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June 29, 2011

The Birth of the LSU Flying Tigers - A tribute to Chris Tolliver

 LSU football has a problem:  No passing game.  Sometimes problems like these are conquered by hiring the best teachers and strategists in the business.  LSU lured away long time Urban Meyer protege Billy Gonzales from Florida and created the position of passing coordinator so that Gonzales could help create some of the magic that Florida's offenses had enjoyed.  Florida's offense really dropped off last year but, LSU still lacked a solid passing game.  In all fairness, Coach Gonzales' charge was to prepare LSU's receivers and those in the know have no complaints about LSU's receivers.  The problem with LSU's air attack was not the receivers but, the quarterback.  This year LSU has hired new Offensive Coordinator Steve Kragthorpe in large part because of his talent at coaching quarterbacks.  Tiger nation is collectively holding our breath to see if Coach Kragthorpe can transform senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson.  Sometimes problems like these are remedied by bringing in the pros but sometimes, the real magic develops from tragedy.  This is where LSU wide receiver Chris Tolliver enters the picture and where the modern day LSU Flying Tigers have the opportunity to be born.

Chris Tolliver's Story, So Far
Chris Tolliver still has a lot of opportunity in front of him.  He is still a young man and most of his adult life lies ahead.  Tolliver came to LSU in 2008 rated by ESPN and Rivals as the 11th best receiver nationally in a recruiting class that included Julio Jones (Alabama), A.J. Green (Georgia), and Michael Floyd (Notre Dame).  A year or two earlier or later and Tolliver could easily have been considered a top 5 wide receiver but number eleven in 2008 put Chirs Tolliver in pretty good company. At 6' 1" and 178lbs, Chris Tolliver is good sized.  Out of high school Rivals reported that Tolliver had 4.4-second/40-yard speed and most of the time athletes shave off a tenth or two off of their 40-yard time after a year or two of college training.  Tolliver must have followed this pattern because in his official player bio LSU calls Tolliver "the fastest receiver on the team."  In their evaluation, Scout recruiting services had this to say about Tolliver:

"Tolliver is a big play receiver that can beat you every way possible. He can run by a secondary or take the short pass the distance. Tolliver is a terrific runner with the ball, showing very good speed, elusiveness and quickness. He can make a defender miss or run right by you. Tolliver has good hands and concentration and he also shows toughness by going over the middle. He can also go up and get the ball and has good body control."

Even with all of these measurables Chris Tolliver was waiting in line behind some talented receivers to get his shot at wide receiver.  In 2008 Tolliver was red shirted.  In 2009 Tolliver participated in three games but did not have any recordable catches.  In 2010 Tolliver did not start but participated in 6 games and caught two passes for a combined total of 35-yards.  Chris Tolliver will not be able to play another down of college football in Tiger Stadium ever again.  It may be an emotional time right now but, I feel certain that Chris Tolliver will reflect on his experience at LSU and tell you that he wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.   However, Chris Tolliver, a very promising wide receiver has received one too many concussions in practicing against one the hardest hitting defensive secondaries in college football.  Because of these concussions Tolliver has been advised that he should not and cannot play football any more.  

The Birth of LSU's Flying Tigers
Chris Tolliver has sacrificed quite a bit to wear that purple and gold uniform and his efforts should not go unrecognized by a single member of Tiger Nation.  Moreover, I feel strongly that the LSU Tiger football team should honor Tolliver's efforts by giving an inspired commitment to a passing game that Chris Tolliver can no longer physically contribute to.

I think the entire offense and more specifically Coach Kragthorpe and senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson should make a commitment to rally around Tolliver's loss so that LSU may gain a passing game.  Here are a few specific ways that LSU may commit to honoring Chris Tolliver by way of an improved passing game:

  1. Chris Tolliver's jersey number is #21 - commit to making 21 completions a game or better yet
  2. Commit to scoring a minimum of three passing touchdowns a game (with extra points 21pts)
  3. If the first two sound somewhat lofty why not simply commit to the idea that no wide receiver will complete his career at LSU with only two catches or only 35 receiving yards. Chris Tolliver was far too talented and hardworking to finish his college career with those numbers.  The LSU offense needs to let that idea sink in - There is far too much talent at the receiving positions at LSU for any receiver that may currently have the opportunity to play in even just a few games to finish with only 2 pass receptions for 35 yards.
Let Chris Tolliver's tragic situation end tragically.  Rally around this fallen Tiger.  Let Chris Tolliver's loss of opportunity to play be the birth of a renewed, inspired effort to give birth to a fierce Tiger air attack.  If that happens this year, I plan on calling the LSU air attack "The LSU Flying Tigers".  


Texas Tiger said...

This article was a great one Bob. It is a shame an athlete with Chris Tolliver's ability can not compete any longer on the football field. However, I completely agree with you ... the receivers should dedicate this season to Chris and use it as motivation. Personally, with the missing piece of our offense was someone to coach quarterbacks. That piece is in place with the Kragthrope hire. We'll see a marked improvement in the offense in 2011. With the hard hitting, aggressive defense of Chavis, LSU will romp and stomp in 2011! The schedule is tough, and the team will have to bring the "A" game each and every week. But I feel this group is up to the challenge. I can't wait!!!!

Graym said...

I am SO GLAD someone let me know about Tolliver. I HATE this for him, BUT, HE could be the turnng point for us. I hope and pray Tolliver will see LSU in the SEC Championship Game and KNOW he had a key part in it. THANKS AGAIN! Gray Allison (The PurpleTiger)

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