LSU has positioned itself with one of the best offensive skill position classes in the country. Heading into the month of June with all the official visits that will happen, it’s important to remember the recruits already on the LSU commitment list.
LSU’s 2022 recruiting class is truly loaded. The Tigers are assembling one of the best classes nationally, and the mainstay within the class would be offensive skill position talent. Even better, the Tigers assembled a skill position group that fits well together at all three wide receiver positions, a fantastic flex tight end, and a quarterback that’s a fit for LSU’s offense.
To date, the Tigers have placed together as good an offensive skill group as any college program in the country. Here’s a closer look at the prospects committed to the purple and gold that make plays with the football, beginning with the quarterback.
Walker Howard, QB, 6’1”, 195-pounds, Lafayette (La.) St. Thomas Moore
After throwing for 3,420 yards and 42 touchdowns along the way to winning a state championship as a junior, Howard’s name was synonymous with some of the top quarterback recruits across the country. He earned it.
Walker’s pocket presence, poise, accuracy, and ability to move the pocket before making a throw proved to be very good during his junior season. There’s one additional category that Walker should be considered more than just very good.
This right handed signal caller throws the football well moving to his left because he displayed good hip flexibility that allowed him to swivel around his hips enough to throw accurate passes on the run. That’s a truly big-time skill. Howard is a big-time player and one that has a chance to be a really special player for LSU.
Jake Johnson, TE, 6’5”, 220-pounds, Watkinsville (Ga.) Ocoee County
For a spread offense, Johnson fits the mold of what an offensive coordinator desires for a flex tight end. Johnson can line up in the slot, out wide, or as an H-back and be a critical part of a college offense.
Johnson’s fluidity is what stands out most and allows him to line up in various positions. He’s as smooth a route runner as most players weigh 50 pounds less than him. That would be why he defeats cornerbacks and safeties during one-on-one situations. Especially near the red zone, Johnson’s fluid running motion takes over during many plays.
Johnson will sink his hips and turn to quickly disengage from a defensive back, or he can run stop-and-start routes like a quick running back. With all of Johnson’s natural size to go along with his ability to run, he’s one of the best flex tight end recruits in the country.
AJ Johnson, WR, 6’4”, 205-pounds, New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman
LSU’s spread offense needs a big-bodied wide receiver that makes contested catches down the field. Johnson is the guy to make those plays, and he does make contested catches and big plays for three prime reasons.
Johnson’s ability to utilize strong hands after contact is his biggest reason for being a downfield playmaker. It’s uncanny how well Johnson makes plays with a defender draped on him or when he’s diving and hitting the ground and still makes the catch. His quickness also provides a different level of play for a boundary wide receiver.
Most bigger, physical wide receivers are not known for their moves after the catch. Johnson is not like most big wide receivers. He can shake a defensive back after the catch or make quick cuts during his route to separate from the defender and make a catch. Finally, physicality proved to be an asset.
Whether it is that jump ball with a defensive back, beating press coverage, or getting yards after catching the football, Johnson brings a physical nature to the gridiron. He is an ideal candidate to play LSU’s boundary wide receiver.
Aaron Anderson, WR, 5’10”, 190-pounds, New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr
Explosive! That’s the quickest way to define Anderson. His stop-and-start burst and his ability to fake out a defender is truly elite. He’s the slot wide receiver that takes a five-yard out route and turns it into a 70yard score. Anderson is a unique wide receiver.
LSU could line up Anderson at slot, no question. He’s also capable of playing to the wide side of the formation and utilizing those same skills against top-notch cornerbacks and still making plays. He’s not just an open-field runner, but a savvy wide receiver with explosive athleticism. Long term, LSU will likely move Anderson around to keep defenses guessing and be a vital part of the LSU offense. He has one more key attribute.
Anderson is as good a kick and punt returner as there is in the country. He’s absolutely electric during punt returns in particular. When a college team scores a special teams touchdown, it’s chances of winning that game go up tremendously. Anderson will have a few of those punt returns moments in Death Valley.
Decoldest Crawford, WR, 6’1”, 180-pounds, Shreveport (La.) Green Oaks
Crawford is an all-around wide receiver. His catch concentration is tremendous when attempting to catch an over-the-shoulder pass, he makes catches in traffic in the middle of the field, and he’s good off the line of scrimmage to beat press coverage with quick hands and feet.
Therefore, it’s hard to pin one specific wide receiver for Crawford. The most likely scenario has LSU once again moving a talented wide receiver to different positions. Crawford may very well begin his LSU career out wide to the strong side of the formation to take advantage of his playmaking abilities, but his football IQ and natural size and athleticism make him a candidate to play any of the three wide receiver positions.
When placing Crawford in the slot he’s going to be too quick for most safeties that line up over him, or quick and strong for many nickel cornerbacks. Out wide he will receive the most challenges from a talented cornerback, but Crawford’s route-running acumen and concentration will still allow him to be a playmaker there as well. Even as a boundary wide receiver, Crawford could be a playmaker for the same reasons as out wide to the strong side of the formation. Bottom line, Crawford is a talented wide receiver that makes plays.
LSU is heading into a critical stretch in recruiting with numerous official visits with talented recruits about to come to Baton Rouge. Before that happens, Tiger fans should know that what’s already onboard the commitment list is truly special. That high level talent starts with the offensive skill talent, and it’s truly big-time talent.
If the Tigers can bring in an offensive line class that even remotely resembles the skill position talent, this will be one of LSU’s best offensive classes in recent memory, which would be a major step in the right direction for the LSU football program.