Ready for 2010 and beyond? LSU’s football recruiting class is rated as the best in the country by ESPN Scouts Inc. and Rivals.com. Landing quarterback Russell Shepard put the Tigers on top. Shepard, who is already enrolled at LSU, is rated by ESPN as the top high school football player in the country and by Rivals.com as the No. 1 quarterback. Other highly ranked recruits include Craig Loston, who Rivals says is the best safety; Janzen Jackson, considered to be the No. 2 cornerback; and Chris Davenport, a defensive tackle from Mansfield thought to be the No. 2 player in the state. The Tigers are still in the running for Rueben Randle of Bastrop, a quarterback/wide receiver rated as the No. 1 player in Louisiana. Randle’s father, Emmit, told The (Monroe) News Star that his son’s top four schools are “Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma and Miami.” Rueben Randle is scheduled for visit Alabama this weekend and LSU the following weekend. National Signing Day, the first opportunity high school players have to sign scholarships to play at a college, is set for Feb. 4.
Start talking: Veteran sports talk show host Jimmy Ott is returning to his former home on WSKR-AM (1210). Beginning Monday morning, the popular drive-time talk show host will broadcast his show, The Press Box, from the local Clear Channel station that carried it from 2000-07, when Ott moved to Citadel station WIBR-AM (1300). Back then, the move was part of Citadel’s strategy to reformat the station and try to snag listeners from The Score, the local sports radio market leader. Despite Ott’s devoted following, WIBR never caught on as a sports station, and, after its transmitter was damaged by Hurricane Gustav, the station went off the air for several months, leaving Ott in limbo. The Press Box will air on The Score from 9 a.m. to noon. A televised version of the show will continue to be broadcast daily on COX channel KPBN from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and again from 10 p.m. to midnight.
Decision day: Third-year college sophomores and juniors have until 11 p.m. today to declare for the NFL Draft. LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell is entering the draft, along with teammate Ricky Jean-Francois, a defensive tackle. Other players deciding today to turn pro are Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin—who helped the Gators win their second national championship in three years—and Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez. Among the players who decided to return to college are Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes and Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy.
Play some D: The New Orleans Saints hired Gregg Williams to fill their vacant defensive coordinator’s post and revive a defense that allowed 331 yards per game. Coach Sean Peyton announced the hiring today. Williams, who spent last season in the same job for the Jacksonville Jaguars, replaces Gary Gibbs. Gibbs was fired 10 days after New Orleans finished the 2008 regular season ranked 23rd in the NFL in total defense. In five of the last eight years Williams’ defenses have ranked in the top 10 in the league—including three top threes in the past five years.