The LSU recruiting class is loaded from top to bottom. Which of the prized future Tigers present the best chance of making an immediate impact?
The following list represents my thoughts about which LSU Tigers’ recruits will make the fastest and most meaningful impacts of the 2021 season. Sure, it’s hypothetical. Then again, that’s what makes college football so much fun. There are simply a plethora of different scenarios to consider. It also helps LSU Country dig into the new recruit rankings that are beginning to be unveiled.
This is a fun way to celebrate the inaugural SI All-American Watch List, which details player-by-player the top 1,000 prep prospects in the country. As one of the individuals that helped to place that list together, let me tell you, it was a blast!
If you want a detailed understanding of what went into the rankings, no other list of prospects will go into the detail that this list provides. Of course, LSU prospects were well represented. All but one of LSU’s commitments made the list, and that one was punter Peyton Todd. We have yet to do specialist evaluations. Without further ado, here are the No. 16 to No. 11 prospects most likely to make an impact come the fall of 2021.
16. Garrett Nussmeier, QB, 6-foot-2, 185, Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus
A well rounded quarterback that can make throws from the pocket or on the run, Nussmeier’s talents fit well with LSU’s offensive philosophy. He’s still gaining size and strength and likely could be behind Myles Brennan, TJ Finley and Max Johnson entering his first season in Baton Rouge. Not to mention, he will continue to learn the nuances of the quarterback position. Those are all reasons that it could be a year or two before he impacts the LSU depth chart.
Simply put, quarterback often proves to be one of the most difficult positions to start right away. While exceptions do occur, LSU’s quarterback depth chart is far from bare. Despite Nussmeier’s talents, it’s a good bet that he takes a redshirt during his first season in Baton Rouge.
15. Anthony Hundley, DT, 6-foot-3, 260, Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington
A pure athlete playing along the defensive interior, Hundley is a natural one-gap defensive tackle that will blossom in LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini’s newly installed 4-3 scheme. He’s not facing the same depth chart issues that Nussmeier will face at quarterback, but defensive tackles generally need a year in the weight room to big-time contributors.
Hundley’s talents notwithstanding, he’s probably most likely to see freshman playing time as a third down pass rusher. He’s one of those rare jumbo athletes that can move well in space, split a double team, or simply shoot a gap. Look for Hundley to play, but he’s going to see stiff competition from fellow defensive tackles as well as possibly seeing a strong side defensive end move to the interior during passing downs.
14. Naquan Brown, LB/DE, 6-foot-3, 200, Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes
A unique specimen that plays defensive end and wide receiver for his high school, Brown is destined to play on the edge for the Tigers. Due to his current size, it’s a good bet that he plays some linebacker towards the beginning of his career. Further, Brown could be a player that the LSU coaching staff moves around to best take advantage of his natural athleticism.
Brown’s speed alone makes him a sure-fire special teams contributor. Few linebackers explode from their stances quite like Brown. Thus, punt team and kickoff team duties will be there from the outset. Whether or not Brown can find a home on the nickel package (pass rusher or outside linebacker are possible) or within the rotation of the regular linebackers remains to be seen. It’s not easy learning all the responsibilities of a linebacker within the spread era.
13. Keanu Koht, DE, 6-foot-5, 220, Vero Beach (Fla.) High School
As pure a rush end as there is in the country, Koht is a jet off the edge. It’s his position now, and it always will be. He was born to play the rush end position. Koht recently told me he’s holding steady at 220-pounds, and that’s where the LSU staff wants him to stay prior to enrolling. His speed, quickness and bend will be his biggest assets during his freshman season.
While other LSU defensive end commitments might end up being consistent special teams contributors, Koht’s priority will be breaking into the rotation as a pass rusher. He will certainly play on special teams as well, but he’s simply built to play in the aggressive 4-3 scheme that will be utilized in Baton Rouge.
If he learns three or four pass rush moves, Koht could legitimately be a contender for a starting position by the end of his freshman year. For that reason, look for Koht to at least earn spot duty his freshman year. Koht’s best days are ahead of him. He could be the highest drafted player from this entire list when all is said and done.
12. Zavier Carter, LB/DE, 6-foot-4, 190, Atlanta (Ga.) Hapeville Charter
Carter certainly needs to add size before becoming an every down player, but he’s such a versatile player that he’s likely to play special teams from day one, plus he’s an excellent blitzer off the edge. His blitzing could be the way he sees the field early.
Whether Carter lines up at defensive end during a dime package situation, or simply blitzes from one of several different linebacker positions, he’s as quick and athletic as any offensive lineman will see come 2021. It’s simply a matter of Carter finding a specific linebacker position he can play and understand to maximize his playing time opportunities.
11. Greg Penn III, LB, 6-foot-1, 225, Hyatsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic
One of the most natural inside linebackers in the country, Penn provides the ability to find the ball carrier like few defensive players can. He fends off blockers and takes good pursuit angles, both of which will allow him early playing time on special teams. Playing on first-and-10 is quite possible as well.
Penn’s ability to play the run will not be questioned. Especially versus run-heavy opponents like Alabama and Auburn, Penn could see plenty of action. If Penn learns the LSU defensive playbook, especially the nickel and dime packages, he could also be competing for serious playing time. Like with all other linebackers, it’s a big learning curve from high school to college.