Regional notebook: Mid-Atlantic, Texas prospects shine at LSU's elite camp
LSU's annual elite prospect camp attracted prospects from all over the country on one campus.
Prospects from Florida, across the DMV, California, Colorado, Georgia and of course, Texas and Louisiana, showed up in Baton Rouge and put their talents to the test against some of the best competition in the country. Here are some thoughts from the sidelines.
Future five-star QB on the way?
Day 1 of the LSU camp put a pair of 2022 quarterbacks in the spotlight: Tennessee's Ty Simpson and Louisiana's Walker Howard. Both were phenomenal, which ultimately led to Howard, an LSU legacy, leaving with an offer.
Simpson had a strong arm and incredible accuracy and made a handful of "wow" throws with some zip. He did his best work leading receivers downfield even when they were tightly covered. Howard also flashed good accuracy and threw some great balls while on the run and in the pocket. He was very calm and poised throughout the camp and has a smooth delivery.
Rivals250 quarterback and LSU commitment Max Johnson returned to Baton Rouge, where he's camped the past few summers. Johnson has the size and arm and did his best work throwing inside the hashes. He stands tall in the pocket and has great ball placement. He also threw great go-routes. Johnson's only struggles came throwing outside the numbers, where at times he was off-the-mark.
Caleb Williams made the trek in from D.C. and put on a clinic. There isn't a knock on the 2021 passer, who threw with zip and accuracy and made every throw. Williams' touch was probably his best trait and he was able to deliver throws where only the receivers could make a grab. Williams debuted as a 6.0 four-star in the 2021 Rivals100 but could have a fifth star in his future.
Four-star 2021 quarterback Jake Rubley was also impressive. He was calm and cool and consistent throughout the day on Saturday. He has ideal size and threw well inside and outside the numbers. Rubley is an efficient, well-rounded passer.
Marcus (Texas) Flower Mound quarterback Garrett Nussmeier threw for the staff on Saturday and continued to show off arguably the best arm in Texas. Nussmeier has incredible arm strength and makes difficult throws downfield with ease. He is immensely accurate and can sling it all over the field. What stands out his ability to anticipate his receivers' routes. He's smooth with a cannon for a right arm and can chuck it across the yard, but he's perfectly content throwing the check-down when need be.
Louisiana's 2021 WR corps taking shape
2021 Rummel quarterback Kyle Wickersham threw for the staff to get a closer look at Moore, who ran routes out of the slot. Moore is a fantastic route-runner who's explosive in and out of his breaks. He also has a tremendous catch radius and body control to make difficult grabs on a routine basis.
Boutte came to play on Friday and was arguably the top pass-catcher on campus. His 4.3 speed was evident as he easily separated from the elite defensive backs. He was unguardable on go-routes and made a handful of impressive grabs over the middle. He plays with a lot of twitch but needs to be more consistent on the receiving end.
Brown emerged as one of the best receivers regardless of class during Thursday's session. He's long (6-foot-3) and runs up and down the field like a gazelle, not to mention his ability to get vertical. He flaunted off his ability to run the entire route tree and make contested grabs in traffic over the middle. He's due for a major rise in the next rankings update.
Pazon is one of the top playmakers on one of the state's most potent offenses and did his best work running vertical routes at LSU. Pazon has impressive speed and made some difficult grabs as an outside receiver. He needs to be more consistent on the receiving end.
At 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, Thomas showed off his ability to move well for his size. He did his best work reeling in catches in the middle of the field as a possession receiver.
2022 St. James (La.) receiver Shazz Preston is still a young receiver with room to grow, but did enough during Friday's workout to leave Baton Rouge with an offer. Preston has excellent hands and makes absurd catches, especially in the red-zone. He's still fine-tuning his route-running and explosiveness out of his breaks, but there's plenty to like already in Preston's game.
One of the best-kept secrets in Louisiana is 2020 three-star Errol Rogers. He has yet to land Power 5 offers, but the Lafayette Christian receiver was a mismatch at camp. He's twitchy, smooth and gave even the best defensive backs headaches. He's a fantastic slot receiver with great speed and even better route-running, which allowed him to break away from defenders easily. He's also caught everything thrown his direction.
Rounding up the TE group
Jake Johnson, the younger brother of LSU quarterback commitment Max Johnson, was a tight end who worked out with the elite group of receivers during Friday morning’s session. Johnson was especially agile and flashed great quickness running routes and was among the top pass-catchers at the camp regardless of position. LSU offered the younger Johnson, who has soft hands and troubled defensive backs regularly.
2020 Legacy (Texas) tight end Reggie Brown was excellent during Thursday's session. While he doesn't possess great speed, he makes up for it with fantastic route-running. He has an effective head fake and easily separates from safeties and linebackers in coverage. Again, he isn't a speedy tight end, but he can make catches down the seam and over the middle.
Trent McGaughey is an SEC name to know for the 2022 crop in Texas. The Shadow Creek is an enormous tight end entering his sophomore campaign. He runs the field well and has soft hands and made some contested grabs.
2021 big men show out
When it's all said and done, Jaedon Roberts may be the best guard in America in 2021. A Kansas transplant now at Houston powerhouse North Shore, Roberts played right tackle at LSU camp. He has the size and strength and moves very well for a big man. He's an option for teams either at right tackle or inside at guard.
His new teammate, Edzavier Deblaw, left Baton Rouge with his first offer from LSU. Deblaw is a bit raw with natural power, and if he engages his hands it's a mismatch. Deblaw has a great initial first step and effectively slowed down some of the best interior defensive linemen.
Tristan Leigh was the best offensive tackle on campus. He flashed quick feet and a great kick-step, but more importantly great agility and an aggressive punch in pass pro.
Navigating through the DL
Tygee Hill brings a big game for a 2022 defensive tackle. The young interior lineman holds early offers from Alabama, Georgia and Miami, and was disruptive at camp. He won the majority of his 1-on-1s, showing off a swim move, a lethal studder and rip technique with excellent quickness for his size.
Sticking with the 2022 class, Shone Washington has the size and the power to make some noise. He's got great burst off the ball and overpowered opposing offensive linemen. He took advantage of his long reach to manhandle the competition, and there's still room to grow.
Mississipi defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson, a member of the Rivals250 for 2020 and one-time five-star, camped on Thursday and was the top big man in attendance. Jackson plays with a high motor, showing off a good swim and spin move, but was not overly dominant. There's still room for improvement, but at his best is very effective.
One defensive tackle that was very consistent was John Curtis' (La.) Ellinus Noel. Noel reports a Southern offer and more are on the way. He was fast off the ball and his swim move caused issues. He'll need to continue to add strength and work on his ability to turn the corner, but Noel provided a great interior rush for much of the day.
California three-star Jordan Berry was an early LSU pledge and he returned to campus for camp. He's a bit undersized and lacked the strength you'd expect for an SEC defensive tackle.
Two Texas linebackers show out
Texarkana (Texas) four-star outside linebacker Clayton Smith worked out as a defensive end in camp and flaunted a fantastic initial step. He's long, explosive and has an impressive wingspan. He's still on the thin side and may be best geared to rush from a stand-up position and he'll be a force as he continues to add strength to his game. There's a lot to like about Smith's game entering a pivotal junior year.
Four-star 2021 Duncanville (Texas) inside linebacker Kendrick Blackshire made the trek from Tuscaloosa to LSU for the final day of the elite camp. On Tape, Blackshire is a dynamic run-stuffer with a 6-foot-2, 260-pound frame built for blasting running backs in the SEC. In coverage, Blackshire surprised with a really fluid drop-back in coverage.
Sorting through a talented secondary
Rivals250 cornerback Major Burns out of Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep turned in his best performance to date on Friday, battling elite wide receivers and dominating throughout the session. Burns (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) was physical at the point of attack but relied on his smooth drop-back and quickness to break up passes in 1-on-1s. Burns was proficient and didn’t miss a beat. He’s further along than Greedy Williams was at this point in his development and will be a sight to watch when he matches up with the bigger receivers in the SEC.
California five-star cornerback Elias Ricks has put his main focus on academics this spring, so he’s been unable to compete at a majority of the camps. However, Ricks was at LSU and made his presence felt. Ricks, at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, is physically imposing, especially with monstrous arms that are pivotal to his game. Ricks is able to quickly adjust to routes and doesn’t lose a step against big-framed wide receivers. Once the balls in the air, it’s Ricks’ to lose. He was on fire throughout the camp and came away with an interception in a showdown with 2021 Rivals100 receiver Brian Thomas.
Rivals250 cornerback Lorando Johnson spent the bulk of the time in the nickel safety role, where he’ll transition to when he arrives at LSU. At times, Johnson lost a step or two on receivers but has incredible make-up speed and short-area quickness to break on the ball. Johnson does is best when he jams at the point of attack and disrupts the receivers’ routes. He’s extremely physical and his size is a major part of his game in coverage.
Arkansas commitment Jamie Vance has found a home playing in the slot. Vance has always been long but has improved his ability to battle in coverage without being overly physical. On Friday against elite competition, he was sharp on his turns in coverage and got vertical to contest balls in the air. One of the highlights of the day was his speed-turn and break-up on a perfectly thrown ball from Caleb Williams over the middle.
Denver Harris has torn up camp season so far. He clocked a 4.39-second 40 time at Alabama and didn’t give the quarterbacks at LSU a chance to throw his direction. Harris, a 2022 cornerback from North Shore, measures up at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds entering his sophomore season. He’s adept at derailing receivers at the line of scrimmage and shadowing them downfield. He’s a smooth, natural cover cornerback that can lock down a No. 1 wide receiver. He’s a surefire bet as one of the best cornerbacks in the country for 2022.