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Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Palelei fits the Cam Cameron offense

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- When you think of a Cam Cameron offense, one of the first things that comes to mind is his use of fast, versatile running backs in space who can make a tackler miss.

Think LaDainian Tomlinson during Cameron's days as offensive coordinator with the San Diego Chargers. Or perhaps Ray Rice in Baltimore.

"That's pretty much what they talked to me about," said Sione Palelei (Gonzales, La./East Ascension), the lightning-quick 3-star running back who committed on Wednesday, becoming the first running back to commit to the Tigers since Cameron became the offensive coordinator after last season. "They see me as a guy catching balls out of the backfield and using my speed to get to the edge."

Evidence that LSU will go in this direction with its offense has accumulated since Cameron became the offensive coordinator. In spring ball, there appeared to be an emphasis in making running backs comfortable running pass routes. Prospects who have been able to sit in on offensive meetings have talked about Cameron's emphasis on creating mismatches and exploiting them.

That's right up Palelei's alley. At 5-foot-10, 202 pounds, he's not so slight that he can't take the pounding one receives playing in the SEC. But he's also runs a 4.45 40-yard dash and has a knack for making people miss in space. The thought of Cameron scheming to get Palelei in a foot race with a linebacker has the potential to create worry for defensive coordinators.

One person who should not be worried by Palelei's commitment is LSU's top target.

Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine), the top running back and top player in the ESPN 300, remains a top priority for the Tigers, who need not only Fournette's impact, but also numbers at the position.

LSU has but four scholarship running backs on the 2013 roster. One is senior Alfred Blue and the other three -- Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee -- will all be draft eligible after this season and the recent pattern shows that draft-eligible Tigers do tend to leave school early.

That means LSU will likely be in the market to sign at least two running backs in this class.

LSU also gave another Louisiana back, Darrel Williams (Marrero, La./John Ehret) a good look on Tuesday, but he left without an offer.

Williams fits the mold of the kind of backs LSU has had in the past. Big and physical, he's the kind of player who fits the Les Miles, downhill-runner mold.

Does the commitment from Palelei mark a change in philosophy for LSU's offense? It might be the best evidence yet that LSU is, indeed, tweaking its offensive approach with Cameron.