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30 Greatest Tigers of the Decade: #11 LaRon Landry

#11 LaRon Landry
#11 LaRon Landry

LaRon Landry played three different positions his freshman year: cornerback, strong safety, and then finally starting at free safety for the second half of the season.  The 2003 defense was absurdly great and one of the starters on the unit was true freshman.  What were the odds of that?  He was second team All-SEC as a freshman and a Freshman All-American.  He was a starter for a national champion as a freshman.

To say Landry blossomed isn't really accurate.  He was awesome the second he stepped on campus.  Sure, he kept getting better, but he was a stud right away.  He made 92 tackles his sophomore year and had 3 sacks and 4 interceptions.  He had five tackles for loss, so it wasn't just that he was picking up cheap tackles at the end of big gains. 

He didn't make first team All-SEC until his junior year, believe it or not.  His tackles dropped to 69 and he had 4 TFL's and 1 sack.  He recorded 9 pass breakups and another 3 picks.  Once again, Landry was everywhere. And his one sack in 2005 was that huge sack against Alabama, keying the SEC West championship.  And let's face it, we were all positive he was gonna turn pro at the end of the year.  He was projected as a late first round pick, but he delayed the NFL millions to return for his senior year and one more chance at a second national title ring.

He led the team in tackles his senior year with 74.  He had another 3.5 TFL and 3 interceptions.  Landry, simply put, was an absolute bad ass.  He was a dominant free safety every season and he stayed the full four years.  It's hard to imagine a more productive free safety, as he finished his career with 315 tackles (195 of them solo), 16 TFL's, 8 sacks, and 12 interceptions.  Landry was also the leader of some of the best defenses to ever enter Death Valley, which is saying something.  He never got that second ring, but he appeared in two BCS bowls, three January 1st bowls, and 2 SEC title games.  He was named to the All-SEC team four times and an All-American team three times (Freshman AA in 2003, third team in 2005, 1st team in 2006). 

That's a whole heck of a lot of hardware.