LSU got one of the nation’s top athletes in the nation when Kendell Beckwith (Jackson, La, East Feliciana High) faxed in his letter of intent with Les Miles’ Tigers early Wednesday morning during national signing day, but finding a spot for him won’t be as easy.
The No. 2 recruit in the state of Louisiana played quarterback in high school, but was never going to be confused for John Elway with his play behind center. He was a runner and rarely looked to throw the ball and relied on his elite athleticism to make plays.
That just won’t work in college, especially in the SEC where the bet defenses in the country call home.
At 6-3 and 225-pounds, Beckwith is too tall to play running back and I don’t think he has the suddenness or top-end speed to transition to a wide receiver position, and while he has shown off his playmaking abilities in the open field in high school, I don’t think he can find a home on the perimeter.
He has good enough hands that he can prosper as a tight end in the mold of Vernon Davis or Aaron Hernandez, but has never blocked anything in his life and would need to add weight and strength to make that change. I think he can certainly do that over the next year before blossoming into the position.
However, I think the best place for Beckwith will be on defense, where defensive coordinator John Chavis has sent many supreme athletes to the next level, including four potential first-round picks this year. When you look at him, he looks like a classic LSU linebacker and while he may lack the necessary instincts to fill the void left by Kevin Minter at middle linebacker, he can be a terror coming off the edge.
Line Beckwith up at outside linebacker and tell him to rush the quarterback and let his athleticism take over, and he can be a double-digit sack guy by his sophomore season. The last top athlete that LSU had was Russell Shepard, who played quarterback in the same way Beckwith did, but his move to receiver didn’t work out, so now is the time for LSU to try the defensive side of the ball.
Beckwith could be another potential All-American defender for LSU and they should line him up there early so they don’t risk “breaking” him.
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