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February 10, 2011

LSU Fighting Tigers Ready to Spring!

With LSU Spring football just a short time away, Tiger fans already have realistic hopes of competing for a third national championship in this young century.  Still, there are those in the national media that find it easy to overlook the solid play of our Bayou Bengals.  I do not know if you have seen the Sports Illustrated/ article that re-ranks the 2008 recruiting class but if you haven't seen the article, you may want to take a look.  In the article LSU's 2008 recruiting class is no where to be found in the revised Top 10.

LSU's Spring football session begins March 11 and the April 9th Spring Game that is free and open to the public will be televised again this year on ESPN.  This Spring and this season Tiger fans can expect great things from the Tigers and a large part of that success will fall on the shoulders of LSU football players that were recruited in 2008.  I do not think I will get much of an argument if I say that LSU's 2009 class was stronger than LSU's 2008 class but, that doesn't discount the fact that LSU's 2008 class deserves to be included among the Top 10 recruiting classes of 2008.

In 2008  and ESPN ranked LSU's recruiting class #11, and ranked the class #7.  LSU's 2008 recruiting class included regular contributors:   Patrick Peterson, Ryan Baker, Matt Branch, Chase Clement, Karnell Hatcher, Jordan Jefferson, Chancey Aghayere, Deangelo Peterson, Brandon Taylor, P.J. Lonergan, Lavar Edwards, and Alex Hurst among a class of 26 commits.  A few of the commits from that class like Deangelo Benton and Tim Molton are no longer with the Tiger football team and a few recruits from the 2008 class, like Chris Tolliver, may emerge as serious contributors to the Tigers success this year but the players that I mentioned deserve a little more respect from any expert looking at revising the 2008 recruiting class rankings.

There are two reasons, other than the stellar 2009 LSU recruiting class, that I can imagine LSU was snubbed when Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples compiled his revised list:  the lack of success of Jordan Jefferson, and a sort of unintended penalty to LSU's 2008 freshmen for not emerging as starters the year after LSU's last BCS National Championship.

Jordan Jefferson has not lived up to the 2008 #8 pro-style quarterback ranking that he was awarded but he was one of the few freshmen that started even a single game for the Tigers in the 2008-2009 season.  Jefferson was the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl Offensive MVP his freshman year and this year Jefferson's Cotton Bowl performance as a junior far eclipsed that performance.  But to be fair, Jefferson was the weak link on this year's 11-2 team.  I suspect had the Tigers allowed Jefferson to keep running more in the second half of the Auburn game that instead of narrowly losing to Auburn, LSU may have beaten Auburn on the road to a national title opportunity this year.  But no one, probably least of all Jordan Jefferson, would look for a Heisman nomination based on his performance as a Tiger ball player.  Many fans are eager to see if incoming quarterback Kyle Mettenberger can become LSU's starting QB this season.  Jefferson is a competitor and so expect him to give his best shot at keeping the QB position.  Still, I don't think it would be honest or fair to exclude the 2008 recruiting class from the Top 10 because of Jefferson.

The other more likely factor in LSU's class being excluded is the fact that LSU won the 2007-08 BCS National Championship.  There were a few outstanding seniors that year:  QB Matt Flynn, FB Jacob Hester, Glenn Dorsey,  and Early Doucet.  But there were just as many solid Juniors, Sophomores, and Freshmen in the 2007 season that were more deserving of playing time in 2008 than an incoming Freshman, regardless of his talent.

Part of Andy Staples analysis in the Sports Illustrated article includes the 2008-2010 team record.  According to the article the revised Top 10 2008 recruiting classes is:  1. Alabama 36-5w-l, 2. Oregon 32-7w-l, 3. Ohio State 33-6w-l, 4.  Missouri 28-12w-l, 5.  Arkansas 23-15w-l, 6.  Standford 25-13w-l, 7.  Wisconsin 28-11w-l, 8.  Oklahoma State 29-10w-l, 9. Virginia Tech 31-10w-l, and 10.  FSU 26-14w-l.  Even including the 2008-2009 season, LSU's record for the same time period(2008, 2009, 2010) is 28-11w-l.  LSU's 2008 recruiting class/incoming true freshmen contributed very little to the 2008-2009 season and I strongly suspect the same is true of any regularly strong team included on the list.  I suspect that true freshman on all good teams have contributed more to their team's success in 2009-2010 and even more in 2010-2011.  LSU's record in 2009 was 9-4 with less than 10 point losses to Florida (who had just won the previous BCS NC), Alabama (who went undefeated in a BCS NC that season), Ole Miss by 2 points, and a 2-point loss to Penn. State in a bowl game.  LSU's record in 2010 was 11-2 and one of those two losses was to undefeated BCS NC Auburn at Auburn by 7 points.

No, not all of the stars of these two seasons have emerged from LSU's 2008 recruiting class but it is hard to argue that Patrick Peterson should take a backseat to any player recruited in 2008.   Brandon Taylor and Ryan Baker were key to LSU's top notched defense.  Some have argued that it was because of a pre-season to injury to Baker that LSU struggled some early in the season and some have argued that Taylor's injury late in the season was a key reason for LSU's loss to Arkansas.  The Arkansas game fell largely because of two key long touchdown passes.  True freshman Eric Reid was filling in for Taylor on one, if not both, of those passes.  No Tiger fan will forget Deangelo Peterson's 23 yard run on fourth and one against Alabama this season.  And Jefferson's three touchdown passes in the Cotton Bowl victory this year are still clear in the minds of many.

I can understand Staples' dropping Notre Dame, Miami, and Michigan from the original 2008 Top 10 recruiting class rankings.  All three of those teams have underperformed so badly that they have had to change coaches since 2008.  However, as the LSU 2008 recruiting class emerges, it is clearly rising to the top and making coach Les Miles more and more of a coaching legend.  I can certainly understand not placing LSU's 2008 class #1 but, the 2008 LSU recruiting class is at least in the Top 5 and certainly should have not been left out of the Top 10.  LSU finished this regular season #8 in the AP and USA Today polls maybe that is an unbiased spot to place the 2008 recruiting class.

If LSU lives up to its potential and wins the BCS National Championship again this year, maybe Sports Illustrated/ will revise the rankings once again or maybe they will revise the 2009 or 2010 recruiting class rankings.  If LSU lives up to its potential this year, who cares where the "experts" rank our recruiting classes.  It is probably better to earn respect on the field.         


Anonymous said...

If you use the Cotton Bowl as a yard mark to the ability of this LSU football team.You must be feeling good about the LSU fighting tiger 2011 football season.As that LSU team became better and better throwing the forward pass LSU started to show a very clear superior ability over the Texas A&M team.
The better the LSU QBs pass the football,the better the 2011 LSU fighting tiger football team.
I feel very good about this coming LSU football program.

Anonymous said...

Who out there does not think or know that the LSU 2011 football team will not be a much better college football team?
You have the LSU recruited player over the past years about right.
Les Miles will once again field a very strong LSU football team.

Anonymous said...

One Truth among a thousand Lies,seems to sound clearer
and last longer.Then all that other noise.
Of course the LSU football
Program is very successful winning a lot of college football games.
And of course LSU could not have won that many football games..With out
recruiting very well.
S/I,CNN Who...ESPN What...LSU fighting Tigers,is all you need to know.

Anonymous said...

Coach miles came back.. he recruited well & expects to and will have a great year. Depth is the key for any major level team. Good OL and qb skills will allow the O to run a mixed (unpredictable O - always a key to success in NCAA football

BTW I am for Penna and am the only LSU fan around

Geaux Bengals

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