3 Recruiting Q&As: LSU, Rutgers, So Miss

Posted Jan 21, 2014

3 Recruiting Q&As with Scout's LSU, Rutgers and Southern Miss publishers

3 Recruiting Questions With Scout Publishers
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For more, go to ScarletReport.com

1) Does the move to the Big Ten matter to recruits? Is that the main selling point?

Sam Hellman, ScarletReport.com - It matters a big deal to recruits, especially at the local level. Kids from New Jersey can finally stay home and play a big-time schedule at the same time. You'll see the Big Ten start to matter a lot more when recruits actually see it for themselves. Hearing about it is one thing, but seeing Penn State and Michigan play at Rutgers next year is when it will truly sink in. For the Rutgers coaches, the Big Ten is a major selling point, but not necessarily the main one. Rutgers has always sold itself with a family approach to college football and the educational and marketing opportunities so close to New York.

2) Is the coaching staff able to keep most of the key in-state recruits or does the move to the Big Ten make it easier for the Penn States and Ohio States of the league to go after New Jersey players?

Not consistently. There are years where Rutgers dominates locally - see 2011 - and there are years like this one where there are struggles. Penn State and Ohio State are hitting New Jersey hard, and that's only going to get more aggressive with Rutgers now a direct competitor in the Big Ten. It wasn't long ago that Rutgers was in direct competition with schools like Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Boston College for key in-state kids. Battles now with Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan show the progress of the program.

3) What's the No. 1 need the program needs to address with this recruiting class?

Whether it's in 2014 or 2015, Rutgers needs to find a Big Ten quarterback around which to build the offense. Rutgers lost Beverly Hills (Mich.) Detroit Country Day quarterback Tyler Wiegers to Iowa, and has no one in its current 2014 class. Rutgers fell on hard times this season because of a lack of established depth at quarterback, and that cannot happen again. Rising redshirt freshman Chris Laviano may be a long-term answer at quarterback for the Scarlet Knights, but this program needs more options to truly take the next step.

Southern Miss
For more, go to GoldenEaglePride.com

1) Is the coaching staff able to positively spin the problems of the last few years?

Drew White, GoldenEaglePride.com - The Southern Miss coaching staff is doing a great job of selling the big picture of the USM program. As head coach Todd Monken recently said, "Alabama has lost the last two games, and no one is going to say they are not a good team. Southern Miss has had 18 winning seasons out of the past 20. This is a winning program." Coach Monken's staff has brought energy, enthusiasm, and a daily positive attitude and it is carrying over in recruiting. Prospects know they can play early and be a part of something special as this program rebuilds. The staff is selling the winning tradition, excellent academic record, current Golden Eagles in the NFL, and the chance to put a very proud program back on top.

2) How quickly can this be turned around? Can one good recruiting class do it?

One of the big issues this season for Southern Miss was lack of depth, so this runs a little bit deeper than one recruiting class. Bringing in immediate help along the offensive line from the JUCO ranks will be vital, and there are a few more they hope to ink in key positions that can provide an instant boost. This is going to take time, but this staff is recruiting well - true freshmen started all over the field this season - and they are a few impact players away from getting back to a winning season. The good news is the young players grew up quickly last season, and the growing pains were difficult but beneficial down the line. The Eagles are about 2 recruiting classes away from being back to the level of talent we are used to seeing in Hattiesburg.

3) What's the No. 1 need the program needs to address with this recruiting class?

Southern Miss has addressed the number one need along the offensive line in bringing in two impact JUCO linemen who have already signed. That's a good start. There are still needs at Linebacker, where the Eagles were razor thin, and they are hoping another impact JUCO prospect can sign and help right away. A position of strength last season, running back, has become a big need now because of graduation and players removed from the team. Right now there are only two running backs, so signing a few more are critical. The Eagles would also love to continue to bolster the offensive and defensive lines with depth and more speed on offense. Guys who can make plays in space are coveted in Monken's offense.

For more, go to TigerSportsDigest.com

1. Is it seen overall as a positive to get recruits good enough to leave early -- come to LSU, go to the NFL? Or, is the coaching staff recruiting players with one eye already on the NFL?

Ben Love, TigerSportsDigest.com - Yes, and yes. Contrary to whatever the national perception may be, LSU's talented underclassmen aren't jumping ship to get away from Les Miles, Baton Rouge or the Tiger program. They're actually making good on recruiting promises sold by Miles and the LSU staff, which absolutely seeks out prospects with NFL aspirations, illuminates for them a direct path to the field and proudly shows off the track record of players who've made their ways to NFL jobs and fortunes via three years on the bayou. Now, has the line been blurred a bit and have certain players who maybe weren't ready left early in recent years? Absolutely, but that's due to a culture the program itself has willingly created and, it would seem, is willing to tolerate. The solution, after all, has been easy enough: Go out and get the next blue-chipper who wants to play in the League. Time will tell if this strategy takes a long-term negative toll on the program, but for the time being it's one of LSU's best recruiting pitches going.

2. Is Les Miles having to fight more to keep in-state talent, or is he still able to put a fence around the Louisiana?

The 2014 recruiting class has solidified the fact that the fence isn't quite as secure as it used to be around the state. That hasn't exactly been breaking news over the last half-decade when it comes to elite prospects in North Louisiana, where LSU has split with Nick Saban at Alabama on targets from prep powerhouses like West Monroe, Evangel, Neville and Bastrop. Where 2014 did expose some new holes in the dam was in New Orleans, where Edna Karr products Gerald Willis and Speedy Noil have opted to head out-of-state. That constitutes a very new development for LSU under recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson, who had blanketed talent-rich NOLA in recent years. LSU still gets a majority of the players it wants in-state, but there's no question Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M are starting to give Miles & Co. a legit run for their money in Louisiana.

3. What's the No. 1 need the program needs to address with this recruiting class?

There are several correct answers here, which isn't to signify that LSU lacks starting-level players for 2014, but that it needs to begin building depth in a lot of areas where underclassmen have recently turned pro. The most correct answer, though, is probably running back. The Tigers didn't take a back for two straight classes - yes, Jeremy Hill technically signed in 2012, but he was originally a 2011 guy - with the intent of trying to land Leonard Fournette and rope off as many carries and as much time for him as possible. Well, mission accomplished. The Tigers have secured a commitment from Fournette, the nation's No. 1 overall player, and can now groom him to be the workhorse of the future with only Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard, both seniors, remaining in the backfield heading into 2014. LSU also has a second RB commitment in physical back Darrel Williams. It was essential the Tigers, which love to run the football under Miles, restocked at the position, and they have.