Chat with Gary Laney
Welcome to GeauxTigerNation! On Tuesday, reporter Gary Laney stops by to chat about the state of LSU football.
Laney joined ESPN.com in 2012 after spending a year and a half as online sports editor of the Baton Rouge Advocate. Before that, he covered LSU sports for the Advocate. He has also been the sports editor at the Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise and covered McNeese State athletics for the Lake Charles (La.) American Press. Laney currently lives in Baton Rouge, La.
Send your questions now and join Laney Tuesday at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET!
Gary Laney (2:00 PM)
Lots going on. Let's get this thing started.
Robert Terry Nugent (North Myrtle Beach, SC)
Explain how Stanford jumped over LSU in the BCS polls after beating the same team twice in a season which I thought the BCS didnt reward. Also Stanford lost to Washington who LSU pounded.
Gary Laney (2:05 PM)
What have you done for me lately, that's how. Stanford finished with two wins over UCLA, a win over Oregon and a win over Oregon State, all ranked opponents. LSU finished with close wins over unranked teams.And Stanford won its league. Not saying Stanford should be ahead of LSU, just saying that 's probably why.
Calder @ Lucas (Covington, LA)
What is the feeling regarding Priest Willis' visit? Did the Ourso facility have the "wow factor" to seal the deal? Good morning for a trip to Pig Stand on 11th, eh?
Gary Laney (2:07 PM)
Calder, you keep bringing back Beaumont memories. I think LSU moved from "long shot" to "player" in the Willis thing. I'm a little antsy right now because I've tried to get Priest on the phone the last two days, but so far, it hasn't worked out, but his tweets and world of mouth is telling me the visit went for well for him from an LSU perspective.
Gary Laney (2:08 PM)
Just got a call from Logan Stokes, a soon-to-be LSU signee at TE. I'll call him back after we chat and I'll have an update on him for tomorrow, which is juco signing day. Look for that, plus an update later today on Hinds CC, which is the school that has LSU commit Quantavius Leslie.
Kevin (Houston, TX)
What are you're thoughts on LSUs shot at Priest Willis, Tahaan Goodman, Kendell Beckwith, and Nkemdiche. I'm hoping Greg Gilmore and Maquedius Bain talk up Nkemdiche at the UA game on what a wrecking crew they'd be together.
Gary Laney (2:11 PM)
When you look at all the guys you mentioned, LSU is going to be a factor. DB and DL are the two areas where LSU has the best recent track record for producing NFL players and all those guys but Beckwith play those positions. I like their chances with Beckwith. And like I said last week, considering LSU is about to lose six defensive linemen and maybe a couple of DBs to graduation and the NFL draft, young players at those positions will be aware of an immediate playing time opportunity.
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
It sounds like LSU got a commitment from Quay Bain, but it was supposed to be one of these "silent" commitments, but somebody forgot. Is that the way you see it?
Gary Laney (2:13 PM)
Reading between the lines, it really does sound like what you say. He wants to announce at the Under Armour game, that much he made clear. Sounds like he has where he wants to go to. It was interesting Sunday night when it was leaking that he had committed, then everybody sort of backtracked. It was almost like, "Oh yeah, we're supposed to do this later..."
What's with these greyshirt offers to Cethan Carter and Duke Riley? Do you think they get them?
Gary Laney (2:15 PM)
Particularly with Riley, there are going to be offers to join teams for 2013 and they are both going to have to weight that against sitting out next fall. I think both guys can help LSU. Will they be front-line players? Hard to say, but both are solid football players. I really think Carter would fit in the offense because his ability to play tight end and fullback. Riley is just a solid guy who, worst case, gives you four solid years of special teams play and, best case, is a two-year, solid SEC LB.
Gary Laney (2:16 PM)
I should say two-year solid SEC STARTING LB. A four-year player, of course.
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
Who's the most underrated player coming out in this year's recruiting class?
Gary Laney (2:19 PM)
Wow, if you mean nationally, I'll have to defer a bit to somebody who, unlike me, is a little more focused on the big picture. In LSU's class, there are always guys LSU will secure early, then they skip out on some of the summer camps that help them build their reputation. A Michael Patterson from Winnfield is along those lines. Tre'Davious White from Shreveport played on a poor high school team, but is a fantastic prospect. Those guys. If you are talking about in the state, I'm going with Damian Williams, the QB from 5A state champion Rummel. As of last week, he had no offers and I can't understand how that can be. The kid can play.
Donnell (Baton Rouge)
Gary, do you think that if Bain committs to LSU that it will have a carry over effect of us getting Nkemdiche or any other top DT/DE prospects.
Gary Laney (2:22 PM)
Of course it could, but I can't say that it will. I'm not sure if Bain is any more of an influence on other recruits than, some fella named Denzel at Ole Miss, for example. I think the bigger factor will be what's leaving. We've known for a while that LSU would be losing DL underclassmen, but as they depart now and as LSU's NFL cred becomes more "real" to recruits in real time, I think it will hold more weight.
Micheal (New Orleans)
Gary, do you cover LSU basketball recruiting also, if so what are the possibilites that LSU lands Keith Frazier and ends up with a TOP 5 recruiting class. Man what a job JJ has done in his FIRST YEAR of recruiting. Dale Brown has to be smiling really good right now, what do you think.
Gary Laney (2:25 PM)
I don't know if LSU will get Frazier, but I do think there's a good shot. And if they do, the chances at a top five class are pretty good. Look, Jones is a great recruiter always has been. Robert Kirby is an outstanding recruiter as well. It just so happens that Jones came in a year where an area where he recruited for North Texas, DFW, was stacked with high-end recruits. It's the perfect marriage of opportunity and ability. LSU brought in the right guy at the right time to make a quick impact in recruiting.
Tracy (Baton Rouge)
Gary, do you think coach Miles will open up the offense even more next year with the young defense we have coming back and who of the underclassman do you see returning for their senior year and improving their draft stock for next year's draft.
Gary Laney (2:29 PM)
Yes, I think LSU will pass more, but I don't know if I'd call what I'm anticipating "opening up the offense." If LSU loses six defensive starters to the NFL -- a possibility with Mingo, Montgomery, Logan, Minter, Reid and Simon all considering the option -- then they probably won't have an elite defense. If they don't have an elite defense, instead of leading 17-7 in the fourth quarter of games, they might be in some 21-21 shootout type games. The flow of that kind of game will make you throw more than if you have a great defense and a lead and are inclined to burn clock with the running game. I can see Mettenberger throwing five more passes a game than he threw even in the last four games this season, and not because of any philosophical shift on offense. Does that make sense?
Does lsu end up w both leslie and gardner at the wr spot?
Gary Laney (2:31 PM)
Given that both guys have academic issues, I doubt it. Leslie failed to graduate on schedule, his coach told me, and they were left wondering what LSU's interest level is. Now, if since heard LSU is planning to stick with him even if he can't come for spring practice. Gardner is talking NFL now because of the issues with his eligibility. That doesn't sound too promising. ...
Gary Laney (2:32 PM)
Now, if they are both good to go, does LSU take them both? That's a good question. I don't think LSU has a need for two juco receivers, but if Leslie's in hand and Gardner gets his academics in order, how do you need try to make room for that kind of talent? It would be interesting to see.
Joey (New Orleans)
Damian Williams had NO offers? Didn't he have a Kansas State offer?
Gary Laney (2:36 PM)
He did Damian. The way it was explained to me is Damian had some nice offers in the spring, didn't take them and played summer basketball instead, then the dominoes started falling. Tulane took Tanner Lee from Jesuit in New Orleans. Kansas State took somebody else. UL-Lafayette took somebody else. Other interested schools had coaching changes. It's been a few days since I checked in at Rummel, so I wouldn't be surprised if things have changed, but Damian was left with no offers last week. And the guy can sling it, he's strong, smart, hard-working and a winner. Somebody needs to give that kid a chance, I think.
What are our realistic chances of landing Nkemdiche? Seems like Ole Miss and Bama are a few steps ahead on him.
Gary Laney (2:37 PM)
If you're an Insider, here's a good read: http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/ncfrecruiting/southeast/post/_/id/12731/top-group-in-play-for-no-1-prospect-nkemdiche I hope links work ...
Gary Laney (2:38 PM)
But to elaborate further, it looks like LSU is very much in the picture, judging from what Nkemdiche said in there. Certainly seems, at this point, to have an edge on Alabama. I'd say Ole Miss is still the team to beat though, but it's not the done deal it was a couple weeks ago.
Gary Laney (2:39 PM)
So my link experiment didn't work...you can copy-and-paste into your address bar to read that story though.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Who will step up with Anthony Johnson next year on the defensive line to help anchor the interior of the LSU defense?
Gary Laney (2:42 PM)
I think Ego Ferguson is the favorite to start next to Johnson. I've heard good things about a freshman named Quentin Thomas suggesting that he may be ready to push for serious playing time. Micky Johnson also comes back. I'd expect them all to have to take on a serious challenge from Gilmore, LaCouture and probably Bain. We know Les likes playing true freshmen if they are ready.
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
I can see LSU in a 42-42 game in the fourth quarter and Les giving it to the fullback.
Gary Laney (2:44 PM)
Yeah, yeah. And I can see him behind 21-0 in New Orleans and giving it to the fullback, right? Well, I think there's a level of confidence developing with the passing game right now. Les didn't give fullback dives on passing downs when he had JaMarcus Russell and a pair of first-round draft picks at WR. If he likes what he has at those positions, he'll green light throwing it. I think Les is starting to like what he has.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
I wouldn't count on Gardner. He was supposed to be lining up for Oklahoma this year, but couldn't make the grades, and should have been done by the end of this semester at the latest?
Gary Laney (2:45 PM)
Tony, I don't think anybody is counting on Gardner right now. I think he's a bonus if he can get in. He's not a guy you can plan on because the academic side is so iffy.
Kevin (Houston, TX)
Any chance of any of the stellar defensive underclassmen to return?
Gary Laney (2:48 PM)
There's always a chance, but I doubt it. All three guys appear to be at, or near, their optimal draft position. Take Mingo, his stock has dropped, but only some spots in the first round, from a top-five pick to around the top 10 or so. Is it worth coming back and risking injury when you could take first-round money, even if it's not as high as you originally hoped?
Gary Laney (2:49 PM)
Edit...Kevin, just re-read your question...you were addressing all defensive players, not just DLs, so let me continue my answer...
Gary Laney (2:50 PM)
Minter's interesting. I don't think he's necessarily a first-round pick this year, but he would probably be next year. On the other hand, he's also a graduate now. Does he need to come back to school? Simon didn't have a great year at CB, so he could improve his stock by coming back. I think Reid is like the DLs, he's where he needs to be in the draft, I'd think.
How big a step do you think Zach Mettenberger can make next season?
Gary Laney (2:53 PM)
Huge steps, potentially. Look at his improvement coming off the bye week this year. I think Zach benefited from the chance to sit back and evaluate and develop. I expect him to be better in the bowl game and a lot better coming off the off-season.
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
So, you say LSU can have a top five basketball class. Can they also have a top five football class? Did you'd think you'd ever see the day where that question would be asked?
Gary Laney (2:55 PM)
Funny, Joe. I always thought LSU was a sleeping giant in basketball because Louisiana does produce players and there's a stronger basketball subculture in Louisiana than people realized. But there's also a fan base with high expectations that simply will not support teams that don't win consistently because football and baseball have been so consistently strong...
Gary Laney (2:56 PM)
But yes, LSU can easily have a top five class if it can close with Nkemdiche, Beckwith, Bain and Willis. That's a pretty stout four there.
Clayton (Houston, TX)
How scared are you of Johnny Football and the Ags next year?
Gary Laney (2:58 PM)
Manziel's going to have to be even better next year I think because the Aggies are losing some cornerstone players. Both offensive tackles were outstanding, particularly Joeckel. Moore is a true difference maker on defense. Those kind of players aren't easily replaced.
Gary: I give the SEC a lot of credit for their success as a conference over the past 6- 7 years, but lets be honest about one thing: half the players that play for Alabama, LSU, Florida (don't make me keep going) couldn't even get into Notre Dame if they wanted to. The low academic standards in the SEC is a joke. If ND's academic standards were as low as most of the SEC teams Notre Dame would be on top year in and year out.. The SEC is great, but no SEC team can match Notre Dame in terms of history, fame, tv ratings etc...before this year it had been 20 years since Notre Dame was great, and you know what, they (ND) are still the biggest name in the sport.. your thoughts?
Gary Laney (3:04 PM)
What you say may, or may not, be true. I can't go player for player and see if they would get into Notre Dame. But the perception that the SEC wins because it's willing to take anybody who can play is not true. There are enough great players in the south that Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida and Texas A&M in particular can, in general, be choosy about which ones they gamble on. Nobody else has the depth of talent in the back yard that the SEC schools have. If you ever get a chance, look at one of those maps with the per-capita NFL player production. It's dominated by SEC states. Given that, who's more likely to have to stretch rules or compromise standards to get in, the SEC school, or the school that must come halfway across the country to try to steal a player from an SEC state?
Who's got a bigger fan base LSU or Notre Dame?
Gary Laney (3:06 PM)
Given its history, I'd assume Notre Dame, wouldn't you? As far as being an "elite" power, LSU is very much a Johnny-come-lately in the grand scheme compared to your Alabamas and Notre Dames.
Gary Laney (3:07 PM)
Great chat guys. I'd say come on back next week, but, you know, next Tuesday I think we all have better things to do. So I'll see you guys in January.