BY LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
“When plays start, I flip a switch and go full speed 'til the whistle blows,” said Leigh. “I like to play really physical. In football, if you’re really physical when you go at someone, 75% of the time, they won’t want to play with you anymore.”
- TRISTAN LEIGH, January 2020
LSU's 2021 class looks fantastic, sporting the 5th rated class in the country, headlined by Infini-star linebacking sensation Raesjon Davis, Clarkston High's offensive tackle Garrett Dellinger and out of Flower Mound, Texas Quarterback Garrett Nussmeier; elsewhere, Christian LaCoutoure's impact upon the recruiting staff has been huge, bringing in one of the most complete high school defensive ends Saivion Jones, very talented edge rushing hybrids Naquan Brown, Keanu Koht and Zavier Carter, Texas superstar Landon Jackson and IMG's interior DT Anthony Hundley.
LSU has a great start at wide receiver in Deion Smith (the #1 ranked player in all of Mississippi and the first wide out to commit to Mickey Joseph), Jo Jo Earle (our "Early Doucet / Percy Harvin" blitz eliminator) and Zachary High's Chris Hilton, who's been hailed as the "next Justin Jefferson" (but we like to call him "The FIRST Chris Hilton")...yet Mickey Joseph, Scott Linehan, Carter Sheridan, Assistant Director of Player Personnel Collin D'angelo and the rest of our staff must now must push all the chips towards the middle of the table for Walker High's Brian Thomas, definitively the best receiver of the 2021 class and one of the best overall players.
At Running Back, Kevin Faulk secured the commitment of high octane Ohio running back Corey Kiner (a kid who scored 40 touchdowns and rushed for 2,298 yards as a junior and even ran for 1,000+ yards and grabbed 15 TDs as a freshman!!!!), yet when considering the future, there's one area of the field where LSU needs talent at most:
The offensive line.
Following a summer in which Alabama shored up their line with both Brockermeyer Brothers and highly coveted O-lineman J.C Latham, LSU cannot afford to lose a proven O-line warrior such as Tristan Leigh.
Out of Robinson Secondary High in Fairfax, Virginia, Tristan Leigh is LSU's highest 2021 priority outside of WR Brian Thomas, such is his inherent necessity upon James Cregg's Joe Moore Award-winning / NFL Draft pick-capturing offensive line.
Leigh has been highly sought by Clemson, Penn State and Oklahoma, yet he has a clearer path to the field as an LSU Tiger and in James Cregg, Tristan would have a far better teacher to develop and harness the strength of his NFL-ready skills.
At LSU, Tristan would be practicing against the best defensive linemen and edge rushers in the country, as well as needing to learn complex NFL protection schemes (readying him for the NFL at a far quicker clip), formations which won James Cregg a Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers' historic 2015 defense and propelled the greatest collegiate offensive juggernaut of all time to an undefeated season last year, with a "no star" starting center (Lloyd Cushenberry), a junior college transfer at guard (Damien Lewis), a pair of back-ups stepping in for critical minutes (Ed Ingram & Adrian McGee), and a hardly used left tackle (Shaadiq Charles) all becoming high NFL Draft picks in no small part due to Cregg's encouragement and coaching.
As the 11th rated player in the country, 1st ranked out of Virginia and 3rd rated O-lineman in the country, there's no question the competition for Leigh's signature will become more intense by the day.
If James Cregg is to sign Tristan Leigh, joining LSU's hard commit Garrett Dellinger in the same class, the offensive line's future ceiling will be in safe hands with both bookend linemen solidified for the next 3 seasons or more.
Another factor which gives LSU better footing in their quest for Leigh:
The newest phenomenon in collegiate football:
"Offer my younger bro, too, then we'll talk."
Well, James Cregg is way ahead of the other schools, offering Garrett Dellinger's little brother as well as Tristan's lil bro Aidan in record time, due to genuine interest in their abilities (Aidan, an in-coming sophomore at Robinson, is already 6'4 225 at the age of 14....he also has the best high school O-lineman in the country training him daily).
This isn't a flippant gesture...LSU has always been about generational talent stemming from Tiger families, such as 2020 freshman Thomas Perry echoing his father and grandfather's time at LSU, all three Jefferson brothers (Jordan, Rickey and Justin producing 2 national title game appearances, 1 national title and 2 SEC championships) among many others....while not Tigers themselves, Randy Moss and Karl Malone became eternal Tigers once their sons Thaddeus and K.J played for LSU.
Orgeron embraces the ties which bind, whether that be family, friendship or team...he understands the need for one another, whether that be an offer to your talented younger brother or recruiting a friend from your home state to help you acclimate better...if the shoe fits, Coach O is running...
Leigh is no exception, although I doubt he'll have a problem acclimating to the Tigers....he already spent his junior season throwing seniors around like rag dolls, twirling them around on a string wrapped around his large finger.
Tristan makes every block in the book, he possesses diabolical pace for an O-lineman, he has a robust, tyrannical physique which defines the phrase "SEC caliber O-lineman" (a towering 6'6 and a biblical 285); Leigh's ability to help guards and keep edge-rushers at bay simultaneously (by using his girth) is frankly outrageous. This brilliance will be tested at the SEC level, however under the guidance and development of Coach James Cregg, Tristan will have no problems.
He never allowed a sack as a junior, he was a member of the 2019 Robinson Secondary honor roll, he straight up bullied the best in Virginia on a consistent basis...Leigh knows how to lure edge-rushers to the outside and keep them there, freezing them right as they're about to make their inside cut...he suckers defensive ends and blitzing linebackers into the worst positioning possible, all by the 5 star footwork he shows again and again: Tristan ain't moving, he's dancing.
Tristan hardly gets his body twisted by the movement in front of him, rarely biting on a fake or allowing a stunting D-lineman to pass him on his inside shoulder; As a successful defensive end himself, Leigh plays offensive tackle with the same inherent nastiness cultivated from his time on the D-line...he doesn't just want to block you, he seeks to erase you.
If Tristan wants to know the best place to maximize his line of scrimmage skills, taking his attributes from either side of the ball and wrapping em up into a big ball of destruction, LSU is that place:
Our 2020 starting left tackle will be former defensive end Dare Rosenthal, able to provide vicious protection from Cregg's adaptation of his D-line skills; we've successfully moved Joseph Evans from D-line to center and the Super Bowl-winning National Champion O-line Coach also gave T.K McLendon tips on how to geaux from Tight End to Defensive End this off-season...Cregg isn't just an offensive line coach, his knowledge of the game supersedes the position, making the O-line one of the strongest & most cohesive areas on the field....
Cregg will be a Head Coach somewhere, some day in the future...he'd be leading his own program right now if he didn't enjoy winning championships or kicking ass and taking names at LSU so much.
When telling Clemson writers what he's been looking for most in his future school, Leigh reveals all: “I’d say development, relationship with the positional coach and the relationship with the school and my family, and also the academics that are going to help me be more than just an athlete, a student-athlete as well,” he said. “So, those are my big things.”
There is no coach better equipped to develop NFL talent along the offensive line of scrimmage than LSU's James Cregg: he can take a highly rated defensive end and turn him into an NFL Draft pick as an offensive tackle...just imagine what he could do with a 6'6, 285 lb Hercules like Tristan Leigh?
National titles, additional Joe Moore Awards, high NFL Draft selections....but more than that, Leigh would be a major cornerstone of the hardest-working, hardest-playing program in the nation, a team who also have the most fun of any squad in college football.
Without knowing Tristan's mother, Laura Rigney, LSU fans escorted her to her seat at Tigers Stadium, showing the family-first vibes within the Great State of Louisiana.
Tristan, I can vouch for this too: as a former "Louisiana outsider", I've been accepted with open arms by so many Tiger fans.
You become a Tiger, you're a Tiger for life...and that geauxs for your family and friends too. LSU has a rich tradition of protecting our young men, even when they get in trouble, even when they make mistakes, Coach Ed Orgeron's staff have an unbreakable oath of silence: with each passing media microphone placed in front of their faces, the quieter this veteran coaching staff become.
Third: For academics, you can't get better than LSU. Just look at the list of stunning people who've graduated from Louisiana State University from political mastermind James Carville, Donna Brazile, CNN's Don Lemon, Fox News's Sandra Smith, Shaquille O'Neal (who used the degree he earned at LSU for his career after basketball), Academy Award-winning composer Bill Conti, Democratic governor John Bel Edwards, stand-up comedian Theo Von....the list is bottomless and proves LSU is far more than an athletics' department.
Hmmm...I think all bases are covered, Tristan!
Tristan, LSU needs you, Aidan and the family...
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
COPYRIGHT 2020 UNINTERRUPTED WRITINGS INC. LLC
SHOUTOUTS TO: JAMIE THORNHILL, YOU HAD MY BACK WITH THAT JERK! THANK YOU! STAN ALON, YOU TOO BROTHER! RASHAD DAVIS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR FRIENDSHIP AND YOUR TWEETS HAVE BEEN IMPORTANT, EVERYONE FOLLOW @rashadDaviSr , DON "UTAH MAN" CANNON IF YOU DIDN'T SEE OUR SHOUTOUT YESTERDAY.
AND NURSEKORT "SAVIN LIVES WHILE TALKIN JIVE"