initially appealed to Jones, his final decision came between LSU and Texas A&M. Jones also held offers from Nebraska, Ole Miss, TCU, and Tennessee among others.
Even though LSU signed six linebackers in the Class of 2012, only one of those players, Trey Granier, projects in the middle. Jones has a tremendous opportunity to win the middle linebacker job after junior Kevin Minter moves on.
Jones has great size, checking in at 6'3" 245. Already at that size, many project that Jones could outgrow linebacker and end up on the defensive line. It will be interesting to see just how much more he grows over the next few years. But even at that size, Jones moves tremendously well. He doubles as a quarterback and looks fantastic with the ball in his hands, showing off pretty good cutting ability and change of direction skills. While he won't play offense at LSU, it's nice to see that kind of talent. Jones was named District MVP for both offense and defense during his junior season. He reminds me of former South Carolina defensive lineman Melvin Ingram, who was listed at 6'2" 225 out of high school. Jones may be a bit rough around the edges as a linebacker, but I have little doubt that Coach Chavis will maximize his talent and have him ready to go. I posted some film of Jones at the bottom.
I've got Jones ranked as the #12 player in the state of Louisiana but when I revise the SNS Top 21 at the end of the summer, I've got him penciled in as a Top-10 player in the state.
With 17 commitments now on board, LSU has approximately eight spots left. How might things finish up? LSU still has offers out to four in-state prospects:
TE Desean Smith
DE Tim Williams
LB Kendell Beckwith
CB Rickey Jefferson
LSU is in good shape with each of those players, but none of them should be considered locks. But if all goes well, that would bring LSU's total to 21, leaving room for about four more guys. It can't be overstated how important the rest of the in-state group is to LSU's class this year. All four guys are Top-6 players in the current SNS Top 21.
North Carolina defensive end Lewis Neal has LSU high on his list after a recent visit to Baton Rouge. He was scheduled to visit Tennessee this weekend and possibly make a decision sometime this week. I'd have to think LSU is the favorite at this point, though I'm curious to hear this thoughts about Tennessee after his visit to Rocky Top.
LSU still looks to be in pretty good shape with Texas defensive end Torrodney Prevot. Texas recently lost a defensive end when Daeshon Hall decommitted and became a part of Washington's class just days later. The Horns were already recruiting Prevot pretty hard, but they're sure to turn up the heat even more now.
Would LSU take both Neal and Prevot, in addition to Tim Williams? Even though that would give LSU five defensive ends in one class, I think they would take them all if they could pull it off. If you think back to the Class of 2012, LSU took six linebackers. That was, in part, to make up for the year prior when they took just one. Well last year, LSU took just one defensive end (Danielle Hunter). So if they manage to get all five guys this year, that gives them six in a two-year span which is not that big a deal. Many in the Class of 2013 will play as true freshmen, which will help split up the group. In addition, LSU loves to rotate their defensive linemen so all of the guys would have an opportunity to play quite a bit.
Where does all of that leave Tyquan Lewis, another North Carolina defensive end who holds an offer from LSU? Depending on what transpires with Neal and Prevot, who are both expected to announce this summer, Lewis may be on the outside looking in.
While we're talking defensive ends, the rumor mill is cranked up that the nation's top player, Robert Nkemdiche, may not be solidly committed to Clemson. With LSU supposedly his #2 team at the time of this commitment, the Tigers would obviously jump squarely into the mix for his services if he began to look around.
North Carolina defensive tackle Greg Gilmore maintains that LSU is his leader. Though I'm not quite as confident as I once was, I'd still be really surprised if he ended up anywhere but LSU.
Hawaii defensive tackle Scott Pagano is still on the radar as well, though he seems to favor Florida slightly ahead of LSU right now. After what many described as a sub-par performance at the recent Rivals 5-star challenge, it does not seem that schools are backing off his recruitment.
Would LSU take both Gilmore and Pagano? Possibly; however, I'm starting to think LSU wants just one more tackle to go along with Tevin Lawson in this class. Right now, it looks like that will be Gilmore. That all changes if California defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes wants to come aboard. Vanderdoes is an elite prospect and LSU would find a spot for him. He has shown legitimate interest thus far and has some family ties to Louisiana. But I still consider him a long shot. Most believe that Oregon will ultimately land him.
Alabama defensive tackle Rod Crayton is another to keep an eye on. He should be at LSU's camp and with a strong performance, he could enter the picture too.
Florida cornerback Rashard Robinson will be at LSU's camp in a couple of weeks. If he performs as expected, most believe that LSU will offer and that he'll commit. Robinson recently performed very well at Florida State's camp, earning an offer. He also recently landed an offer from Miami.
Arizona defensive back Priest Willis is a big-time talent with legitimate interest in LSU. He may be at camp in a couple of weeks and if so, look for LSU to make a strong impression. I'm not sure I believe LSU can actually pry him away from USC, but LSU would take him regardless of whoever else is on board.
It looks like LSU is ready to stand put with Jeremy Cutrer as the only safety in this class (unless they pull Willis who could end up at safety). LSU is in great shape with a number of 2014 safety prospects, and it seems that they have already shifted their focus to next year's group at the safety position.
Katy, TX running back Adam Taylor should be at camp in a couple of weeks. If the staff likes what they see, he could very well become a part of this class. LSU has tremendous depth at running back this season, but that could thin out in a hurry as some of the players become draft eligible following the 2012 season. Jeremy Hill was the lone LSU signee at running back last year, and in terms of draft eligibility, Hill is a part of the Class of 2011. I have some reservations about LSU signing just one guy over a two-year span, especially when you could potentially only get two years on the field from that guy. At the same time, opening the depth chart could help entice some elite backs in the Class of 2014 such as Leonard Fournette and Devon Thomas.
Unless LSU can lure a big-time talent such as Texas prospect Ricky Seals-Jones or North Carolina's Marquez North, I think LSU is done at wide receiver. Seals-Jones is supposed to visit LSU in the near future which should help clear things up with his bizarre recruitment.
Here is some film on Jones: