Commentary

LSU's 2012 class filled with talent

Alexander, Liggins hope to step in early for the Tigers and fill some holes

Updated: February 1, 2012, 9:36 PM ET
By David Helman | GeauxTigerNation

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU might not have completely gotten what it wanted on national signing day, but the Tigers just might find they got what they needed.

[+] EnlargeDwayne Thomas
AP Photo/Jonathan BachmanCB Dwayne Thomas from New Orleans signed with LSU.
LSU polished off its 2012 recruiting class on Wednesday afternoon, hauling in 22 commitments to bolster an already loaded program. But while the Tigers landed nine four-star recruits and five members of the ESPNU 150, they landed well below the star-studded classes of rivals such as Alabama and Florida.

Color Les Miles unconcerned. The LSU coach took to the podium Wednesday afternoon to welcome his eighth recruiting class to Baton Rouge, dismissing the notion that the Tigers suffered a disappointing signing day.

"This is a class that answers our needs, as we have done in the past," Miles said of his No. 14-ranked class. "I can remember in 2008 that we did not have a top-10 ranked class, and this year would have been that senior group. And we won the conference, we won 13 games, we played in the final game. Frankly, that would not have fit the national rank of that class."

Those needs revolved mainly around replenishing talent from the Tigers' defense. LSU lost three of its top four contributors from its 2011 linebacking corps: Ryan Baker, Karnell Hatcher and Stefoin Francois.

The Tigers replaced those departures with perhaps the best group of linebackers of Miles' tenure. Highlighted by the surprise signing of No. 29 overall prospect Kwon Alexander (Oxford, Ala./Oxford), LSU pulled in three different linebackers ranked in the ESPNU 150.

Alexander was joined by fellow outside linebackers Ronnie Feist (Edgard, La./West St. John) and Lorenzo Phillips (Patterson, La./Patterson), considered the No. 125 and No. 135 overall prospects.

"These are guys that will play special teams and have great speed on the field, and frankly will be the youth as we go to replace that linebacking corps," Miles said. "Year in and year out in this state, this is the best linebacking class that I have seen."

Miles' signing day had to be dampened by some sour news that hasn't been customary during his tenure. The Tigers on Wednesday lost both of Louisiana's top recruits to out-of-state competitors, something that has happened only a handful of times on Miles' watch.

It has been common knowledge for the past month that the nation's No. 1 safety, Landon Collins, was taking his services to Alabama, but four-star defensive end Torshiro Davis followed Collins' lead Wednesday, dropping LSU for Texas.

"When somebody else goes in another direction, there's some things we can't control," Miles said.

Whether he could control it or not, the loss of such talented players was not lost on Miles.

"It's still very much our philosophy to give every in-state, great player an opportunity to play here in Louisiana," he said. "I can tell you that we did that. We worked hard in this state."

[+] EnlargeDerek Edinburgh
AP Photo/Jonathan BachmanOT Derek Edinburgh from New Orleans signed with LSU.
The Tigers might not have gotten what they wanted from Louisiana, but they got what they needed in Texas. As Alexander bolstered the linebacker corps, LSU pulled another surprise from former Texas A&M commit Corey Thompson (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins), a three-star safety who Miles hopes will offset the loss of Collins.

"Frankly, we had to have him," Miles said. "He made a last-minute decision to come with the Tigers, and it's really exactly what we needed."

Need spurred the Tigers once again in pursuit of a quarterback. LSU lost out on highly-touted recruit Gunner Kiel earlier this month, but when the smoke cleared Wednesday, Miles had a new one.

Jeremy Liggins (Oxford, Miss./Lafayette) spurned Ole Miss on Monday night to commit to LSU. He removed the drama from his decision when he faxed his letter of intent at 7:57 a.m.

"Jeremy Liggins was a priority for us. He was that guy that can throw the ball and move his feet, and gives us a very talented prospect at quarterback," Miles said.

With those questions addressed, the LSU staff has already turned toward 2013. While some might be hoping for a bigger splash next year, Miles said he just hopes to again meet his needs, whatever they might be.

"You never get all of the guys that you attempt to recruit. I think there are guys that would have made great fits here," he said. "Did we meet all the needs? Yeah, I think we met all the needs. Those needs will change as we go forward."

David Helman covers LSU sports for GeauxTigerNation. He can be reached at helmanespn@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @HelmanESPN.

David Helman | email

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