The LSU Tigers continued a massive National Signing Day haul on Wednesday morning with the signing of San Antonio (Texas) Warren defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao.
The former longtime Texas commit had looked like he was headed for Oregon throughout most of the month of January after he officially decommitted from the Longhorns when former defensive tackles coach Bo Davis left for USC.
However, the Tigers earned a visit from Lealaimatafao in the middle of the month and a subsequent trip to Eugene was not enough for the Ducks to recover, as the squatty defensive tackle made his decision over the weekend and then announced it in a ceremony at his school.
He was the second former Longhorns pledge to don the purple and gold of the Tigers, joining Keller (Texas) defensive end Sione Teuhema, who had this to say to his future teammate:
S/O to my boy @TreyL55 for signing with LSU! We're about to do it big out there in the swamps!— SïOńĘ tÊuHēMå (@SioneTeuhema18) February 5, 2014
A consensus three-star prospect nearly rated as a four-star by 247Sports, the 6'0, 300-pounder is rated as the No. 33 defensive tackle nationally, the No. 55 player in the state of Texas, and the No. 455 player overall. He also held offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, and others.
There aren't many positions where being slightly undersized can be an advantage, but defensive tackle is one of those positions. Listed at 6'0, Lealaimatafao is on the short size to be a strong prospect. However, at a position that requires winning the leverage battle on every play, squatty defensive tackles can be extremely effective, though the San Antonio Warren product may never be a four-star prospect as a result.
When Lealaimatafao lines up in a gap, he appears to be almost impossible for opponents to stop, in part because of his size and height, but mostly because his anticipation of snap counts and impressive first-step quickness allow him to get into the opposing backfield almost before offensive linemen trying to reach block him can get their hands on him.
Playing heads up isn't quite as much of a strength for Lealaimatafao, as he can get a little bit high even with his relatively short stature and does need to work on coming out of his stance a little bit lower.
There's also a motor there that allows him to make plays down the field, even if the overall top-end speed of Lealaimatafao wouldn't rank among the top prospects at his position. When re-directing in the backfield to make plays, he is above average for his size and would allow him to be competitive in college right now in terms of pure mass.
As a tackler, the mass and momentum generated by Lealaimatafao when he crashes into backfields can result in some pretty vicious hits for a defensive tackle. He's not a natural bend-and-explode tackler, but that probably doesn't matter too much to the opponents who spend an extra second or two on the ground after ending up on the receiving end of Lealaimatafao tackles.
His less-than-ideal size hasn't kept him from accumulating an impressive offer list and shouldn't keep him from being a productive player in college, either.
After adding Lealaimatafao, Teuhema, wide receiver Malachi Dupre, and defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, the LSU class now ranks No. 2 nationally and No. 2 in the SEC, behind only rival Alabama.