Tre'Davious White and his mother, LaShawnita Ruffins, smile after he signed a letter of intent to attend LSU and play football. (www.shreveporttimes.com / Associated Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 06, 2013 8:01 PM
BATON ROUGE — Maybe LSU just has an aversion to the color, but it didn’t sound like head coach Les Miles will be using many redshirts for the latest incoming football class.
Miles beamed about his latest 27 signees Wednesday at the end of a hectic recruiting season, and didn’t exactly beg for a couple of years before evaluating them.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them come in here and play early and maybe start,” said Miles, who a month ago lost 10 juniors who declared early for the NFL draft.
“I would say that this is as strong of a class as we have signed,” Miles said, pointing out that a veteran LSU team played 15 true freshmen last season. “It’s the style of class that will put us in great position as we go forward.”
“That (early play) is a trend that will continue here. You have to bring in a style of athlete that can come in and compete very quickly.”
ESPN ranked the Tigers’ class No. 7 in the country, while two other major recruiting services — Scout and Rivals — had LSU No. 5.
That was fourth in the Southeastern Conference in ESPN’s rankings behind No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida, while Ole Miss was the talk of national signing day with a strong finish that gave the Rebels the network’s No. 5-rated class.
LSU’s class included two local players — tight end Desean Smith of Barbe High and linebacker Melvin Jones of Washington-Marion High.
Miles mentioned Smith as one of the new Tigers who might see early playing time.
“Very skilled, pass-catching tight end,” Miles said of Smith. “He’s going to be an immediate impact guy who can catch the ball and give us a real weapon at that spot.”
LSU had held out hope that a late push might land the nation’s consensus No. 1 prospect, but that suspense was killed early in the day when defensive end Robert Nkemdich of signed with Ole Miss.
Otherwise, there were no surprises for the Tigers, and the class got a boost when it unexpectedly — to some — got highly touted defensive end Tawshawn Bower of Somerville, N.J., who was listed as an Auburn commitment by most services going into the day.
“I always had a very strong feeling that he would be a Tiger,” Miles said. “I always felt he’d get around to us … I think he’ll be a great addition.
“There are some things that happen in recruiting that are best left unsaid. He ran into an awkward situation that made him step back and review it again. Ultimately it helped him make the decision.
“That kind of defensive end is exactly what we needed. I don’t know if I would feel as good about this class if we hadn’t gotten Bower.”
With LSU losing its top four defensives ends from last year, Bower was one of four at the position the Tigers signed in a class that included two defensive tackles and five offensive linemen.
“We were looking for a big-man class and we matched that with excellent skill positions,” Miles said.
There was no suspense with almost one-third of the class — eight of them enrolled at LSU in January and will take part in spring practice, which should help them contribute early, Miles said.
Among them were both of the new quarterbacks, dual threat Anthony Jennings of Marietta, Ga., and Hayden Rettig of Los Angeles.
Noticeably missing — by design, Miles said — was a running back, even though both Spencer Ware and Michael Ford were among the juniors who left early.
“I like where we’re at tailback,” Miles said. “We have a number of them. We’ll have to recruit a great one next year.”
WR, John Diarse, 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, West Monroe High School (Monroe)
*OL, Fehoko Fanaika, 6-6, 340, Florin High School (Sacramento, Calif.)
QB, Anthony Jennings, 6-2, 205, Marietta High School (Marietta, Ga.)
WR, Avery Johnson, 6-1, 180, Ely High School (Pompano Beach, Fla.)
DT, Christian LaCouture, 6-5, 290, Lincoln Southwest High School (Lincoln, Neb.)
OL, Ehtan Pocic, 6-7, 287, Lemont High School (Lemont, Ill.)
QB, Hayden Rettig, 6-2, 201, Cathedral High School (Los Angeles)
**TE, Logan Stokes, 6-5, 253, Muscle Shoals High School (Muscle Shoals, Ala.)
LB, Duke Riley, 6-1, 205, John Curtis (New Orleans)
DE, Lewis Neal, 6-1, 234, James B. Hunt High School (Wilson, N.C.)
OL, K.J. Malone, 6-3, 307, Cedar Creek High School (Ruston)
DE, Frank Herron, 6-5, 245, Memphis Central High School (Memphis, Tenn.)
TE, DeSean Smith, 6-4, 226, Barbe High School (Lake Charles)
DT, Greg Gilmore, 6-4, 275, South View High School (Hope Mills, N.C.)
OL, Andy Dodd, 6-3, 330, Pepperell High School (Lindale, Ga.)
OL, Josh Boutte, 6-4, 324, Westgate High School (New Iberia)
***WR, Quantavius Leslie, 6-4, 190, Callaway High School (Hogansville, Ga.)
LB, Melvin Jones, 6-3, 245, Washington-Marion High School (Lake Charles)
WR, Kevin Spear, 6-3, 190, Holy Cross High School (New Orleans)
ATH, Jeryl Brazil, 5-9, 181, Loranger High School (Loranger)
DE, M.J. Patterson, 6-2, 218, Winnfield High School (Winnfield)
DB, Rickey Jefferson, 5-10, 187, Destrehan High School (Destrehan)
LB, Kendell Beckwith, 6-3, 225, East Feliciana High School (Jackson)
DB, Tre'Davious White, 5-10, 170, Green Oaks High School (Shreveport)
DB, Rashard Robinson, 6-1, 163, Ely High School (Pompano Beach, Fla.)
DE, Tashawn Bower, 6-5, 241, Immaculata High School (Somerville, N.J.)
DT, Maquedius Bain, 6-5, 286, Univ. School of Nova Southeastern (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
KEY: * -- transfer from College of San Mateo, ** -- transfer from Northeast Mississippi Community College, *** -- transfer from Hinds Community College