So one of the biggest news items this list, literally in fact, involved the oft-discussed potential return of the great defensive line legend of the LSU football program of the last two seasons: tackle Travonte Valentine.
Ross Dellenger of the Advocate wrote on Thursday that the former 2014 recruit has been cleared by the SEC to return to LSU for the fall from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, if he can successfully complete 13 hours of coursework before the start of the semester.
To refresh, Valentine signed with LSU in 2014, but was ruled ineligible by the conference (despite being cleared by the NCAA) because of a flag on his transcript from another member school. He was ineligible for the fall of 2014, but would have been able to play in 2015, had he...you know...gone to class or anything like that. He was suspended for all of the 2015 spring practices, and didn't last much longer with the team after. He transferred to a JUCO in Arizona, where he played in six games and put up 11 tackles and two sacks, but got the boot after an arrest for disorderly conduct. He wound up at Mississippi Gulf Coast and has been working to try and get back to LSU ever since. While he'd be able to come back to LSU right away with enough work, he'd have to finish his term at the MGCC and graduate to play anywhere else (and he claims offers from Mississippi State and Auburn).
So basically, it's in Valentine's best interests to get the 13 hours done and try to get on the season this year for LSU. After that, he'd be cleared to declare for the NFL Draft, which seems likely.
Valentine is the subject of great internet myth, as far as LSU is concerned.
He was a star recruit, and the paysite crowd spoke of some impressive practice performances at times during his season on campus. His exit, however, was pretty spectacular. In speaking with some sources he just didn't do much of anything that semester -- attend class, study hall, workouts, anything. I've even heard a rumor that he lost his team-issued i-Pad playbook and couldn't turn it in when he was finally dismissed.
That said, he does have an avenue to return here, if he an complete his work. And for somebody with his academic track record, 13 hours over the course of a summer is probably a lot more difficult than it seems. After that, well then it's all on the field, and nobody has seen this guy ever actually play a college football game. From most reports, Valentine was never a problem in terms of getting into legal trouble or creating issues within the team, just lazy. If he's finally motivated however, he could be a textbook 3-4 nose tackle in Dave Aranda's new defense.
That said, I wouldn't hold your breath. There have been lots of bigfoot sitings over the years, but all that remains is a myth too.
In other class of 2014 news, former Tiger receiver Trey Quinn has made a decision regarding his transfer destination, and will join Chad Morris at SMU. There had been rumors that Quinn would join former Texas A&M QB Kyle Allen at the University of Houston, but he chose Morris over Tom Herman. SMU's second-year head coach recruited Quinn heavily in 2014 as Clemson's offensive coordinator.
In other defensive line news, Campus Sports.net has a pretty cool feature on defensive end Lewis Neal's day-trading activities in his spare time. Sounds like Neal is setting himself up for a post-football career in the financial industry.
On Wednesday, the New England Patriots announced that Tiger legend Kevin Faulk will be entering the franchise's hall of fame. Faulk is LSU's all-time leading rusher (for at least seven more months anyway), and already a member of the LSU and Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. He was a key contributor to three of New England's Super Bowl wins in the Belichick-Brady era as a third-down running back and specialist. He made it 13 years in the league despite never being the superstar he was at LSU -- a great testament to work ethic and finding a niche at the next level.
Other Tigers in the pros news this week includes Zach Mettenberger, who was cut by the Tennessee Titans earlier in the week but picked up off waivers by the San Diego Chargers. He'll be back with Ken Whisenhunt, the head coach that drafted him in Tennessee, now the Chargers' OC.
With 2016 set up to be the year of the running back, Bill C over at Football Study Hall has his advanced back stats tabled here, and among the returnees from 2015 it should surprise nobody that Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook top the list in terms of the efficiency and explosiveness factors. Pro Football Focus grades Fournette slightly ahead of Cook here as well.
PFF also has a short feature on how LSU's 2016 personnel shakes out compared to the players Aranda used in his defense at Wisconsin.