Thursday, February 8, 2007

Papelbon will likely remain in rotation

BOSTON -- One day in advance of his early-bird arrival at Spring Training, Red Sox manager Terry Francona held court with reporters at Fenway Park on Tuesday and touched on a bevy of issues surrounding his team.
Perhaps the most telling statement the manager made was in regard to Jonathan Papelbon, who is slated for the starting rotation despite the fact there are plenty of skeptics who think the righty will wind up back in the closer's role out of necessity.
"To be perfectly honest, I suppose the possibility exists, but I think it's a very long shot," Francona said. "I think a lot of things have to happen for that to eventually happen, and I don't see that happening. The first thing is that he'd have to be medically cleared to do it, and that's the reason he's in the starting rotation.
"It's not because we don't think he can close. If I had my druthers, he would be our closer. That's how I feel. It's not happening. We have to respect the medical people's advice -- and I do. I'm not fighting it. They think for his long term, not only success, but health, this is the way to go about it. And I understand that, so we'll do it. Unless that changed, it can't happen.
"On top of that, we'd have to have a bullpen that was struggling, we'd have to have him as a starter that was struggling, which I don't foresee happening. There's too many things that would have to happen for him to go back to the bullpen that I don't think are going to happen. But to completely rule it out, I don't know if that's fair. But you've heard what I just said, it's a really long shot."
And be sure about this. There's no chance Papelbon will be the closer on Opening Day in Kansas City.
"No, that won't happen in Spring Training," said Francona. "I'm telling you, that's not going to happen. I was talking way into the season."
If not Papelbon, then who will be the closer? Barring an upset, it looks to be a four-horse race between Julian Tavarez, Brendan Donnelly, Mike Timlin and Joel Pineiro.
"I have some ideas how it's going to unfold," Francona said. "The four right-handers, we'll sit down and talk to them individually and as a group when I get down there and explain to them that those are the four veteran guys that we want to see throw some innings late in the games. We'll explain to them that we want them to build arm strength in the beginning; we don't want guys going out the first week and throwing 3-0 breaking balls and trying to have a low ERA in Spring Training so they can be the closer.

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"As we get into the spring and we're gearing it up, we'll tell them how we feel, what we're looking for. And then we'll put it together. The hope would be by the end of camp, we've got roles for everybody. It doesn't always work that way. If they pitch well and throw strikes, it will work that way. And then there's guys like [Craig] Hansen and [Manny] Delcarmen. Where they fit, we honestly don't know. The way they pitch will tell us."
Not all the buzz is over the bullpen. For Spring Training figures to feature plenty of Matsuzaka-mania. Everything Daisuke Matsuzaka does this season will be a focal point.
The Red Sox are doing everything they can to make the transition a smooth one for the Japanese star. Pitching coach John Farrell recently spent time with Matsuzaka in Southern California.
"John came back and was really pleased with his visit," said Francona. "He said he's basically a normal 26-year-old, likes to have fun, quick to smile, threw the ball real well off flat ground the day he saw him [and] gave a lot of input during their lunch together, which was good. Again, we're at a disadvantage communicating, which can be frustrating. But we need to get around that as much as we can."
Another interesting thing to watch will be how Matsuzaka adjusts to a five-man rotation after so many years of pitching every sixth day in Japan. Look for Francona to ease that adjustment early in the season by giving all five of his pitchers and extra day of rest every time there is an off-day.
"You know what, he's thrown a lot of innings," Francona said. "He's 26, but he's got a lot of innings under his belt. He's made a lot of adjustments along the way through his career. And the other thing is, too, we have some age in [Curt Schilling] and [Tim Wakefield]. So we may use it this year differently than we have in the past. We may not skip a guy, we may go ahead and just keep five starters, especially in April. It won't completely be different [for Matsuzaka], at least in the beginning."
Then there are the rehabbing pitchers. Jon Lester is coming off cancer and Matt Clement is still on the road to recovery after comprehensive surgery on his right shoulder.
"I had a conversation with [Lester] about a month ago about being cautious and being slow, and he didn't want to hear any part of it," Francona said. "But he is a smart enough kid to understand that we have his best interests in mind. I'm not smart enough medically to know what that is. When we get down there, I think we'll sit with him, the doctors and the trainers and try to put together a schedule with the trainers that we think is in his best interest.
"We don't want to hold him back. If he's hard worker, which we know he is, we don't want to hold him back just for the sake of holding him back. But we also don't want to let him hurt himself, because he is a good kid and a hard worker. He's had a traumatic winter. We need to be smart in how we handle him -- and we will."
Though there was speculation that Clement would miss all of 2007 after having his rotator cuff and labrum repaired, the righty is said to be making good progress.
"He has not started a throwing program yet. But I believe he is doing very well," Francona said. "There's some thought to maybe him starting his throwing program a little quicker because he's doing better than normal. You'll see him in Spring Training along with the rest of the guys, but he'll definitely be on his own program."
Of course, anticipation for Spring Training would not be complete without wonderment about Manny Ramirez's happiness. Again, a winter of trade rumors led to no trade for one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball.
"I think I talked to him in early December," Francona said. "I think he's talked to Pookie [Jackson] and the clubhouse kids lately, but I haven't been part of that. I think he's OK. I don't think there's any problems."
Francona didn't say if Ramirez would report with the rest of the position players on Feb. 20. Last year, the team granted Ramirez permission to report on March 1.
One player who won't be reporting to camp with the Red Sox is Todd Helton. Trade discussions with the Rockies ended last week. Mike Lowell, who was rumored to be going to Colorado with Tavarez and a prospect or two, has already ended any awkwardness that might have existed when he reports to camp.
"He has a very good understanding of this game," Francona said "When I called him, the way he answered the phone was, 'Now hitting sixth for the Rockies.' He's got a good grasp of what's going on; he's been around the game long enough, he knows. He's easy to like. Nobody is trying to run him out of town."
Last year, catcher and captain Jason Varitek was a shell of himself because of injuries to various parts of his body. His hitting suffered mightily.
This year?
"Jason Varitek feels great," said Francona. "Physically, he feels fantastic and he's ready to go."
Non-roster invitees: In other news, the Red Sox officially announced their list of 18 non-roster invitees for Spring Training.
The six pitchers are Abe Alvarez, Adam Bernero, Mike Burns, Bryan Corey, Runelvys Hernandez and Travis Hughes. The three catchers are Dusty Brown, Kevin Cash and Alberto Castillo. The six infielders are Jeff Bailey, Luis Jimenez, veteran utilityman Joe McEwing, Ed Rogers, Bobby Scales and third base prospect Chad Spann. The outfield trio is led by top prospect Jacoby Ellsbury and also includes veteran Alex Ochoa (making a return from Japan) and Kerry Robinson.

Ed Orgeron Signing Day Press Conference

We’re very excited about our signing class. I want to thank my coaching staff and all of the administrative staff for working very hard for one full year to come with a class that we’re very excited about. There are a couple of things I’d like to talk about. First of all, we’re very excited that again we’ve signed the top player in the state of Mississippi, Chris Strong. We feel that he is going to be an outstanding player and that’s where we start our recruiting. Then we went to get the best JC middle linebacker in Tony Fein. He was who we found to fill our No. 1 need, to replace Patrick Willis. We’re very happy to get Tony, and we feel that he can come in immediately and is going to be a great player. We’ve got a top 10 recruit from last year in Jevan Snead. He’s already here and has demonstrated that he will be a leader and will be a fantastic quarterback in the future for the Ole Miss Rebels, and we’re very excited about him. We went to Louisiana with (assistant coach) Frank Wilson and got the best offensive lineman in Rishaw Johnson. It was a battle and Frank battled to the very end and did a fantastic job of recruiting him. We had to get a tall receiver and we got the No. 1 JC receiver A.J. Jackson. We’re excited about him. We figure he’s going to fill an immediate need for a tall receiver in our offense. I feel we got the best nose tackle in the South in Ted Laurent. Ted has been committed to us for a long time. He’s extremely quick, and we think he’ll be able to help us in the middle. Again we landed the best player in the city of Memphis, Roderick Davis. I’m pleased to have started in Mississippi and go regional to get some big time players. Talking about positions, defensive backs we have Johnny Brown, Colby Arceneaux, Jamariey Atterberry, Jamison Hughes, and Fon Ingram. We think we have a fine group there. We lost some guys this year, and we think we’re very athletic in that group. We needed some linebackers. LaDerrick Vaughn is already on campus. He signed with us last year and is already doing well. Scottie Williams, Chris Strong, Isaiah Smith, Tony Fein, Lamar Brumfield, we think that those guys will be able to step in immediately and help us. On the defensive line we needed help inside. I spoke about Ted Laurent. We’ve got Justin Sanders, a very tough, very strong kid from the state of Alabama. We went into Florida and got Lawon Scott, another 300-pounder. We’re excited about those guys. Our offensive line is big. Bradley Sowell, 330 pounds, Alex Washington, 348 pounds, Mark Jean-Louis, 350 pounds, and I talked to you about Rishaw Johnson at 315 pounds. We’ve got big offensive linemen, and our coaches did a great job. And also when those guys come to campus, they love Coach (Art) Kehoe. At wide receiver, we’ve got some speed there. Lionel Breaux runs a 4.4 in the 40, another guy from Louisiana we’re proud to have. I’ve talked to you about Roderick Davis. Roderick came to our camp last summer, and we thought that he was a fantastic player. It was a battle all the way. Coach Hugh Freeze did a great job of recruiting him and A.J. Jackson. Another guy I haven’t talked about with the defensive backs is Ashlee Palmer. He's 6-2, 214 pounds, from Compton and is already working out with our team, and he looks fantastic. I’ve talked to you also about Jevan Snead. Overall we’re excited. We’re excited about the work our coaching staff did, and we’re excited to see these young men come play for the Ole Miss Rebels.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

First Hand Report from Bayou Bash

Signing day was fun. When we first got there the beer lines long and the place was packed.

There were a number of boths with almost any kind of LSU paraphenalia to buy. And of course a sea of purple and gold.

As recruits signed their names, statistics, and recruitting films would appear on the projection screens scattered throughout the River Center.

When McKnight made his decisions, there were loud boos and everyone was then ready for lunch. Lunch lines were long and took about 30 minutes to get through.
But the food was good, there were tiger burgers, jambalaya, Popeye's chicken, Hooter's wings, hot dogs, salads, etc.

The excitement returned to the crown after Terrence Tolliver's signing was announced. It was only surpassed by the cheering at Chad Jones's signing. We finally found empty chairs and sat down for the rest of the day. The best way to attend is by purchasing a table. VIP tables were closer to the stage and received special treatment.
All in all the event was alot of fun.

I found that it was easier to take pictures of the big screens rather trying to get pictures of the stage.

During the day former Tigers would appear on stage, one of whom was Kyle Williams. Towards the end of the evening the Golden Girls and the Tiger Band performed.

Then came the climax, Les Miles arrival. He started off by saying "One got away, but we got everyone we needed."
After a standing ovation , he began reviewing the signings saying, "We signed prospects from Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, 5 from Texas, 11 from Louisian. We will always recruit heavily in our home state. " The crowd cheered again. "And we went into Alabama and signed 2." At that the crown erupted into a roar shouting LSU, LSU, LSU. Miles also said ther are always rivalries. "We look forward to playing Auburn and Florida, but now we have one heck of arivalry." Again the crown erupted. He didn't even mention Alabama by name.

Miles then went over each signee thanking each coach involved with the recruitment. Finally he introduced each coach and their families. All got standing ovations.

Attached are a couple of pictures from today.


LSU Signee Sidell Corley

U.S. Army All-American Bowl Participant (East Roster) The 150 Top 100 for 2007SuperPrep All-American
A blue-chip defensive end rated among the top-three overall players in the state of Alabama ... Known for fighting off blocks with his size and speed ... Good acceleration off the ball ... A standout at the Alabama Junior All-Star Game and U.S. Army All-American Bowl for the East team ... Ranked the fourth-best strongside defensive end in the nation by ... A member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super Southern 100 and 150 ... Showed his versatility by lining up at both defensive end positions, defensive tackle, fullback, tight end, and linebacker ... Recorded 80 tackles and six sacks as a junior ... Bench presses 335 pounds and squats 465 pounds ... Registered a 32-inch vertical jump ... Coached by Steve Savarese ... His father is an assistant coach at McGill-Toolen ... Teammates with fellow LSU signee Phelon Jones ... Born Nov. 12, 1988.

LSU Signee Phelon Jones

2006 Alabama Gatorade Player of the YearThe 150
One of the elite all-around athletes in the Southeast and considered one of the top-five recruits in the state of Alabama for 2007 ... Has the size, speed and quickness to excel in coverage or catching the football ... Shows quick hips with an ability to lock down on receivers ... Rated the No. 13 cornerback in the nation by and the 51st prospect overall by ... Named the 2006 Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year after a stellar senior year at wide receiver, cornerback and kick returner ... Finished with 96 tackles and two interceptions and tallied 1,085 all-purpose yards in 2006 ... Also received Class 6A first-team all-state honors ... Timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash ... Bench presses 315 pounds and squats 455 pounds ... Recorded a 36-inch vertical jump ... Also an outstanding track athlete as a triple jumper and long jumper ... Teammates with fellow LSU signee Sidell Corley ... Comes from an athletic family ... His father, Tony, is the defensive backs coach at McGill-Toolen ... Has two brothers, Tiger and Carvel ... Tiger plays for the New Orleans Voodoo in the Arena Football League, while Carvel is a linebacker at Troy ... His cousin is Robert McCune, a former Louisville standout and current Washington Redskins' linebacker ... Maintained a 3.0 GPA ... Coached by Steve Savarese ... Born Nov. 28, 1988.

LSU Signee T-Bob Hebert

The top center prospect in the Southeast for 2007 ... Intelligent player who punished opponents ... Ranked the No. 2 center in the nation by and was a four-star selection ... Received three stars by as the nation's eighth-best center ... Proved to be a dominant two-way lineman at Greater Atlanta Christian High School ... Member of the 150 and Atlanta Journal-Constitution Georgia Top 50 ... Had arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder to repair a torn labrum and played his last nine games of the 2006 season with basically one arm ... Posted a 91 percent blocking average as a junior with 54 pancake blocks ... Totaled 28 tackles and five sacks at nose guard in 2005 ... Bench presses 290 pounds and squats 405 pounds ... Grew up an LSU fan ... Son of former New Orleans Saints' great quarterback Bobby Hebert ... Maintained a 3.4 GPA ... Coached by Jimmy Chupp ... Born Feb. 9, 1989.

LSU Signee Ron Brooks

.S. Army All-American Bowl Participant (West Roster) Hot 100 for 2007SuperPrep All-American
One of the top all-around athletes in the state of Texas and the nation ... A standout, dual-threat quarterback at MacArthur High School as a senior ... Notorious for turning small plays into big gains ... Very elusive and dangerous in the open field ... A versatile talent with great hands ... Played a prominent offensive roll in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl for the West team in January ... As a senior, rushed for 1,264 yards and 19 touchdowns ... Also threw for 882 yards and nine touchdowns ... Named the District 7-5A MVP as a senior ... Racked up 322 yards in total offense with six touchdowns in a game against North Garland on Sept. 14 (168 yards rushing and 153 yards passing) ... Tallied 43 receptions for 778 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior ... Also recorded over 300 yards in returning punts and kicks in 2006 ... Timed at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash with a 32-inch vertical leap ... Coached by Brian Basil ... His father, Anthony, played for the Chicago Bears in 1993 ... Born Oct. 16, 1988.

LSU Signee Stevan Ridley

Widely-considered the top all-around athlete in the state of Mississippi ... Two-way star who played running back, fullback, quarterback, and linebacker in high school ... Rated the No. 5 fullback recruit in the nation by ... Named first team all-state by the Clarion Ledger after accumulating 3,089 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns as a senior ... Also passed for 627 yards ... Totaled 85 tackles at linebacker ... Awarded as the 2006 Natchez Democrat Metro Player of the Year ... Led his team to the 1A state championship, a game in which he had 52 carries for 317 yards and three touchdowns ... As a junior, tallied over 2,300 all-purpose yards, including 1,800 yards rushing with 22 touchdowns ... Timed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash and recorded a 33-inch vertical leap ... Coached by David King ... Born Jan. 27, 1989.

LSU Signee Stefoin Francois

U.S. Army All-American Bowl Participant (West Roster) Top 100 for 2007 Hot 100 for 2007SuperPrep All-American
One of the premier hard-hitting safety prospects in the nation who has a promising future at LSU ... A tough, tenacious athlete with elite instincts ... Has the strength and speed to cover any wide receiver in the nation but also possesses linebacking skills ... Rated the No. 8 safety in the nation by and No. 5 by ... Ranked by SuperPrep as the sixth-best defensive back in the country ... Considered the No. 63 overall prospect in the nation by ... Member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super Southern 100, New Orleans Times Picayune's Blue-Chip List and Baton Rouge Advocate Super Dozen ... called by recruiting analyst Tom Lemming "one of the hardest hitting defensive players in the country and one of the most dominating players in the South" ... Played for the winning West team in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl ... Received Class 5A first-team all-state recognition after finishing his senior season with 81 tackles and five sacks ... Racked up 97 tackles (61 solos), five sacks and two interceptions as a junior ... Bench presses 270 pounds and squats 390 pounds ... Timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash and registered a 30-inch vertical jump ... High school teammates with current LSU quarterback Ryan Perilloux ... Coached by Larry Dauterive ... Born Dec. 25, 1987.

LSU Signee Drake Nevis

The top interior defensive line prospect in the state and one of the best at his position in the nation ... Explosive off the ball and a dominating presence inside ... Rated the No. 8 defensive tackle prospect in the nation by ... Received Class 5A first-team all-state honors with 72 tackles (17 for losses), 18 sacks, 25 quarterback hurries, eight forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles as a senior ... 2006 MVP of the New Orleans Times Picayune's All-Metro team and a SuperPrep All-American ... Member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super Southern 100, New Orleans Times Picayune's Blue-Chip List and Baton Rouge Advocate Super Dozen ... Recorded 80 tackles and eight sacks as a junior ... Timed at 4.85 in the 40-yard dash ... Bench presses 435 pounds ... Coached by Billy North ... Born May 8, 1989.

LSU Signee John Williams

One of the prized all-around athletes in the state for 2007 who can play on both sides of the ball ... Excelled at quarterback and free safety for Breaux Bridge ... Is expected to be a defensive back for the Tigers ... Received Class 4A first team all-state recognition after making 63 tackles with three picks as a senior ... As a senior, rushed for 511 yards on 52 carries and seven touchdowns ... Member of the Baton Rouge Advocate Super Dozen and New Orleans Times Picayune's Blue-Chip List ... Enjoyed a fabulous junior campaign and was named to the Class 4A all-state first team after leading the squad to its first-ever state championship ... As a junior quarterback, rushed for 660 yards and 10 touchdowns and threw for 641 yards and six touchdowns ... Was also an effective punt and kick returner ... Named the Athlete of the Week on Sept. 7, 2005 for his performance in a win against Lafayette ... Rushed 10 times for 98 yards and one touchdown, completed a touchdown pass and scampered 78 yards on a fumble return in the final seconds of the game for the winning score ... Comes from a high school program that produced LSU defensive backs Jessie Daniels and Jonathan Zenon ... Coached by Michael Mowad ... Cousin of former LSU star and NFL running back Domanick Davis ... Born Jan. 18, 1989.

LSU Signee Ernest McCoy

One of the leading offensive line prospects in the state of Florida ... Massive size with good athletic ability ... Tremendous quickness for his size ... Has the tools to develop into a solid player ... Ranked the No. 13 offensive guard in the nation by and a four-star selection by ... Considered one of the top 40 overall prospects in Florida ... Helped lead Glades Central to the 3A state championship and a national ranking as a senior ... Received Class 3A second-team all-state accolades ... One of several blue-chip recruits on the Glades Central roster ... Coached by Willie Snead ... Born Jan. 8, 1988.

LSU Signee Shomari Clemons

2006 Top 250 Top Safeties (11) Louisiana Top 25 (6) Top Linebackers (43)SuperPrep All-Southwest Louisiana Top 20 (10)Baton Rouge Advocate Second DozenMobile Register Super Southeast 120 (49)New Orleans Times-Picayune Top 16 Blue-Chip ListLSWA First-Team Class 5A All-State
Signed with LSU again in 2007 after originally signing with the Tigers a year ago ... Did not enroll at LSU and sat out the entire 2006 season getting qualified ... One of the top defenders in Louisiana as a senior at West Monroe High School in 2005 ... Named to the Baton Rouge Advocate Second Dozen for 2005 as well as being a member of the New Orleans Times-Picayune Top 16 Blue Chip list in 2005 ... Helped lead West Monroe to its first Class 5A state championship since 2000 in 2005 ... Recorded 54 tackles with three tackles for loss en route to earning all-state honors as a linebacker as a senior ... Had 60 tackles and five sacks as a junior despite missing the first six games due to injury ... Coached by Don Shows ... Born Dec. 17, 1986.

LSU Signee Will Blackwell

A blue-chip defensive lineman rated among the best in the nation at his position ... Extremely strong with a great work ethic and a knack at stopping the run ... Comes from a winning program after leading West Monroe to consecutive state titles in 2004 and 2005 ... Ranked in's Top 100 for 2007 ... Member of the Baton Rouge Advocate Super Dozen, New Orleans Times Picayune's Blue-Chip List and Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super Southern 100 ... Started sophomore through senior seasons and was named to the Class 5A all-state first team twice ... Finished his senior season with 54 tackles four forced fumbles, recorded four sacks and returned an interception for a touchdown ... Racked up 80 tackles and eight sacks as junior ... Bench presses 325 pounds and squats 525 pounds ... Coached by Don Shows ... Grandson of longtime West Monroe defensive coordinator Jerry Arledge ... Born Jan. 24, 1989.

Alex Russian

A blue-chip tight end from the state of Texas ... Ranked the 21st-best tight end in the nation by ... Member of the Houston Chronicle Top 100 and earned Class 5A honorable mention all-state honors ... Had 22 receptions for 315 yards and seven touchdowns ... Led his team to a regional semifinal berth in the Class 5A playoffs ... Caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the Dragons' win over A&M Consolidated at College Station ... The team later upset undefeated Lufkin in the area round, a game in which he had four receptions for 57 yards and one touchdown ... Bench presses 330 pounds and squats 425 pounds ... Recorded a 33-inch vertical jump ... Coached by Lanny Wilson ... Born Jan. 26, 1989.

LSU Signee Jarvis Jones

One of the top offensive line prospects in the state of Texas and the Southwest region ... Long arms (seven-foot wing span) with excellent pass-blocking ability ... Reads the field well, makes smart decisions and never quits ... An imposing force who still has plenty of room to grow ... Rated the No. 10 offensive tackle in the nation by ... A member of the Houston Chronicle Top 100 for Texas ... Was a defensive end early in his career until he was moved to the offensive line after his sophomore season ... Played in the inaugural Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ... Helped his team to a semifinal berth in the playoffs in 2006 ... As a junior, earned first-team all-district honors on the offensive line after recording 54 pancake blocks and giving up no sacks ... Bench presses 295 pounds and squats 535 pounds ... Has a vertical jump of 29 inches ... Plans to major in dentistry ... Coached by Lydell Wilson ... Born Feb. 28, 1988

LSU Signee Kentravis Aubry

Considered one of the state's top defensive line prospects for 2007 ... A physical presence on the line who was an aggressive force in the backfield ... Great size and athleticism ... Tabbed as a four-star prospect by ... Member of the Baton Rouge Advocate Super Dozen, New Orleans Times Picayune's Blue-Chip List and Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super Southern 100 ... Tallied 57 tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery as a senior ... Led Bastrop to a perfect 15-0 season and a Class 4A state title along with fellow LSU signee DeAngelo Benton ... A two-time, first-team Class 4A all-state selection ... As a junior, recorded 52 tackles -- 13 for losses and 10 sacks -- and three fumble recoveries en route to a state championship ... Bench presses 385 pounds ... Coached by Brad Bradshaw ... Born Feb. 19, 1988.

LSU Signee Jarrett Lee

Impressive pocket-passing quarterback ranked in the top three in the state of Texas and the top 15 in the nation ... Great arm strength with pinpoint accuracy and a quick release ... Has a knack for making good decisions and placing the tough throws ... Member of the Houston Chronicle Top 100 ... According to scouts, had a standout week at the inaugural Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ... Led his team to a District 18-4A championship and a berth in the state playoff semifinals as a senior ... Completed 170-of-264 passes for 2,384 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior ... Had a 64 percent completion percentage in 2006 and was voted district MVP ... Connected on 250 of his 350 passes as a junior for 3,425 yards and 40 touchdowns in a spread offense ... Named the 2005 Greater Houston Offensive MVP and was an all-state selection ... Bench presses 270 pounds and squats 415 pounds ... Recorded a 32-inch vertical jump ... Also a member of the basketball team ... His father, Stephen, was an assistant coach at Brenham High School ... Lists his favorite sports hero as John Elway ... Coached by Glen West ... Born June 2, 1989.

The No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the state and one of the top 15 wide outs in the nation ... Tall with great size and athleticism ... Skilled at going up and getting the ball in double coverage ... A consensus four-star, high school All-American by and ... Member of the Baton Rouge Advocate Super Dozen, New Orleans Times Picayune's Blue-Chip List and Atlanta Journal-Constitution Super Southern 100 ... Named the 2006 Class 4A MVP after hauling in 40 passes for 947 yards and 15 touchdowns in leading Bastrop to its second straight state championship ... Averaged 23.6 yards per a catch as a senior ... Caught 41 passes for 869 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior ... Averaged 19.9 yards per a catch in 2006 ... Clocked a 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash with a 37-inch vertical jump ... Teammates with fellow LSU signee Kentravis Aubrey ... Coached by Brad Bradshaw ... Born Nov. 17, 1987.

LSU Signee Jordan Corbin

The No. 1 tight end out of the state of Florida ... Great athleticism and speed for his size ... Possesses a powerful lower body and is known for great run blocking ability ... Can take on linebackers ... Outstanding on the defensive line but projects to play tight end for the Tigers ... Comes from a winning program at Lakeland High School that produced three Class 5A state championships during his career ... The 2006 team finished ranked No. 3 nationally ... Missed his entire senior season due to injury ... Earned third-team all-state honors after tallying five receptions for 120 yards in 2005 ... Also recorded 57 tackles, including 24 behind the line as a junior ... As a sophomore, averaged 17.8 yards per catch and had 58 tackles and two sacks ... Started as a defensive line as a freshman ... Maintained a 3.0 GPA throughout his career ... Coached by William Castle ... Born Jan. 6, 1989.

LSU Signee Delvin Breaux

Excellent cornerback who ranks in the top 20 at his position in the nation ... Can lockdown on a receiver and play press coverage ... Suffered a season-ending neck injury in October and fractured three vertebrae but projects to make a full comeback in the near future ... Displayed tremendous character and fight through the emotional times following his serious injury ... Member of the Baton Rouge Advocate Second Dozen ... Only recorded one interception as a senior because teams rarely through in his direction ... Missed most of his junior season because of a broken leg ... Timed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash ... Coached by Wayne Reese Sr. ... Brother Lionel Breaux is an Ole Miss signee ... Born Oct. 25, 1989.

Josh Dwaoraczyk

The No. 1 offensive line prospect in the state for 2007 ... Great footwork and speed and is known for his excellent leadership skills ... Named to the 250 with a four-star rating ... Played in the inaugural Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ... Member of the New Orleans Times Picayune's Blue-Chip List and Baton Rouge Advocate Second Dozen ... Showed his versatility by being a standout on the defensive line as well ... Named 2006 district MVP and Class 3A first-team all-state on defense with 99 tackles -- 28 for losses -- and 11 sacks ... Had 70 tackles and five sacks as a junior ... Plans to major in marketing at LSU ... Maintained a 3.5 GPA ... Coached by David Comeaux ... Born Sept. 19, 1989.

Tigre Signee Mitch Joseph

One of the top blocking tight ends in the state and the nation ... Has an ability to stretch defenses and is a big target ... Soft hands and good concentration ... Rated the nation's No. 20 tight end by and No. 5 by ... As a senior, hauled in 17 passes for 254 yards ... Earned Class 3A all-state honors as a junior after catching 16 passes for 404 yards and two touchdowns ... Member of the New Orleans Times Picayune's Blue-Chip List and Baton Rouge Advocate Second Dozen ... Timed at 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash ... Bench presses 250 pounds and squats 400 pounds ... Coached by David Comeaux ... Born Dec. 13, 1989.

Tigre Signee Terrance Tolliver

Parade All-American U.S. Army All-American Bowl Participant (West Roster) The 150 Top 100 for 2007 Hot 100 for 2007 SuperPrep All-American
An elite wide receiver rated in the top five at his position in the nation ... Rated the No. 1 wide receiver in America by and ... Ranked the No. 11 overall prospect in the nation by ... Considered the second-best receiver in the country by ... One of the top three players in the state of Texas ... Outstanding hands and speed with prototypical size ... Has a knack for toughness and gaining yards after the catch ... Great field presence and knows how to get open ... Dangerous in the open field ... Named to the Parade All-America team with fellow LSU wide receiver signee DeAngelo Benton ... Played for the West team at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas ... Made four catches for 27 yards and one touchdown in a winning effort ... Hauled in 42 passes for 861 yards and six touchdowns as a senior ... Caught 50 passes for 780 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior ... Averaged 22.4 yards per a catch ... Also recorded 51 tackles at free safety in 2005 ... Member of the Houston Chronicle Top 100 and the Austin American-Statesman 55 ... Was also the Texas state long jump champion and a double-figure scorer on the basketball team ... Timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash ... Coached by Ricky Sargent ... Born May 7, 1988.

LSU Signee Josh Jasper

Promising place kicker who comes to LSU after prepping at Ridgeway High School in Memphis, Tenn. ... Rated as the 12th-best kicker in the nation by ... Holds the Tennessee state record for field goals with 44 during his career ... Named Tennessee’s Mr. Football in 5A twice ... Career long field goal of 54 yards ... Twice named Class 5A first-team all-state honors ... As a junior, connected on 17 of his 21 field goals and 53 of his 57 extra points ... Received honorable mention all-state honors as a sophomore ... Was also a prominent midfielder soccer player and was a first-team all-metro selection by the Memphis Commercial Appeal ... Coached by John Cooley ... Born Nov. 26, 1987.

LSU Signee Demetrius Byrd

One of the most coveted JUCO wide receivers ... Comes to LSU after two seasons at Pearl River Community College and will have two seasons of remaining eligibility ... Received a four-star rating as a member of's Top 100 junior college prospects ... Caught 45 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore ... Led the Wildcats to their fourth straight MACJC state championship ... Hauled in the game-winning touchdown on a 36-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter of the title game resulting in a 21-20 victory ... Originally signed with Florida International after graduating from Miami Central High School ... Timed at 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash ... Coached by Tim Hatten ... Born June 30, 1986.

Tiger Signee Andrew Crutchfield

Considered one of the top-five kickers in the nation ... Ranked the No. 3 kicker in the country by and ... Voted the No. 1 kicker in the nation by Chris Sailer Kicking ... Earned first-team Associated Press all-state honors as a senior ... Converted on 39 of his 42 PATs and was 5-of-9 on field goals as a junior ... Placed 85 percent of his kickoffs in the endzone ... Chose to attend LSU because of the indoor practice facility and academic center ... Coached by Mike Helms ... Born Feb. 18, 1989.

Tiger Signee Joseph Barksdale

The top defensive tackle prospect in the Midwest who is a consensus five-star recruit by every recruiting publication ... Graduated from high school in December and is currently enrolled at LSU for the spring semester ... Will be able to participate in the Tigers' spring workouts ... Massive stature, strong hands and extremely powerful ... Was pure dominant on the high school level and rarely challenged ... Tremendous first step off the ball with tenacity ... Very mature for his age with a solid work ethic ... Becomes the first state of Michigan signee in school history ... Named to the prestigious Parade All-America Team ... Dazzled scouts at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl as a member of the East team ... Called by recruiting analyst Tom Lemming "one of the top-five defensive tackle prospects in America" ... Compared to former U.S. Army All-American and current Baltimore Raven Haloti Ngata ... Chosen by the Detroit News as their No. 1 blue-chip prospect ... A member of the Top 100 and Hot 100 ... Also named a SuperPrep All-American ... Named to the Detroit News "Dream Team" after recording 73 tackles (17 for losses), 14 hurries, seven sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles as a senior ... Received all-city honors as a junior after making 83 tackles (20 for losses), five forced fumbles, eight sacks and 10 fumble recoveries ... Bench presses 445 pounds with a 28-inch vertical jump ... A scholar-athlete in the classroom who finished with a 3.5 GPA ... Chose to attend LSU because of the football tradition and fine engineering program ... Plans to major in electrical engineering at LSU ... Coached by Thomas Wilcher ... Born Jan. 1, 1989.

McKnight Chooses USC

Oh Nooooooooooooooooooooo!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

By Mike Farrell, Special to, From
If there's one team that can catch Florida in the battle for the mythical football recruiting title of 2007, it's LSU.
While the Gators have been chomping away at Miami and Florida State to own the state of Florida, LSU is looking to close well in its stomping grounds in an attempt to pass the national champions.
Florida coach Urban Meyer has garnered a lot of the attention since the New Year began. Winning a national title and having an amazing recruiting class will cause that to happen. However, don't sleep on LSU's Les Miles. If Miles and his staff can close out on three key blue-chippers, there's an outside chance they could give Florida a run for their money on Wednesday, National Signing Day.
Baton Rouge (La.) Southern Lab athlete Chad Jones -- the No. 14 player in the nation -- will choose between LSU, Florida State and Florida on Wednesday at a press conference at his school. While Jones hasn't told anyone his destination, it's widely assumed that the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder is unlikely to leave the state.
Hempstead, Texas wide receiver Terrance Toliver doesn't hail from Louisiana. However, since he is from Eastern Texas, the Tigers could easily be as much a part of growing up as the Texas Longhorns. LSU has been Toliver's favorite for quite some time. The 6-4, 185-pounder will choose between LSU and Florida on Wednesday. He's ranked as the No. 13 player in the nation.
But the biggest name still on LSU's board is John Curtis (River Ridge, La.) running back Joe McKnight. The 6-1, 193-pounder is considered by many to be the best athlete in Louisiana in years. McKnight, ranked as the nation's second-best player, will choose between LSU and USC on Signing Day. Again, betting against the Tigers for an in-state standout is not smart.
If Miles can get signatures from Jones, Toliver and McKnight on Signing Day, LSU has a chance to unseat Florida -- the team many have already crowned this year's recruiting champion.
Wolverine upset: The word "upset" is an interesting one. On the one hand, Michigan pulled a big coup when Long Beach (Calif.) Poly cornerback Donovan Warren spurned USC to commit to Michigan last week. However, two days later Wolverines fans were not happy when WR/CB Ronald Johnson, the state of Michigan's top player, committed to USC over the Wolverines and others. Both Warren and Johnson are ranked as top-25 players nationally.

Devine intervention: North Fort Myers, Fla., running back Noel Devine -- the nation's top all-purpose back -- took his second official visit of the recruiting year last weekend to West Virginia. The 5-8, 170-pounder who has been compared to Barry Sanders enjoyed the trip to Morgantown, according to his high school coach, James Iandoli. Devine visited Alabama last weekend and has an official visit scheduled to Florida State for this weekend. Unless he decides to sign on Wednesday and end things, Devine looks like he'll extend the process into mid-February.
Still waiting on Jones: North Carolina, Tennessee and Clemson are still waiting for Cummings (Burlington, N.C.) wide receiver Dwight Jones to make his decision. One of the nation's top receivers, Jones has been committed to the Tar Heels since last February. However, once John Bunting was fired, Jones took visits to Tennessee and Clemson. Despite still being labeled as a commitment, Jones will announce his official choice on Wednesday.
Gators continue to roll: Florida continues to bring in top commitments as Signing Day approaches. The latest was Forrest (Jackonsville) linebacker Brandon Hicks, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder who chose the Gators over Miami. Last week Florida beat out Ohio State for St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale) safety Major Wright and Alabama for Lakeland (Fla.) defensive tackle John Brown. Florida is still waiting on a few more prospects, led by Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.) wide receiver Deonte Thompson.
Indiana or Florida?: It doesn't sound like a fair fight, but Indiana is trying to fight off Florida for a recruit. Warren Central (Indianapolis) safety Jerimy Finch originally committed to Michigan. However, the 6-1, 203-pounder de-committed from the Wolverines and surprisingly chose Indiana. In another twist, Finch later took an official visit to Florida and is expected to choose between the Hoosiers and Gators early this week.
Tidbits: The nation's top defensive tackle, Marvin Austin from Ballou (Washington, D.C.), will announce between North Carolina and Florida State on Wednesday. ... Alcoa, Tenn., defensive end Rae Sykes will decide between Florida State and Tennessee on Wednesday. ... Tennessee defensive tackle commitment Rolando Melancon from Lutcher, La., said he expects to sign with the Volunteers despite a late official visit to Alabama last weekend. ... Kerry Murphy from Hoover, Ala., said he will decide between Alabama and Miami on Wednesday depsite already committing to the Crimson Tide. ... McIntosh County Academy (Darien, Ga.) defensive end Allen Bailey announced Monday that he will attend Miami.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Family's Best Point Guard Succumbs to Cancer

Beau Diddly Eversmeyer has played his last game at point guard. He has dribbled his last tennis ball across the deck in Gulf Shores. Beau was looking poorly and had lost weight. He seemed to be wheezing. So when I took him to the Vet last week, it was pretty easy for her to diagnose lymphoma. A biopsy was taken and he was sent home. Since then he had a rapidly down hill course. He got to the point where he could not climb the stairs without severe shortness of breath. He suddenly went blind over the weekend and when I called the Vet today I was informed that the biopsy confirmed that he had terminal lyphoma. It seemed obvious that Beau's days were done. So I sadly took him to Chateau where he was peacefully put to sleep.

It's been a long time since this house has been without a dog, since my senior year in Medical School when we got Biscuit and so we'll miss him for a few days. His memory will fade, but still it is very sad.

Willie Morris may have written the most cherished book about dogs ever, My Dog Skip. In it he comments, "Dogs give continuity to a man’s life; they help hold the fractured pieces of it together." Right now, my world is fractured. Beau is gone. He will not be replaced. As Travis said today, Beau is now Nanna's dog, up in heaven.

Red Sox Hold Tryout for Closer Position

BOSTON -- There won't be an actual vacancy sign hanging over the Spring Training complex when pitchers and catchers report for the Red Sox on Feb. 16, but the opening is very real and won't be far from anyone's mind.
If a player or two forgets for a moment that the Red Sox don't have a designated closer yet, there will be a helpful media member or two or 10 there to remind him.
The closer competition figures to be the most pressing issue in camp for manager Terry Francona and his staff.
Gentlemen, start your side sessions. There is a job to be won.
And rest assured, the Red Sox won't be going back in time to 2003 and bring back the closer-by-committee concept.
"We don't have one person designated as the closer yet, but we certainly will by the time the season breaks," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "Tito [Francona] and [pitching coach] John Farrell have been spending a lot of time on the phone going over these guys and what ways to get the best out of everybody. We're pretty confident there will be multiple candidates who step up and throw the ball really well, and put themselves in the mix to pitch effectively for us in the closer's role."
There will be no small list of candidates. Among those in the mix will be Joel Pineiro, Julian Tavarez, Brendan Donnelly, Mike Timlin and Craig Hansen. Manny Delcarmen and Devern Hansack can at least be viewed as long-shot candidates. Only Timlin has extensive closing experience of all the contenders, and the Red Sox would much prefer to have him working the seventh and eighth innings.
Until one man is actually anointed as the closer, there is bound to be at least a little external obsession on the man who did the job so well in 2006. For it isn't as if Jonathan Papelbon has gone anywhere. He will be in camp, just in his new -- and old -- role as a starting pitcher.
In a spring in which the Red Sox look deep in the starting rotation, is there any chance Papelbon could wind up performing "last call" again?
"No, we haven't talked about that," said Papelbon. "Nothing along those lines has been discussed. In my opinion, it's pretty much an open job this spring. Like I was saying earlier, that's the one thing about Spring Training, you go in there and there's competition and it's fun competition. That's what makes your team better."
The reason the Red Sox have opted to switch courses at closer is because of the arm problems Papelbon had last September. At that time, doctors determined it would be in the best interests over the long term for Papelbon's right shoulder to pitch every fifth day.
Still, Papelbon was asked recently if he'd be stunned if he wound up closing again.

"It wouldn't surprise me a whole lot, but at the same time, we've got some good competition at that spot," said Papelbon. "There's no doubt about it. The guys we have right now as far as Hansen, Delcarmen, Pineiro and the rest of the guys. ... The competition in the bullpen is going to be stiff. That's only going to make us better."
If there is a slight favorite, it's probably Pineiro, the one-time promising starter, who was non-tendered by the Mariners and signed by the Red Sox.
"Where [Pineiro] pitches in the bullpen, where he pitches in a game ... that will be Terry's decision," said assistant general manager Jed Hoyer. "We think we signed a very good pitcher, one that will make a very good transition."
The candidate who looks most like a closer when it comes to physique is Donnelly, the righty acquired from the Angels. Donnelly is big, strong and throws hard.
"I think Donnelly can be very interesting piece of the puzzle in our bullpen," Epstein said. "He's someone who prefers to pitch in important situations, prefers to pitch later in the game. He always wants the ball. He's got a very tough, competitive makeup, which we think will be a very good fit for our situation."
Tavarez definitely has the competitive makeup to be a closer. But would he be able to produce consistent results? Tavarez was inconsistent as a setup man in '06, but the veteran righty flourished after moving into the more high-profile starting role in September.
Could that confidence carry over into this spring and make him an effective closer for the Red Sox? It is, at least, an outside possibility, considering that Tavarez converted 11 out of 14 save chances in his brief run as the Pirates closer in 2003.
The man who has often been dubbed the closer of the future for the Red Sox is Hansen. Don't look for the hard thrower out of St. John's University to win the job out of camp, but he could emerge as the main man by the All-Star break if he makes enough progress.
"They told me to be ready to compete, and that is the philosophy I will take with me into Spring Training," Hansen said. "I've been looking to get into a major spot where the team could count on me whether it would be closing, starting, setup, middle relief, long relief -- it doesn't matter."
Make no mistake about it, Farrell, Francona and bullpen coach Gary Tuck are going to have a busy Spring Training narrowing down the playing field for the closer's role.
"There's an opportunity," said Farrell. "There's a quality list of candidates to land that job. I'm sure at this time a year ago, nobody thought that Jonathan Papelbon was going to be that guy.
"I think the one thing that we have is viable candidates internally to nail down the closer's position and have the rest of the bullpen fall in line, which ideally gives everyone some understanding of their role and confidence when they walk in the clubhouse every day."

Will Kline Clear Ace of Rebels Pitching Staff

What a difference a year makes.One year ago, the Ole Miss baseball team went into the season with lots of questions on a pitching staff that had just lost its top six pitchers and was without a clear-cut ace.At that same juncture, right-hander Will Kline, then a sophomore, entered the season with lots of potential (people on the team constantly talked about how good his “stuff” was in intra-squad practices) but even more questions (a career 2-2 record and 8.15 ERA entering the 2006 season).Now, after a year in which he spent the final two months of the season as the Rebels’ top pitcher, Kline enters the 2007 baseball season, which begins Feb. 10, as the firmly established ace on a staff that is believed to be the strength of the No. 18 Rebels.“Going into this year, everything is understood and people know what their roles are unlike last year when it was a question mark of who was going to throw where and what,” Kline said.Kline proved his critics wrong in 2006 beginning with the Mayor’s Trophy Game in Jackson April 11 in which he held Mississippi State scoreless for seven innings. The right-hander’s confidence blossomed, and by the time the Rebels began their post-season run, he was the team’s ace. He then helped carry the team to its second consecutive Super Regional appearance. He finished the season with a 5-2 record and a 3.71 ERA over 68.0 innings.His was a highly-sought prospect for professional baseball and was Major League Baseball draft-eligible as a third-year sophomore but informed teams prior to the draft that he would be staying in Oxford for another season of college baseball.The Houston Astros drafted him anyway in the 39th round. Kline said thanks, but no thanks.“2006 was awesome,” Kline said, looking back. “Many good things happened to me and my family on and off the field.“The way the season ended up last year with this team struggling as we did at the start and turning it on at the end and winning the SEC Tournament. It was just a thrill.”Kline now No. 1 starterAs much as Kline grew in confidence last season, the question is how much does it help him having an entire off-season to soak it in and to enter his junior season knowing that his role is to be the team’s No. 1 starter.“It makes you a little more nervous because you know the importance of (starting the series openers on) Friday nights and being considered the ace of a staff,” Kline said. “There are a lot of great arms on this team, and I wouldn’t set myself above any of the other ones.”Pitching coach Kyle Bunn said there is a benefit to a pitcher knowing early in the off-season that he’ll likely be a weekend starter. For one, it gives Kline three weeks of practice to prepare for weekend starts before the season opener. Then it gives him potentially five starts to get things right before the Southeastern Conference opener.“Last year, he is trying to find his niche here,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “What is my role, what am I going to do and how many innings am I going to get?“This year, his mindset is different in how he’s going to win the first game and being a leader and those type of things.” Kline; who spent the summer in Oxford taking a class, working out and letting his arm rest; said he’s worked to refine his three pitches.“I’ve just tried to make the things that I already have better and just be able to locate a fastball better, sharper slider, better changeup,” Kline said.Kline, the only pitcher entering his fourth year in the program, is clearly a leader on the staff off the field too. He said he’s tried to teach the younger pitchers things he learned from guys like Mark Holliman, Matt Maloney, Anthony Cupps and Eric Fowler about how to treat the game with respect.“I think he carries a seriousness and a passion that a lot of those guys carried on the field,” Bunn said.“I also think he carries that confidence that allows him to be, some people call it goofy and some people call it funny and some people call if fun to be around. I think he gained that confidence from those guys, and it’s much easier to play this game when you’re confident.”It was also last year’s success that went a long way in helping Kline nurture that confidence.“I guess I figured things out mentally last year,” Kline said. “I was able to go out and perform the way I figured I could.“I felt like last year really pushed me over the edge and made me a more confident person and a more confident pitcher and hopefully that will benefit this team this year.”

Update on 2007 LSU Committments

2007 LSU Football Commitments
High School
Kentravis Aubrey
Toddrick Bajoie
New Roads
Joseph Barksdale
Cass Technical
D'Angelo Benton
Will Blackwell
West Monroe
West Monroe
Delvin Breaux
McDonogh 35
New Orleans
Ron Brooks
Irving, Texas
Demetrius Byrd
Pearl River (Miss.) Community College
Jordan Corbin
Lakeland, Fla.
Sidell Corley
Mobile, Ala.
Andrew Crutchfield
NW Cabarrus
Concord, N.C.
Josh Dworaczyk
New Iberia
Stefoin Francois
East St. John
T-Bob Hebert
Greater Atl. Chr.
Josh Jasper
Memphis, Tenn.
Jarvis Jones
Lamar Consolidated
Rosenberg, Texas
Phelon Jones
Mobile, Ala.
Mitch Joseph
New Iberia
Jarrett Lee
Brenham, Texas
Ernest McCoy
Belle Glade, Fla.
Drake Nevis
John Ehret
Stevan Ridley
Trinity Episcopal
Natchez, Miss.
Alex Russian
Round Rock
Round Rock, Texas
John Williams
Breaux Bridge
Breaux Bridge
D'Montrell Wilson

Two new Committments to LSU Over the Weekend

East St. John safety Stefoin Francois has committed to LSU, according to Advocate sportswriter William Weathers.
Francois (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) chose the Tigers over Florida State. He is ranking No. 63 in the Rivals 100 list and is the nation's sixth-rated safety by
Defensive end Sidell Corley of Mobile’s McGill-Toolen High said the profile of LSU’s football program had reached a new level in his hometown because of the exploits of former LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell and senior cornerback Chevis Jackson.
“In Mobile we look at LSU as almost a state school,” Corley said Sunday. “That’s what JaMarcus and Chevis have done, with them both being from here.”
In that case Corley, regarded as the nation’s fourth-best defensive end by, became the latest product of Mobile to stay “home” after the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder committed to the Tigers following a weekend visit.
“I just felt comfortable at LSU, like I was a home,” Corley said. “I just liked being around (LSU) coach (Les) Miles and the rest of the staff. They needed me, they didn’t just want me. There was a big need at the position, so that opened my eyes.
“As far as academics, they have the best support system and the best facilities for academics,” said Corley, who is academically qualified. “If you don’t graduate from LSU then you must not want to graduate.”
Corley, who previously committed to Florida, chose LSU over Tennessee, Alabama and Oklahoma. His pledge gives LSU a total of 23 commitments three days before the start of the national signing period with the Tigers still waiting on decisions from John Curtis running back Joe McKnight, Southern Lab safety Chad Jones and East St. John safety Stefoin Francois — all of whom have indicated they will make their choices public Wednesday.
Corley, who joined teammate Phelon Jones as LSU commitments, recalled vividly his first trip to LSU’s Tiger Stadium, watching the Tigers pull away and defeat Alabama 28-14 in November.
“I left with a headache,” he said, in reference to the electric crowd’s high decibel level.
It was during that period when Corley was committed to Florida, but that didn’t deter LSU’s coaches from staying in touch with Corley during the recruiting process. The Tigers staff then stepped up their efforts over the past two weeks in hopes of landing Corley’s services after learning he was no longer committed to Florida.
“They were getting more guys than they told me they were going to get,” Corley said of his reason to de-commit. “They told me they were taking four ends and another guy committed and they accepted his commitment.
“I’ve always liked LSU,” Corley said. “They respected my commitment. They were on me hard and then when I committed they eased off, but they still talked to me. Then when I de-committed they got on me hard again. Everything’s for a reason. I prayed on my decision. I feel like everything’s for a reason.”
Corley enjoyed a productive final two seasons for McGill-Toolen, which reached the third round of the Class 6A state playoffs for the first time in 2006. He has 101 tackles and 12 sacks last season after compiling 80 tackles and eight sacks as a junior.
Corley is a Rivals 100 member and is rated as the state’s third best player by that recruiting service.
“Basically they showed me where I fit into the program,” Corley said.
“A lot of schools told me that LSU was loaded (at defensive end), so I had to see for myself. I looked at the depth chart and it’s a perfect fit for me. It’s three hours from home where my parents can be at every LSU home and the atmosphere is crazy. I can’t wait to play in front of that crowd.”

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Recruiting News From Dandy Don

There is no recruiting news to report, but some news could be breaking today. Some say that Christian Scott from Dallas Skyline is scheduled to make his decision known later today, and Steffon Francois has previously said that he will make his decision known on today or Monday. Sidell Corley visited LSU this weekend and was having a great visit as of last night, according to an email I received from a person who has been in contact with his family this weekend. I like LSU's chances with Francois and Corley better than the other two, but it is not a slam dunk for Francois according to two sources I have spoken to from East ST John. As for Joe McKnight, Chad Jones and Terrance Tolliver, I believe all three will sign with LSU. All three players are not going to make their decision known until Wednesday. McKnight worked out a deal with ESPN a few weeks ago to announce his decision at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday. Terrance Tolliver will announce his decision at 12:10 Wednesday from his principal's office in Hempstead, Texas. I would love to see LSU sign all of the six players listed above, but we all know that is very unlikely. I will be dancing in the street if LSU signs McKnight, Tolliver and Jones or Francois. Maybe I should take that dancing in the street statement back because that wouldn't be pretty.

Defensive Lapse Leaves Tigers Short Again

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Offensive problems, what offensive problems?
The LSU basketball team suddenly seems to have solved the shooting and execution flaws that were so troublesome just a week ago.
But while the Tigers have plugged a few holes in the dam, their once promising season is still taking on water.
Saturday against Mississippi State, LSU shot well, beat the Bulldogs on the backboards and reduced the damaging scoring lulls to only a few.
What the Tigers couldn’t figure out was a way to cool off State’s scorching shooting touch from long distance as the Bulldogs zapped LSU with a late surge to snatch an 85-78 triumph at Humphrey Coliseum.
This loss — LSU’s fifth in a row and one that drops the Tigers (13-9, 2-6 SEC) into last place in the Western Division — didn’t come in the final seconds or slip away in the last few minutes.
Nope, the latest setback was more like a slow, painful death as State (12-9, 3-5) hammered away at the LSU defense from 3-point range until the Tigers finally crumbled.
The Bulldogs connected on 13 3-pointers, a season-high and one short of the school record. It was the most 3s allowed by LSU since early last season when West Virginia rifled in 15 on 45 attempts.
Charles Rhodes was the only State player taller than 6-foot-4 who played more than eight minutes Saturday. With four guards and Rhodes usually on the floor together, the Bulldogs didn’t bother to look for scoring inside unless they got something easy in transition.
Instead, the smaller-but-quicker MSU lineup carved LSU’s defense up one possession after another until a shooter was left open — usually wide-open — for a 3-point look.
Reginald Delk spearheaded the charge, hitting 5-of-6 bombs from outside the arc, while his twin brother Richard Delk went 3-for-5.
“We’re finding ways to hurt ourselves,” Garrett Temple said. “After not being able to score for a few games, now we’re not guarding like we can.
“It was not being focused on who we were guarding. We had four-men guarding small players and they’re not used to it. We have to communicate better and guard the 3-point line better than that.”
Despite the inability to slow the Bulldogs down from the perimeter, LSU managed to go blow-for-blow with State in a second half that featured 13 lead changes. The last Tigers lead was 62-61 on Glen Davis slam dunk with 9:18 left in the game.
LSU had a chance to nudge the lead, but Terry Martin had a 3-pointer blocked and Tasmin Mitchell’s point-blank bank shot on an inbound pass got rejected by Jamont Gordon, allowing the shot clock to expire for a turnover.
Gordon turned in a monster day with 14 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks. His gutsy drive through the lane for a bank shot gave State the lead 63-62 and ignited a decisive 14-4 siege over the ensuing 6:12.
Rhodes scored a fast-break layup, Reginald Delk converted a deflating four-point play and then drove the baseline for a short bank shot that ballooned the Bulldogs lead to 71-64 in rapid-fire fashion.
“When they hit a basket and we’re trying to come back we can’t let it break out spirits,” LSU power forward Glen Davis said. “We have to keep fighting, keep coming, keep pushing.”
The problem Saturday was the Bulldogs always seemed to have an answer when the Tigers pushed back, and it usually came from outside the 3-point arc when State’s quick guards lured an LSU defender outside and then drove to the basket.
After losing two of their last three home games to Florida and South Carolina with final-minute meltdowns, the Bulldogs made sure they held the upper hand in crunch time.
“Even though we’ve lost some games, we haven’t panicked,” said MSU coach Rick Stansbury, whose team snapped a four-game losing streak to LSU. “It’s not about the last play. It’s about making plays throughout the game somewhere, where the last play is not magnified.”
LSU shot an SEC season-best 53.4 percent (31 of 58) from the floor, anchored by a sizzling first-half effort of 61.5 percent (16 of 26). The Tigers also rolled up their highest scoring total in league play this season and out-rebounded State 36-26.
Offensively, LSU got the kind of its offensive production and balance it has lacked most of the last three weeks. Davis notched 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his 41st career double-double, Temple shook out his recent doldrums with 16 points and five assists, Terry Martin accounted for 14 points and Tasmin Mitchell added 11.
With the exception of a season-high 19 turnovers, the Tigers did enough things well to win, but still couldn’t dig up a way to prevail.
“We’ve been having a problem offensively, but we seem to have corrected that the last couple of games,” LSU coach John Brady said. “Now it’s time to work on the other end.

Rebels Log First SEC Road Win

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -Alabama native Clarence Sanders came off the bench to hit seven 3-pointers and score 21 points as Mississippi rolled to an easy 82-59 win over Auburn on Saturday.
Ole Miss (15-8, 4-5 Southeastern Conference) won its third game in its last four as the Rebels took advantage of sloppy play by the Tigers to jump to an early lead and never looked back.
Auburn (14-10, 4-5) committed 25 turnovers and allowed Ole Miss to score 31 points off of those mistakes.
Sanders from nearby Phenix City scored all of his points from long range, hitting 7-of-11 3-point shots. He came off the bench to hit four consecutive 3s midway through the first half to spark the Rebels to a 43-31 halftime lead.
Bam Doyne scored 20 for the Rebels, while Dwayne Curtis had 19 and 11 rebounds. Todd Abernathy had 14 for Ole Miss including four 3-pointers. Abernathy also had 9 assists.
The Rebels shot 52 percent overall and 54 percent on 3-point shots.
Auburn was led by Josh Dollard with 13 points, while Quantez Robertson had 12. Quan Prowell and Rasheem Barrett had 10 each for the Tigers.
Ole Miss got off to a fast start, jumping to a 9-1 lead in the first three minutes and then took advantage of 14 Auburn first half turnovers to stretch the lead to 12 at halftime.
The Tigers scored the first 8 points after intermission and cut the lead to 4 with 18:35 to play on a 3-pointer by Barrett. But that was as close as the Tigers could get to the Rebels.
Sanders came right back with a 3-pointer of his own and Ole Miss took control, stretching the lead back to 10 in the first five minutes of the second half.
Auburn cut the lead to 12 with 6:49 on a jumper and free throw shot by Robertson, but the Tigers did not score in the final five minutes and Ole Miss stretched it's lead to the final 23-point margin.
It was Auburn's worst home loss ever to Ole Miss and the second worst loss overall to the Rebels.