I hear lots of talk about how wonderfully talented LSU is, and how this season has stunk despite the loads of talent LSU sports on both sides of the ball.
Personally, I am somewhat doubtful about how talented we supposedly are. If we're so talented, where were all the great individual efforts? Where were the spectacular interceptions, the electrifying punt returns, the dramatic bull rushes, the tremendous speed to the ball from the linebackers? No. I don't see any signs that our veterans are a particularly talented group, and I point right at the 2006 recruiting class as a huge problem with the program.
The 2006 class was generally considered solid. It was Les Miles' first full class at LSU, as the 2005 class was necessarily small, and Miles had only just been hired when it was filling up. The 2006 players are juniors now, or redshirt sophomores, except for Shomari Clemons who had to greyshirt to get academically eligible and is currently a redshirt freshman.
According to Rivals, the 2006 class had two 5-stars, twelve 4-stars, and eleven 3-stars. That's not bad at all if you believe the recruiting sites.
That's 25 in all, plus a walk-on long snapper. Here's the breakdown:
- 3 never made it to LSU because of academic problems (Jason Teague, Phil Loadholt, and Charles Deas)
- 6 left the team before ever playing a down (Matt Allen, Troy Giddens, Derrick Odom, Mark Snyder, Zhamal Thomas, Steven Singleton)
- 1 other left the program to pursue other opportunities (J.D. Lott)
- 3 more are still on the team, but have never made significant contributions (Ricky Dixon, Pep Levingston, Jacob O'Hair)
- 3 are role players who provide depth at their position, but really nothing more, and do not appear to be ready to break out into star players (Jacob Cutrera, Chris MItchell, Jared Mitchell)
- 7 have played a fair bit, and may yet emerge as something more than role players, but right now are not really stars (Kelvin Sheppard, Perry Riley, Jai Eugene, Danny McCray, Richard Murphy, Keiland Williams, and Al Woods)
- 1 is still just a redshirt freshman and we don't really know what he brings yet (Shomari Clemons)
- 2 can be said to be very good players at their positions (Richard Dickson and Charles Scott)
- 0 All-America type players at this point
I would be a little friendlier to Charles Scott if he'd been more productive against Ole Miss and Arkansas, but that might not be entirely his fault. That's an entire recruiting class, ranked 7th in the nation in the year it occurred, in which none of them have really emerged as being the kinds of players who can carry a team 3 years later. These guys are among the veterans on this team now, but with the exceptions of Dickson and Scott there really aren't any established stars. The stars are either older (Tyson Jackson, Brandon Lafell, Ciron Black) or younger (Patrick Peterson, Drake Nevis, etc.)
I do not fault Miles for the state of affairs that this class has seen. It's not like LSU let a lot of great players go out of state in this recruiting class. Only Ole Miss's Kentrell Lockett really looks like a player LSU should have gone after and gotten. Chris Brown at Oklahoma is another, but it's not like LSU lacks running backs (or so it seems), and we got a 5-star and two 4-stars in this class.
I guess we can fault him for getting so MANY players who ended up not making the grade character-wise or just didn't make the grades (Troy Giddens, Zhamal Thomas, Derrick Odom, Charles Deas, Phil Loadholt, and Jason Teague), and for being so disastrously wrong on the offensive line, with not a single commitment on the offensive line from 2006 still being on the team even at the START of the 2008 season. I mean seriously, not one offensive line recruit from the 2006 class ever played a down at LSU. Not one.
You can say we should have gone out and gotten better players, and that's all well and good, but LSU recruiting will live and die by how the in-state group looks. In 2006, in retrospect it wasn't that great, and neither was the class. The 2007 class looks a lot better, and the 2008 class looks pretty good as well. The experts believe the 2009 class from Louisiana is outstanding, and if we can keep them all in state, the rebuilding of the program should be just about complete.
And yes, I know a lot of people will bring up the S-man, but if you want to look at another stinker of a recruiting class, take a look some time at the 2002 class. Just be sure to bring a shovel, because you will need it.*
*To be fair, the 2002 class includes former LSU standouts Kyle Williams, Skyler Green, Nate Livings, Cameron Vaughn, and Justin Vincent (who was also a part of the 2003 class), all of whom were contributors and/or stars on some very good teams, but the class as a whole was pretty awful.