The status of three defensive linemen bound for LSU became more clear a day before players report to camp.
Edwin Alexander, LSU’s defensive tackle signee from St. Thomas Aquinas, has been cleared by the NCAA and is expected to report with the team on Wednesday, according to a report from ESPN 104.5 FM.
Meanwhile, Edna Karr defensive end Andre Anthony says he’s "still waiting" for the NCAA to rule on his eligibility. And Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College defensive tackle Travonte Valentine is expected to join the Tigers, barring an unforeseen academic setback, a source close to the player confirmed Tuesday.
Alexander, a 330-pounder ranked as the ninth-best tackle in the 2016 class, is “full go” after being officially cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, Culotta & The Prince, a morning radio show on 104.5 PM, announced Tuesday morning. The station is a partner with the university.
Alexander, one of just two members of the 2016 signing class not to have enrolled in summer school, was expected to “become eligible shortly,” coach Les Miles said last week. Alexander scored high enough on his latest ACT test to qualify, The Advocate reported two weeks ago.
Alexander’s arrival is a significant boost for a squad searching for a nose tackle in defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s new 3-4 scheme. It’s, somewhat, of an unstable position. Christian LaCouture, at 307 pounds, started at nose tackle at the beginning of spring practice before the staff moved Davon Godchaux, at 293 pounds, into that role with two weeks left in spring.
Alexander will play nose tackle, Aranda said earlier this summer. Valentine is expected to also play nose tackle, if he does, indeed, arrive.
“I think we’re still trying to find answers inside. The ability that Godchaux brought us to play inside was real exciting,” Aranda said. “I think there’s times we’re going to want Godchaux on edges as well. So who comes in? Who does that? That’s where I think there’s some room for some of these younger guys, but I think there’s time for that to play out.”
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LSU begins preseason camp Thursday.
Anthony, ranked as the 15th-best weak-side defensive end in the 2016 class, told The Advocate on Monday night that he continues to wait for the NCAA to rule on his eligibility. Miles insisted twice this summer that the Tigers would appeal a likely ineligible ruling from the governing body.
Anthony could enroll in school, use a redshirt this fall and gain eligibility for next season – something several former signees have done at LSU. Anthony’s situation is different than Alexander, who only needed to raise a test score.
The hangup regards Anthony’s year and a half spent at Miller McCoy Academy in New Orleans. Miller McCoy shut down two years ago, and the NCAA is questioning his coursework from Miller McCoy, Miles indicated in an impassioned statement defending Anthony at SEC media days last week.
Valentine, dismissed from the squad last summer, is expected to successfully qualify academically when grades are posted Friday, following summer semesters at Mississippi Gulf Coast.
It’s unclear exactly when Valentine would report to camp, but signs of his arrival have appeared throughout the summer. As recently as two weeks ago, the Miami native visited LSU, meeting with coaches. LSU in May received assurances from the Southeastern Conference that Valentine, deemed ineligible by the SEC as a freshman at LSU, would be eligible for the 2016 season if he did, in fact, rejoin the program and qualify academically. LSU requested a ruling from the league on the once highly touted high school star.
LSU’s primary recruiting target this summer hasn’t necessarily been a 2017 prospect.
Valentine, who has three years of eligibility remaining, has spent the last year at two junior colleges – Arizona Western and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He was dismissed from Arizona Western following an arrest after playing in just six games last fall. On Oct. 15, 2015, Valentine was arrested and charged with a disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, according to court records obtained by The Advocate. The court dismissed the charge a month later. The arrest stemmed from a physical altercation.
Valentine’s football career started off rocky upon leaving Miami’s Champagnat Catholic-Hialeah as the third-ranked defensive tackle prospect in the 2014 class. The SEC never ruled him eligible during his true freshman season at LSU, despite the NCAA granting him eligibility. Miles suspended him for spring practice in 2015 in what the coach suggested was academic in nature and then dismissed him in the summer.