- David Helman, Reporter, RecruitingNation
Vitals: ATH John Diarse (Monroe, La./Neville) 6-foot-0, 210 pounds
Committed: March 17
Grade: 83. Four-star prospect
Picked LSU over: Alabama, which was his second choice. Also held offers from Arkansas, Mississippi State and TCU.
State of the position: Conventional wisdom has said since his commitment that Diarse is heading for the wide receiver position. Neville employed him at wide receiver on occasion with tons of success, but he was simply too valuable as a quarterback to play out wide full time. It will be interesting to see if Diarse makes that switch when he gets to spring practice in March, though. The Tigers are bringing in juco wide receiver Quantavius Leslie, and another receiver commit could be on the way before signing day. If the receiver spot is too crowded, Diarse is also an exceptional talent at safety.
Pros: There's no denying Diarse's raw athleticism. His balance and physicality are evident, and he has a knack of always finding the big play. "He has above-average balance and despite playing a little high, has enough wiggle to avoid big hits," according to the ESPN Scouting Report. "He is a north/south runner with good power who can wear defenses down over the course of a game."
Cons: As impressive as Diarse is in person, his biggest flaw is fairly self-evident. He does not have the jaw-dropping speed of most SEC wide receivers, instead winning battles with his positioning and physicality. From the scouting report: "Diarse does not show a noticeable second gear in our opinion. His top-end speed is good, but not explosive and he might not consistently win foot races at the next level."
Similar to/potential role: It remains to be seen if they'll even play the same position, but Diarse reminds me of Eric Reid. The Tigers' free safety shares the same stocky, physical build and used his athleticism to earn playing time as a true freshman. Just like Reid, Diarse is a big kid and looks ready for the rigors of the SEC already -- even as a high school player.
Expected impact: It's hard to say for sure until Diarse finds a defined position. The receiving corps loses Russell Shepard in 2013, but top targets Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry will return as juniors. The Tigers will also be adding at least one, if not two or three other freshmen to the wide receiving group. With competition like that, it would take anyone time to crack the starting lineup. Reid is a likely early draft entry when this season ends, and LSU doesn't have a definite starter behind him. Safety certainly seems like the more likely option for early playing time, but it all depends on how Diarse develops once he gets to campus.