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)
We're just over a week from spring practice and, of course, recruiting never starts, so there's lots to chat about. Let's get it started!
Steve (Oklahoma City, Ok)
gary: Now that Cam Cameron is official. Is Zach Mettenberger working on the things that held him back last season (deep throws, intermediate throws, holding on to the ball to long, etc.)?
Gary Laney (2:03 PM)
Steve, absolutely and he'd have been working on those things if Studrawa was still the offensive coordinator. I think Mettenberger and the receivers need better chemistry and the receivers, not just Mettenberger, need more consistency. There were issues at time with the way routes were run, which led to the QB not trusting the QB and "holding" the ball to "see" if the receivers were where they needed to be. This got better as the season went along for the most part and you saw the passing game start to come together. I think both the receivers and Mettenberger understand this and I would imagine the emphasis on putting in work together will be that much greater this off-season. I don't know if they got the most out of the time they spent working together last off-season.
gary, A&M had a big junior day/spring practice start with 3 commits! Do you see LSU having any upcoming days like this?
Gary Laney (2:04 PM)
LSU has its big recruiting picnic during spring practice which will draw a lot of top players. I would imagine LSU might get a couple or a few commits around that time. Before then, LSU is bringing in a few prospects every weekend, so you might get a commit here and there.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who will be the Running Backs for LSU in 2013?
Gary Laney (2:06 PM)
Obviously, Jeremy Hill is your starter and Kenny Hilliard is the backup. I'm waiting til the spring to see how Alfred Blue looks coming off his injury. He might slide to the third back, but on the other hand if he's 100 percent, he can give Hill a run for his money. Remember, Blue was the starter at the beginning of 2012 until he got hurt. And he was looking good too. Magee will likely be a fourth RB and could be a candidate to be the "speed" back.
Joe Dirt (Denham Springs)
I see you went to Zachary. Who was the best player at the combine? Voorhies?
Gary Laney (2:10 PM)
There might not be a better combine player than Dontrell Hilliard, who always runs great 40s, jumps out of the gym, etc. Devin was a little banged up at the end of the season and had been taking a break from it a bit and Zachary marked the re-starting of his training. He didn't run a great 40 (the surface wasn't great). I suspect he'll be better and much faster at future events. He still had a great broad jump, something like 9-8, which is impressive. There were some good young players there too. Remember Xavier Lewis, the CB from East St. John in suburban New Orleans. He'll be one of the better players in La. in 2015.
Who do you think is the next BIG recruit to pull the trigger and commit to LSU. When do you see it happening?
Gary Laney (2:11 PM)
I keep waiting for Tony Brown to pull the trigger. When? Let's see if and when he makes a trip to Baton Rouge. If not then, then I would guess by the picnic.
Jose Juan (Memorial City)
I saw a story on ESPN about Texas starting a pipeline in Louisiana. Will they really take players from LSU or is this just a Texas writer being a fan?
Gary Laney (2:15 PM)
Very good follow up question. Max Olson did a nice story on Texas trying to establish a pipeline in Louisiana in part because of Larry Porter, the former LSU assistant coach who's now RB coach at Texas. I don't think Texas can win many head-to-head matchups with LSU in the heart of Louisiana. What it can do is identify players under LSU's radar for whatever reason and win those or, cherry pick the occasional recruit who is hell-bent on leaving the state (there are more of those than people think) or is highly-regarded, but might not fill an LSU need in a given year. If Texas does a good job evaluating these kinds of players, then I can see Porter having success. What I don't see happening is Texas throwing down the gauntlet and trying to compete with LSU for a state recruit LSU deems a priority. Perhaps the Horns can land an occasional Shiro Davis, but they won't win enough of those to justify their time or expense.
We've been hearing Speedy Noil and/or Tony Brown might commit "soon" for what seems like forever now!! What's up with that!!?
Gary Laney (2:17 PM)
Various reasons. For example, Brown skipped a junior day because he had a big indoor track meet. I still think both guys could end up Tigers before the summer heat kicks in.
Scott (Los Angeles)
Hey Gary. Is it looking like the men's bb team is headed for the NIT again?
Gary Laney (2:20 PM)
Yeah, I'd say LSU is middle-of-the-NIT pack. According to RealTimeRPI.com, LSU is No. 91 as we speak. Considering the NCAA tourney is a 68-team field, that puts LSU smack in the middle-back of the NIT pack. I'd say right now, LSU needs to either win the SEC tournament or win enough games (21 wins or so) to get to host a first-round NIT game.
What are you hearing on Deondre Clark, Tony Brown and Cam Robinson?
Gary Laney (2:22 PM)
I'm trying to wrap my head around Clark, the Oklahoma kid who left both OU and OSU out his top five. Perhaps he's one of those kids hell-bent on leaving home that I referenced to earlier. I hear he likes LSU, so the Tigers are looking good there. I touched on Brown earlier. I'm trying to get a better feel for Cam Robinson, who LSU will have to battle Alabama for.
Ian (Baton Rouge)
Is the recent push for more National Prospects in recruiting (Illinois, California, etc.) outside of what we're used to seeing (Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Georgia) a new approach or something that has just been happening as a result of LSU's success recently?
Gary Laney (2:25 PM)
I do think so, Ian. I also thought it was the product of 2013 not being a great year for Louisiana prospects. There were good prospects, but not a whole lot of high-end guys like you'll see in 2014. This was also true in Texas, which had a relatively down year by its own standards (not by most states' standards though). LSU didn't target a lot of Texans (and missed on them all, unless you want to count Christian LaCouture, who played three years in Texas and his senior year in Nebraska). I think this year, with Louisiana and Texas on the upswing, you'll see a recruiting class that is a little more traditional in its reach. In 2015, Louisiana looks a little more thin, so I'd suspect LSU will spread its wings again that year.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Cam Cameron didn't run the ball enough and sputtered offensiely in Baltimore? Why should Tiger fans believe he'll be different and more efficient as the OC in Baton Rouge?
Gary Laney (2:30 PM)
That's a good question, Tony. I do think, in the NFL, coaches sometimes get stale with their teams. Cameron had been highly regarded for a while and he had good offenses in both San Diego and Baltimore. I think he'll be fine.
Ben (Richmond, KY)
Which of these key returning defensive studs needs to step up the most next season for the defense to not skip a beat: Anthony Johnson, Lamin Barrow, or Craig Loston? Who do you think WILL step up the most?
Gary Laney (2:32 PM)
Johnson. I think the defensive line needs to find a bell cow more than the secondary. The secondary can potentially get leadership from one of the Jalens at the corner and even Ronald Martin looks to me like a guy who can fill a leadership and playmaker void. I think there is so much young talent at linebacker, playmakers will emerge sort of organically. But at d-line, somebody needs to step up and Johnson seems like that guy. I think the pressure's on for him to play like a guy who was the No. 1 DT in the country coming out of high school.
When will the 300 be out and what is a predicted rating on Donnie Alexander?
Gary Laney (2:35 PM)
If I'm not mistaken, it'll be out sometime in April, but initally as a 150. Alexander is going to be a guy who likely will be a climber. He may be in the back half of the 300 somewhere to start -- and this is just me talking here -- but ascend as he camps, as he adds a little bulk and as he shows more in senior season film. If he plays this fall at 215 and still looks as fast on tape as he did as a junior weighing 205, he can shoot up rather quickly.
Scott (Los Angeles)
What does it mean when Saban offers to an 8th grader in La.? It got more attention than when LSU already offered him, but I heard it was just symbolic then. Is he serious or just messing with Les & Co.? C'mon, the kids in 8th grade!
Gary Laney (2:39 PM)
The kid tests out of this world, so I think the interest is genuine. I think his dad is an LSU fan so Saban and Co. may have understood that if they let LSU give the kid all the attention early, they would have no shot in a couple of years. Now, I set up this discussion by talking about his dad, but I'm leaving at that. I mean, the kid will graduates in 2017, right? My goodness, in 2017, we'll all driving flying cars and the I-phone 10 will be out. So much can happen.
Joe Dirt (Baton Rouge)
Who's the best wide receiver in the state?
Gary Laney (2:42 PM)
Depends how you look at it. If you are talking upside, pure prospect, probably Malachi Dupre from John Curtis. If you are talking about a guy who you want for a game this weekend, it's probably Trey Quinn. Both will be fantastic players, but Quinn has a slight advantage of playing in a passing offense while Dupre plays in a split-back veer offense that doesn't throw much. It's a similar deal with the state's other top receiving prospect, Speedy Noil, who's a high school QB who will convert to WR in college.
What are the key recruiting event dates for LSU this spring (the pinic for instance) or in other words, dates to hold your breath on!
Gary Laney (2:46 PM)
You've got me scrambling for my calendar Kevin. I'm forgetting whether the picnic is the weekend of the coaches clinic April 11-13 or the spring game the next weekend. Email me or tweet me @glaneyespn and I promise I'll nail it down.
Gary Laney (2:47 PM)
those are two big weekends right there...
Gary Laney (2:48 PM)
As far as camps go, they have a camp June 2-5, July 14-17 and a 7-on-7/lineman camp July 20
Tony (Richmond, CA)
What is the latest on the health of Tiger great Billy Cannon?
Gary Laney (2:49 PM)
Last I heard, he is out of the hospital and recovering. This was about a week ago.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Are the Tigers an NCAA Tournament team in 2014 with the talent they have coming in?
Gary Laney (2:51 PM)
Very good chance Tony. I think they might be a Top 25 team. There are three impact players in the class in Jarrell Martin, Jordan Mickey and Tim Quarterman. What's exciting is that they are all three between 6-5 and 6-8 and they would allow LSU to go to a lineup of long, athletic players who can switch on screens and be disruptive on defense. Versatility is a big thing with Johnny Jones.
Ben (Richmond, KY)
Are there any top uncommitted prospects in LA that you really do not like LSU's chances in landing (like Tim Williams last year)?
Gary Laney (2:53 PM)
I'm not aware of any of the 12 guys we currently have on our ESPN Watch list for 2014 who seem as enamored with out of state programs like Williams or Standish Dobard, the TE from Karr who chose Miami. There are plenty of guys keeping their options open, like the Monroe 3 (Robinson, Sims and Jones), Trey Quinn and others, but none seem particularly caught up in another program at this point. That said, I'd be surprised if LSU was able to go 12-for-12 with them.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
What is the Tigers biggest OOC game this year?
Gary Laney (2:55 PM)
TCU in the opener, no doubt (but you know that, being in Plano, right?). By the way, it was announced today as an 8 p.m. kickoff on ESPN, so it's a primetime game against a Big 12 power in, basically, their home town. Tough out to start the season for LSU.
Bryan Roy (?)
I know that no other in state offers have been handed out at RB as of now. But they did offer the Karr TE Anthony Jones this weekend and he was on campus.
Gary Laney (2:58 PM)
Bryan, I saw this in the comments section, so I cut and pasted it for you. I hear they offered Jones, but it's not necessarily a "committable" offer. And if you ask me the difference between a "committable" offer and a non-offer, then I'll have to learn how to express a shrug online. Seriously, I think LSU wanted to express a genuine interest in Jones, but they probably want him to camp so they can further evaluate him.
I wanna know who else they're recruiting for RB besides Fournette.
Gary Laney (3:02 PM)
Right now, I think LSU would be quiet to other TOP RBs as they pursue Fournette, who is the priority at the moment. I think if the Fournette recruitment ends early, you'll hear more about other prospects. They'll be interested in the Williams kid from suburban New Orleans and the Palelei kid from suburban Baton Rouge in-state, I'd think. There's also a good RB from around Lake Charles named Ledet. I haven't had a chance to see him play yet.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think the Tigers will dethrone Alabama in the West? Or is the defense not solid/experienced enough this year for LSU to make it to Atlanta?
Gary Laney (3:03 PM)
Too early to say. If Johnson is what he has the potential to be and if somebody emerges at DE, then I think the defense will be fine. There is plenty of experience at LB and on the back end for the defense to function just fine. It's just a matter of, are there PLAYERS up front.
it sounds a lot like the Bama offers (conditional on camp performance). sounds ridiculous, dont offer them yet then.
Gary Laney (3:05 PM)
Not just Bama, it's a common practice. I think what it does is, it gives a kid incentive to attend camp. I don't think teams generally make these offers unless the interest is genuine. They won't tell a kid they don't think is good enough to play for them that they have a shot if they would just come to camp.
Gary Laney (3:06 PM)
Time's up guys. If anybody had trouble getting their questions asked (it seemed that way in the comments section), shoot me an email at email@example.com or tweet me at @glaneyespn and we'll figure it out! Thanks, so you next week!