When you look at the top of the national rankings, there are an inordinate amount of players out of the state of Louisiana. There is one five-star prospect in La'El Collins at No. 6 and there are four other prospects that are currently within striking distance of a five-star rating (Kenny Hilliard at No. 16, Jarvis Landry at No. 18, Gregory Robinson at No. 19 and Anthony Johnson at No. 33).
The lofty status of Louisiana's top five prospects may be striking to observers around the country but most within the state that follow high school football have been watching this class develop for years now. Even as freshmen, players in the class of 2011 were emerging and showing signs of becoming a special crop of talent. Led by the top state's top five, those signs have materialized in a big way.
"This year is going to be as deep of a year as any we've seen in the state in some time but what's remarkable is the level of talent at the top of the list," said Rivals.com Southeast Recruiting Analyst Barton Simmons. "To have five players that are in legitimate conversation for five-star status in a state the size of Louisiana is just phenomenal. There are probably six or seven players that would normally have a strong case for the state's top player that won't get that title at the end of the day."
A good year for talent in the state of Louisiana also equates to a good year for recruiting for LSU. The Tigers already have verbal commitments out of four of the top five players on that list and are very much involved in all of the state's top 10 prospects. Due to the state's strength, LSU's 11 commitments rival almost any other program in the country and one area that Les Miles and company have capitalized is on the offensive line.
Collins leads the offensive line class as the nation's top offensive tackle but four-stars Corey White and Trai Turner are both committed as big bodies with tremendous upside. According to Simmons, he Tigers may not be finished yet either.
"LSU is pushing really hard for Gregory Robinson and there are some out there that think he may even be the best lineman in the state," Simmons said. "They've yet to make a serious push for Ethan Hutson but if that push did come late and they were to add both of those in-state guys to their class, that'd be a hard offensive line class for anyone in the country to top."
As a regular threat to LSU's in-state dominance, Alabama has once again jumped into the state to land an elite prospect in speedster wide receiver Bradley Sylve, the state's No. 9 prospect. However, the next three schools to make an appearance in the top 40 aside from LSU and Alabama are a few less common names.
Kansas State landed a verbal from the state's No. 18 prospect in Daniel Sams, Mississippi State has committed the No. 19 prospect in Devante Scott and Louisiana-Monroe makes a big splash landing the commitment of Rayville defender Gerrand Johnson at No. 21. Johnson chose the hometown program over offers from the likes of Arkansas, Ole Miss and Missouri.
Even with the star-power that the initial release of the Louisiana Top 40 possesses, Simmons says that it could get even more.
"It's scary that even more prospects in the state of Louisiana are emerging," Simmons said. "Floyd Raven out of East St. John is probably a sure-fire four-star kid but we didn't get an evaluation on him until after the position rankings were already out so he'll be out of the initial state list.
"There are several other guys that could possibly be higher too with some new evaluation opportunities like Jevante Watson or possibly Paul Turner and Demarcus Hodge. It's just going to be a fun state to follow throughout the year."