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The 2014 LSU Signing Class: Cam Robinson And The Class That Wasn't

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Sometimes you don't miss 'em like you think you will.

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven't heard, stud Alabama left tackle, Cam Robinson and safety Hootie Jones, Louisiana natives, were arrested and charged with a felony early this morning:

Robinson and defensive back Hootie Jones were both charged with possession of narcotics in their hometown of West Monroe. The charges were more serious for Robinson, a potential first-round draft pick next season.

Along with misdemeanor possession, Robinson was also charged with felony illegal possession of stolen firearms.

Speaking from a football perspective, Cam Robinson is a tremendous loss to the Tide. A starter since he stepped on campus, Robinson is about as prototypical of a left tackle as their is in existence. He was a ready-made NFL prospect. Hootie had yet to make significant impact, recording only four total tackles in his career. Still, it's always sad to see young men throw their lives away.

Beyond the pure matchup implications, this latest bit of news is yet another interesting chapter in the story of the 2014 recruiting class. If you remember, many LSU fans went into the 2014 Under Armour All-American game anticipating landing five 5-star talents in a single afternoon. That number dwindled to two and the collective gnashing of teeth only added more angst to an impatient fanbase. Stinging worse, New Orleans natives Speedy Noil and Gerald Willis both opted to spurn the hometown team for SEC rivals. LSU fans kept visions of star instate talents dominating their Tigers in conference play. Yet, where are we three years later? Let's review:

Cam Robinson
No. 2 in the State of Louisiana
No. 4 in the National Composite

Formerly on the fast track to superstardom, now arrested and charged with a felony.

Speedy Noil
No. 3 in the State of Louisiana
No. 8 in the National Composite 

Stuck in a mixture of injury and disciplinary purgatory, most recently a 3-game suspension. seems unlikely to ever capitalize upon his immense talents.

Gerald Willis
No. 5 in the State of Louisiana,
No. 34 National Composite

Booted from Florida after repeatedly fighting with teammates, along with pushing Jameis Winston on the sideline. Now enrolled at Miami.

Tony Brown
No. 2 in the State of Texas
No. 9 in the National Composite

Entering his junior season on indefinite suspension, and has strictly been a reserve player. Arrested his first week on campus at Alabama. Never made a serious impact.

Hootie Jones
No. 6 in the State of Louisiana
No. 50 in the National Composite

Entering his Junior season with the opportunity to start, but has failed to make any significant impact to date.

At one point in time these five were considered serious foundational pieces for the 2014 signing class and now all five are fast on their way to becoming non factors. Of the five, Cam Robinson is the most successful and his football career is on the brink of termination. Speedy Noil showed immense promise his freshman season before becoming a non-factor last year due to injury and off the field issues.

This isn't a lesson in karma. No, every recruit should do what's best for his own future, even if that means leaving Louisiana for Alabama. This is also not a lesson in "we never wanted these guys anyway" bullshit. All five of these players were heavily recruited by Miles and staff. Perhaps they were misevaluated on some level, but on February 5th, 2014, you better believe Miles and company wished they were all signing letters of intent to LSU and not Alabama, Texas A&M and Florida.

No, this is a lesson in patience and perspective. This is a reminder that things don't always go as planned, but that they often work out anyways. Days following the Under Armour "debacle" I penned this piece. In it, I offered up some criticisms:

1) LSU needs to re-evaluate a bit on the recruiting front

...I'm not sure if there needs to be changes to staff or strategy, likely both, but even with increased success nationally, LSU cannot allow their in-state base to erode. Could this crop of kids be the exception, not the rule? Possibly, but again, there are top flight players leaving the state that probably wouldn't have five years ago. Why that is happening is the question that needs to be answered.

That offseason LSU hired Bradley Peveto and the next offseason they hired Ed Orgeron. The next offseason they hired Dameyune Craig. All three have paid significant dividends on the recruiting trail, with Peveto reviving our East Texas pipelines (the exact place where Tony Brown was lost) while Orgeron is an in-state monster. Craig will further strengthen our inroads in the Southeast.

For a coach that's oft criticized for being stuck in his own ways and maintaining an "ancient philosophy" I find that Miles is often thinking two, three moves ahead. If it was apparent to me, a nobody blogger, that LSU needed a recruiting boost in 2014, it was even more apparent to the head football man. When he hired Peveto, you could hear the audible groan, and while we may still have issue with the special teams play, he's largely won us over with his stellar recruiting efforts. That was the intention of the hire from the outset.

It's important to remember that Les Miles is always playing the long game. You may not like or agree with his decisions, but they are always intentional. Next time you want to knee jerk about a stupid play call, recruiting mis step, coaching hire or the like, try to hit the pause button. Try to see the big picture. Because that's exactly what Les Miles does.

The 2014 signing class didn't turn out as we hoped; instead, it turned out better.