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30 Greatest Tigers: #21 Bradie James

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#21 Bradie James
#21 Bradie James

 

I may be guilty of overrating Bradie James, but each one of us has our favorite Tigers, and Bradie James is my favorite Tiger of the decade.  James was one of the most sought after recruits in the country, and he was a regular contributor right away.  James was the centerpiece of the James Gang defense that won LSU its first SEC title since 1988.  When you spend 13 years in the football wilderness, it's easy to remember those who brought you to the light.

James was an All-American his senior year, and he was all-SEC for three seasons.  He was the first All-American linebacker since at LSU since Michael Brooks and he was the first LSU linebacker to make two all-SEC teams since Warren Capone.  That's right, James' accomplishments hearken back to the greatest linebackers in school history. 

He earned the honors because he put up some ridiculous numbers.  He made 154 tackles in his senior year.  One hundred and fifty-four.  And it wasn't a one-year fluke.  Bradie James, on his career, made 418 tackles.  That's just an absurd number of tackles, as he was always near the play.  James' one year mark is a school record and his career number ranks second all-time.  Bradie James was a tackling machine.  Yeah, he missed out on the title years, but James' teams were an important building block to get to the mountaintop. 

But that doesn't explain why James is one of my all-time favorite players to don the purple and gold.  Bradie James' parents died only months apart while he was in school.  So while James was busy rewriting the LSU record book, he was going through extremely difficult personal times.  James emerged as a team leader (he was Team Captain), but also as a true role model.  James has set up a foundation dedicated to breast cancer awareness in honor of his mother.  He has been an outspoken advocate on the issue, using his football celebrity for more than just padding his bank account.  And for that, he will always be one of my favorite Tigers.  He's worthy of looking up to.