LSU Battles to Stay on Top of College Football’s Version of Mount Everest….
The story of just how dominant the LSU Tiger football team has been, despite a population drop due to the ill-effects of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav, is a story that has flown under the radar nationally and to be honest in some cases locally.
In early 2005 Louisiana had a population of 4,523,628,000. When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the state and basically affected every inch of land in the lower part of our state, there was plenty of relocation to the upper regions of the state and migration out of the state.
Within a year the state’s population had dipped 5%, more than 1 million Louisiana residents had been displaced by the storm combination, it is estimated that more than 1,600 people were killed in both storms and an estimated 220,000 homes were destroyed.
The lives of just about everyone were changed forever due to the damaging effects of the storms and with the loss of people in the lower region of the state the football talent level below the I-10 was changed also.
We saw in the years right after Hurricane Katrina and Rita the LSU Tigers sign more players out of state than what we had seen in the past, especially in the Nick Saban time in Baton Rouge.
In the 2007 recruiting class for LSU 15 of the 26 players signed came from players that played prep football out of the state of Louisiana.
In the 2008 recruiting class for LSU 11 of their 25 signees came from players that played their high school football out of the state of Louisiana.
In the 2009 recruiting class for LSU 12 of their 25 signees came from players that played high school football out of the state of Louisiana, and only 6 of them played their high school football south of the I-10 corridor.
In 2010 LSU signed 27 players and 14 of those players came from talent that played high school football out of the state and that number didn’t include punter Brad Wing, who played his final season of prep football at Parkview Baptist High School in Baton Rouge after growing up in Australia.
But things started to change for LSU in the 2011 recruiting class as the population in the state started to get back to pre-Katrina numbers and the Tigers hired one of the elite college talent evaluators and recruiters in running back coach Frank Wilson to be their recruiting coordinator in 2010.
The recruiting class of 2011 of the 22 signees only 7 of them came from out of state schools and many of them came from schools in the southern region of our state and also from the Baton Rouge area.
Last season we all saw the talents of players like wide receiver/special teams ace Jarvis Landry from Lutcher High School, halfback Kenny Hilliard from Patterson High School, defensive tackle Anthony Johnson from O.Perry Walker High School in New Orleans, wide receiver Odell Beckham from Isidore Newman High School, halfback Terrance Magee from Franklinton High School and offensive lineman La’El Collins from Redemptorist High School in Baton Rouge.
Add defensive end Jermauria Rasco from Evangel Christian High School in Shreveport and it has become obvious that the talent level in the state of Louisiana has returned and in a big way.
In the 2012 recruiting class for LSU 11 of the 24 signees did come from out of state schools, but of the 13 signees in the state in what most recruiting observers believe was an above average recruiting year 12 of the 13 signees came from schools below the I-10 corridor and talents like halfback Jeremy Hill from Redemptorist High School and outside linebackers Ronnie Feist from West St. John High School and Lamar Louis from Breaux Bridge High School have already impressed the LSU coaching staff in their short stint in Baton Rouge.
But despite all those setbacks LSU has continued to be one of the elite schools in college football.
There is no debate that the world of college football in the Deep South and in the state of Louisiana changed forever on November 30, 1999 when the Tigers hired Michigan State head coach Nick Saban as the new head coach at LSU.
For many years schools from across the nation had raided the football talent rich state of Louisiana and the likes of halfback Marshall Faulk (San Diego State), quarterback Peyton Manning (Tennessee),safety Ed Reed (Miami (Fla.),wide Receiver Reggie Wayne Miami (Fla.),halfback Warrick Dunn (Florida State),quarterback Eli Manning (Ole Miss), and defensive tackle Pat Williams (Texas A&M)
all left the state to pursue their college football careers elsewhere.
That all changed when Nick Saban came to Tigertown. Saban and his staff built a high levee around the state and kept most of the top talent in the state and in particular at LSU.
Over the past ten draft classes LSU has finished 5th in the country in players selected by NFL teams.
In that time frame LSU is in the elite category:
1.) USC 70 players
2.) Ohio State 67 players
3.) Miami (Fla.) 63 players
4.) Georgia 58 players
5.) LSU 56 players
6.) Florida 54 players
7.) Oklahoma 49 players
8.) Tennessee 48 players
9.) Florida State 46 players
10.) Texas 45 players
Once Saban departed to the NFL and the Miami Dolphins Les Miles used the same strategy of recruit and develop and LSU is considered one of the most fertile football schools in the nation.
Since the 2005 NFL draft LSU has led the Southeast Conference in total NFL draft picks:
1.) LSU 40 players
2.) Georgia 38 players
3.) Florida 32 players
4.) Alabama 28 players
5.) Auburn 28 players
6.) Tennessee 26 players
Since the 2005 NFL draft LSU has produced more 1st round selections than any other school in the SEC.
1.) LSU 9-1st round picks
(Marcus Spears, Joseph Addai, JaMarcus Russell, LaRon Landry, Dwayne Bowe, Glenn Dorsey,
Craig “Buster” Davis, Tyson Jackson and Patrick Peterson.)
2.) Florida 8-1st round picks
3.) Alabama, Tennessee and Auburn- all with 7- 1st round picks
6.) Georgia 5-1st round picks
It took LSU 26 years (1979-2004) to accumulate 9 first round choices combined. What took 26 years to do before the team of Nick Saban and Les Miles came to Tigertown it took the duo just 7 years to produce the same number.
Those type athletes have made LSU one of the elite schools and Les Miles one of the most successful coaches in the country.
Since 2005 Miles has won 75 games and lost only 18.
Of the 18 losses, 17 of them came from SEC schools and his only non-conference loss
was a (19-17) defeat by Penn State in the 2010 Capital One Bowl game.
In his 7 seasons at LSU he has went to a bowl game every year and won 11 or more games in 5 seasons.
Miles has led the Tigers to 3 SEC West titles, 3 BCS bowl games, 2 BCS National Championship games and 1 national championship game win in 2007.
In 2011 LSU had 38 former players on NFL 53-man rosters and 25 of them were from the state of Louisiana. LSU finished 4th overall in producing players on NFL rosters for 2011.
Schools Producing the Most NFL Players during the midpoint of the 2011 NFL Season
1. Miami (Fla.) 41
2. USC 40
3. Texas 39
4. LSU 38
5. Ohio State 37
Saban and Miles have been blessed by a football producing ground that has cranked out top college and professional players at the highest level. Louisiana has either been first or second per capita in producing players into the NFL over the past five seasons.
For 2011 Louisiana is one of just three states that have a ratio of less than 1-to-250 prep football players to sign Division I FBS scholarships and it finished second in the country producing a ratio of 1 in every 171 prep football players to gain a football scholarship with 87 Division 1FBS scholarships.
Only the talent rich and heavily populated state of Florida did better with 344 Division 1FBS scholarships and that ratio is 1 of every 111 prep football players in the state.
Florida is first with 344 Division 1FBS scholarships and that is a ratio of 1 in every 111 prep football players in the state.
Another southern state, Georgia, finished third with 170 Division 1FBS scholarships and that is a ratio of 1 in every 185 prep football players in the state.
Now in 2012 LSU is on the verge again of producing a large number of players to the NFL.
LSU is projected to have 3 players, cornerback Morris Claiborne, defensive tackle Michael Brockers and wide receiver Rueben Randle, all go in Round 1.
Also expected to get drafted from LSU are safety Brandon Taylor, tight end Deangelo Peterson, and cornerback Ron Brooks.
Offensive center/guard T-Bob Hebert, outside linebacker Ryan Baker, offensive guard Will Blackwell, fullback James Stampley, defensive end Kendrick Adams, linebacker Karnell Hatcher and quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee are expected to sign free agent contracts.
Schools from across the country have flooded the Louisiana high school ranks again to try and recruit talent that is now back to almost the same type numbers before this region was ravaged by a series of hurricanes.
In 2010 296 high school players signed scholarships to play football at the next level.
In 2012 the number has grown in two seasons from 296 to 389 players who have signed football scholarships from the state of Louisiana in 2012 at the next level.
Next week when the draft rolls around the fruits of this football talent rich state will again be on centerstage, and so will LSU.
And just think about what could be an avalanche of pro talent to hit in next year’s draft when cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon, safety Eric Reid, defensive tackle Bennie Logan, defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, and offensive tackles Chris Faulk and Alex Hurst, along with halfback Spencer Ware could all be eligible for the 2013 NFL draft and all would be early round picks.