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Thursday, February 05, 2009

The curious case of DeAngelo Benton

BATON ROUGE - Apparently, DeAngelo Benton is really a good wide receiver. So much so that the father of Rueben Randle, who is considered the No. 1 high school wide receiver in the nation today, perhaps does not want his son to have to compete with Benton.

Or perhaps Randle is not that good after all? We shall see.

Emmett Randle seemed wary of Benton on a Monroe radio show Tuesday and has been telling others that for a few days - ever since he learned from a Gannett story last week that LSU was still interested in signing Benton and Benton was still interested in being a Tiger. Benton, the No. 7 receiver in the nation when he was still at Bastrop in 2006-07, visited LSU just last weekend.

According to folks in Bastrop, where both kids played high school ball, LSU on Tuesday night took back a scholarship offer to Benton that had been on the table for the last three years. Benton then signed at Auburn.

Gosh, I hope the elder Randle does not have a problem with his son being a teammate of Brandon LaFell or Terrance Toliver or any of the other receivers at LSU. If so, the Tigers may have to use a one-wide receiver offense last season. If Randle is so good, does it matter what other receivers LSU has or will have. JaMarcus Russell didn't care that LSU was recruiting two other quarterbacks and had a few others on campus when he signed in 2003.

Randle better be good because LSU suddenly does not have a lot of depth at the position. After Randle's signing Wednesday, the Tigers lost two other receivers they were recruiting in addition to Benton. Those were No. 40-ranked Kenny Bell (an LSU commitment) of Rayville and No. 26 Kendall Kelly of Gadsden, Ala., both to Alabama.

Had Randle chosen Alabama over LSU, it is conceivable that Bell and Kelly would have ended up at LSU along with Benton. So, in essence the Tigers got a No. 1 (Randle) for a former No. 7 (Benton), a No. 26 and a No. 40.

Alabama gave up Randle but got two in return. Auburn gave up nothing and got Benton. So doesn't Auburn owe LSU a player to be named later? Or perhaps some cash? Just kidding.

LSU coach Les Miles should not be vilified that much for this move as he has been in some circles. He did let Benton down, but Benton let LSU down twice. After failing to qualify academically for the 2007 school year after signing with LSU the previous February, Benton went to Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., which is a haven for elite football players who do not make the grades. He left after football season, hurting the plan to get eligible for 2008. He spent the summer working out at LSU and "getting eligible," but he didn't make it again.

Now, LSU did keep recruiting Benton right up until Mr. Randle made his radio show comments. LSU hosted Benton just last weekend. If signing Randle meant letting Benton go - and it appears that is exactly what happened - then Miles did the right thing. Benton is damaged goods. He could end up being great, but he is a risk. He's a free agent who hasn't played in more than a year.

Randle is indeed a first round draft choice and the better choice, even though Benton may be a better receiver than Randle right now. And recruiting is so much about perception. Had Miles not signed Randle, that would have been two huge prospects from the state of Louisiana that he would have lost in three signing days. Joe McKnight of Curtis in New Orleans left LSU for USC two years ago. And Randle would have gone to Alabama. Egad!

So, Miles made the right move. The scary thing is how much power a parent can wield in recruiting.

SOMETHING TO LOOK FOR: LSU recruiting coordinator Josh Henson could be leaving on the highest of notes. The Tigers' No. 1 recruiting class signed Wednesday - the first in Miles' career - could be Henson's swan song. Henson has virtually been the only name linked in recent weeks to the assistant coaching opening at Missouri. That move could be finalized very soon.

Missouri offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Dave Christensen took the Wyoming head coaching job after last season, and Missouri quarterbacks coach David Yost was elevated to offensive coordinator and retained quarterbacks duty. Missouri has been lacking an offensive line coach.

Henson, 33, is a former Oklahoma State offensive lineman and has been LSU's recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach since Miles came to LSU in 2005. He was Oklahoma State's recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach from 2001-04 under Miles. Henson is ready for a change as recruiting coordinator is usually an entry level position.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Benton did not help himself when he visited Auburn recently, but that does not make the situation smell any better. Kendall Kelly never committed to LSU, so Randle signing w/ LSU is not cause and effect of Kelly signing w/ AL.

Kelly and Kenny Bell probably signed w/ AL because they think they will play earlier and more than at LSU. LSU's WRs may have a better year if Jefferson and/or Shepard are more consistent than Lee was last season.

5:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jackson will not be the last LA kid that Orgeron lures away from LSU. Maybe he and the Kiffins will be gone from TN if the Vols finish no better than 3rd place in the East in the next two years.

6:45 PM  

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