Dan and Poseur's all-time team lists have been a fun way to remember the greats (and appreciate a lot of the last 10 years in ways some of us don't), but one of the side effects, at least for me personally, is that I wind up looking back on some of the lesser-remembered seasons. The guys that make you think "man, he could play" but either don't quite meet the all-timer threshold, or in some cases, happen to fall behind greats that were simply greater.
So I started sorting through some old media guides, stat sheets and just my memories to come up with a list of 10 of the greatest forgotten seasons in LSU history. Sure, some on this list have been honored. All-Americans even. But for one reason or another they just don't seem to be immortalized the way we think of some others.
Here's to the under-recognized.
1. Gabe Northern, 1994
Okay, so right out of the shoot I'm leading with a member of the all-time team (two, actually), but hear me out: Northern's 1994 season really was spectacular. 63 tackles and a school-record 23 tackles for a loss, including 11 sacks, plus four pass break-ups and a forced fumble. All with very little help on a 4-7 football team that had its head coach fired. Northern never received the recognition of Dorsey, Spears, or even Sam Montgomery, but in terms of stats he may have turned in the greatest season in history for a defensive end here.
2. Corey Webster, 2003
Yes, another all-timer, but hear me out. For all the praise we heap up on Patrick Peterson's 2010, or the seasons Morris Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu had in 2011, the Godfather of DBU put together the best season I've ever seen from a college cornerback in 2003. Statistically, he's right there with an all-time record of 32 total pass break-ups, including seven interceptions to go with 46 tackles and 3.5 tackles for a loss. But it's also who he did it against: holding Oklahoma's Mark Clayton to just 32 yards in the Sugar Bowl; Chris Collins, the go-to guy for Eli Manning, to just 39 yards; or an SEC title game in which Georgia's Fred Gibson got so frustrated with Webster's jam that he was benched for quitting on his routes. I'd love to have some more advanced stats from that year, but for my money nobody did it better than C-Web in 2003.
3. Kenny Mixon & Chuck Wiley, 1997
Another pair of names that suffer from comparison to the #DLU run that followed them with Booger McFarland, Chad Lavalais, etc... These two combined for 126 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. Mixon blocked three kicks and chipped in another 17 quarterback hurries. Sure, they benefitted from playing alongside a star like McFarland, but still, they took advantage of that opportunity.
4. Ryan Clark, 2001
He's more well-known for having an outstanding pro career and becoming one hell of a TV personality for ESPN, but Clark did a little bit of everything for four seasons as a safety at LSU, and in 2001 he was the glue of a mediocre secondary that got hot at the right time, recovering a key fumble in the SEC championship upset and snagging five tackles and a sack in the Sugar Bowl win over Illinois. Overall, Clark finished with 93 tackles, four tackles for loss, three interceptions and another 10 pass breakups on the season. That's a pretty well-rounded stat line for a safety.
5. Domanick Davis, 2002
He almost never comes up in the discussion of great punt returners at LSU, but in 2002 Double-D put up the second most yards on returns in school history with 499, and if not for a handful of penalties robbing him of another 44 yards, he'd have the all-time record. He also led the Tigers with 931 rushing yards despite rarely being option one as a tailback. Overall he finished with 2,120 all-purpose yards in his senior year at LSU, on 7.9 yards per touch. His total was the second-most in school history until Leonard Fournette topped it last year, and ranks in the top 10 in SEC history.
6. Jerel Myers, 1999
His 63 catches for 854 yards in Gerry DiNardo's final year remain school records for a freshman. Myers played second, or even third fiddle to Josh Reed and Michael Clayton over his final three years, but for one season, he was the focus of the Tiger passing game.
7. Greg Jackson, 1988
Another All-American on the list, Jackson picked off seven passes and returned them for a record 219 yards -- still the second-highest total in SEC history. He also added another 63 tackles and a pair of forced fumbles. But Jackson tends to get forgotten alongside the LaRon Landrys and Eric Reids of recent years.
8. Rydell Melancon, 1981
Melancon suffers from playing next to Al Richardson in the early 80s, but he put up the first double-digit sack season in school history with 10 in 1981 (and only Northern and Oliver Lawrence join him in that club), plus another 71 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Hell, you could argue his name doesn't even get its "Louisiana as hell" just due with guys like Nicky Hazard, Ron Sancho and Nacho Albergamo in the 80s.
9. Drake Nevis, 2010
It's probably due to his relatively short NFL career, but Drake Nevis feels like something of a forgotten man in LSU's most recent run of great linemen. He was an All-SEC pick in 2010 with 56 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and an interception, but Nevis suffered from Auburn's Nick Fairley turning in an all-timer of a year that season, and kind of being the player sandwiched between Glenn Dorsey and guys like Montgomery, Mingo and Bennie Logan behind him.
10. Michael Brockers, 2011
This one is more observational from my standpoint, but I've always felt like Brockers never got his due for really setting the table for LSU's dominant defensive line in 2011. He was just a massive rock in the middle of that defense, drawing double teams and making sure that players Montgomery, Mingo, Logan and Anthony Johnson had lots of one-on-one matchups. He even turned in a strong stat line with 54 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, an interception, a forced fumble and a blocked kick. He didn't even make first-team all-conference, and I remember some being surprised when he declared early for the NFL Draft, where he wound up being the 14th overall pick. And he's still helping to set up one of the best penetrating tackles in the pros in his teammate Aaron Donald.