ARTICLE

Croot Loops: OL Lucas LeGrand

Senior's LeGrand fills an area of need for the Hawkeyes

Lucas LeGrand (Telegraph Herald)
Lucas LeGrand (Telegraph Herald)

Miami, the one from Florida and not Ohio, came looking around at offensive lineman Lucas LeGrand. But he had already committed to Iowa and wasn't budging.

"I was talking to Miami and some other smaller schools," LeGrand said. "I told them that Iowa is where I want to go."

That's the big piece of news. Otherwise, LeGrand's recruitment has been quiet. The fact that he committed to Iowa early last April probably shut down his recruitment. His only other offer was from Northern Colorado, but there was interest from Iowa State, Kansas State and Northwestern.

That doesn't mean LeGrand has been sitting on the couch doing the X Box. He's the shooting guard for Dubuque Senior, the No. 1 team in Iowa Class 4A basketball. In Dubuque, a No. 1-ranked basketball team is a huge deal.

"It is definitely improving in the weight room," LeGrand told HawkeyeReport.com. "I've been working on foot speed and basketball helps a lot with that. I am getting my feet moving and improving my technique. I used to be the biggest guy on the field but now I need to work more on technique and strength."

Now, where is LeGrand going to play for the Hawkeyes? Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said on signing day that the Hawkeyes are short at offensive tackle. Ferentz loves who Iowa has coming back -- Brandon Scherff will be on a lot of watch lists -- but the Hawkeyes are looking for a tackle opposite Scherff. Senior Andrew Donnal and sophomore Ryan Ward are the candidates. After them, it's probably Cole Croston and Mitch Keppy.

LeGrand is hearing OT.

"It still is tackle," LeGrand said. "They said they are a little light at tackle. They'd like me to redshirt unless three or four people get hurt. They are planning on a redshirt year to get used to the program."

What are the main areas that he is working on this off-season?

Senior's head coach is Dale Ploessl, who played defensive line at Drake and who coached at Drake, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, California University of Pennsylvania and Montana State. Ploessl knows LeGrand's potential.

"He is really working on his development and there are a lot of things he needs to continue working on," Ploessl told HawkeyeReport.com. "He needs to improve his strength level in the weight room. The great thing about Lucas is that he has been a three or four sport guy so he is always on the court or the field. He hasn't had quite as much time in the weight room as other kids. He got by on the field last year being a big guy. He is really just trying to fine tune his technique being a senior. He wants to help set himself up to be successful this year and at the next level."

Basics: Dubuque Senior High School, 6-5, 250, offensive lineman

Dent the depth chart in ’14? — No. LeGrand will need some time in the weight room. One observation here, offensive tackle seems to be the consensus and that might very well be where he ends up, but . . .

Off-the-top-of-my-head Hawkeye comparison — . . . Remember Bruce Nelson? He started his Iowa career as a walk-on tight end. By the time his freshman year ended, Nelson was the starting left tackle. He weighed in at 250 and those were the rough years, but Nelson eventually found his way to center and became all-Big Ten and a second-round NFL draft pick. Why the comparison with LeGrand? Nelson measured his senior year at 6-5, 285. Match the skill sets, maybe that's where LeGrand breaks in. Eventually.

ESPN.com scouting snippet — LeGrand is an athletic prospect with the height and playing strength for the offensive tackle position at the BCS level of competition. His sturdy frame and arm length should be able to support the additional bulk needed to compete successfully at the next level. Shows the strong hands necessary to maneuver and control blockers when setting the edge. His flexibility, balance and agility allow him to play on his feet and adjust to quickness within tight spaces. . . . We feel LeGrand has plenty of upside. hHndles the short snap(FG/PAT). He is a tough guy who will need some time and most likely a redshirt year to grow physically while polishing technical skills. Once ready to play, he should have a long and productive career at the BCS level.

What Iowa said . . .

Head coach Kirk Ferentz on the deficit Iowa now has at offensive tackle — “I think we've kind of been, I don't want to say stealing from our offensive line pool [scholarships, bodies], but we've been cutting it pretty close over the last couple years recruiting for that position. So, that is one area we need to make sure we really address it. Based on what I know right now, we have a good opportunity to do that [perhaps foreshadowing 2015 recruiting]. I'm confident about that. That would be the first and foremost thing on my mind right now. Then, we'll disburse the other scholarships. We've gone pretty hard with the defensive position the last few years, so I'm not saying we won't take players, but I don't expect us to sign five at each position. That's not going to happen next year. Probably more balanced at every position, but the offensive line is a critical area for us right now.”

Iowa recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson: “We'll start him out at tackle. That was one of the places where we had a shortcoming in this class. We're going to have to look for some tackles and definitely sign some in the next class. I think he'll probably end up starting out there, where he'll end up? I think with some of the rotation with our O-line, nobody knows.”

On athleticism: "He's a great athlete. I think he's young from a football standpoint, not from age but developmental standpoint."

What Rivals.com said . . .

Midwest recruiting coordinator Josh Helmholdt: “I'm interested in seeing how his career develops. He could come in and just end up being depth or he could get a fire lit under his rear-end and turn out to be one of those great Iowa offensive linemen that they produce on a regular basis. He has that ability, and I don't think we've seen the best he has to offer. It's tough to measure his ceiling. He could turn out to be a multi-year starter or he may end up being a depth guy."

What I think (FWIW, obviously) . . .

You like the 6-5. You like the long arms. You watch his YouTubes, LeGrand is a finisher. A lot of his plays end after the whistle blows. He's engaged, his feet are moving and they're probably not going to stop until someone is on the turf. Will he have a wide enough base to play tackle? You want to at least force DEs to run around you. That's where long arms come in. It looked as though LeGrand had a great grasp of targeting. He knew what shoulder he wanted to control and where to put his hands. That's a great head start.

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