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LSU vs. Wisconsin - August 30, 2014 - 8:00 P.M. Kickoff (ESPN)
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7/28/14 6:10 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

In just six days, the LSU football team will report to fall camp and in one week the team will practice for the first time. I’m looking forward to heading out there to check out the team and give you a report on what I see. As of now, the practice schedule has not been released, but as soon as it is I will post it here. In the meantime, here are a few dates of interest to keep in mind:

Sun., Aug. 3 - LSU reports for pre-season camp
Mon., Aug. 4 - First Day of LSU pre-season practice
Sun., Aug. 10 - LSU Fan Day
TBA - LSU Media Day
Mon., Aug. 25 - First “Lunch with Les” Press Luncheon
Sat., Aug. 30 - Season opener: LSU vs. Wisconsin (Houston, Texas) 

As far as I know, 23 of the 25 members of the 2014 signing class have made it to campus and the staff is still waiting on the two others. The two are defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (6-3, 340, Palm Bay, FL) and offensive lineman Jevonte Domond (6-6, 310, Glendale CC). About two weeks ago, Valentine tweeted that he would be in college the next week, but since then news has been hard to come by. Valentine is a big-time player who has the talent to step in and contribute as a backup right away, and his importance to the team was made more significant when fellow freshman defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (DT, 6-3, 300, San Antonio, TX) injured his arm last week. While Lealaimatafao is expected to fully recover over time, I think its safe to assume that he won’t be ready to play anytime soon. As for Domond, he’s the big JUCO offensive lineman who signed with LSU in early June and was granted immediate eligibility. LSU is pretty stacked in the offensive line this season, with or without Domond, but he is expected to be a big contributor next year when LSU will likely be without four of this season’s five starters.

Speaking of offensive linemen and the 2014 signing class, yesterday a reader shared with me this brief video of freshman Garrette Brumfield squatting an incredible 506 pounds. I’ll go on the record now as saying that Brumfield will be a special offensive lineman before his playing days are over at LSU. In my opinion, he and fellow offensive lineman William Clapp are two members of the 2014 signing class who were overshadowed a bit by the elite skill players in the class (i.e. Leonard Fournette, Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn) but will be huge a huge part of LSU’s quest for a national championship during the next three or four years.

In baseball news, several Tigers participated in the Cape Cod All-Star game last night and represented LSU very well. Coach Mainieri attended the game to support his players and was interviewed during the game. Right on cue, Chris Chinea hit a home run while Mainieri was being interviewed. Kramer Robertson, Conner Hale, Mark Laird and Chinea started for the West team which won 5-0, while Andrew Stevenson work as a reserve outfielder for the East. In addition to Chinea, Hale and Laird also had big nights at the plate. Hale produced two hits and a run, and Laird started the scoring with an RBI single in the third.

Now let’s close out today’s report with our countdown to LSU football’s season opener, which is 33 days away, by remembering a significant year in LSU’s football history, 1933. What makes that year particularly significant is not only that it was LSU’s most successful since 1908, it was also the first year of the Southeastern Conference. (Prior to that, LSU played in the Southern Conference which consisted of 23 teams.) LSU made a statement about being an SEC power from the get-go, ending the season with an undefeated 7-0-3 record. Oddly, two of the Tigers’ three ties came against in-state opponents - Centenary (0-0) and Tulane (7-7). The other tie was against Vanderbilt (7-7). Highlights of that historic season were wins over Arkansas (20-0), South Carolina (31-7), Ole Miss (31-0), and Tennessee (7-0). As you can see by those numbers, LSU was a dominant team on defense. In fact, the team only gave up 27 points all season and held opponents to an average of 2.7 points per game. The most disappointing fact about that season is that despite LSU’s undefeated record, the Tigers ended 3-0-2 in conference play and second in the conference standings behind a one-loss Alabama team (7-1-1) who was 5-0-1 in SEC play.

Reader Comments: Hey Scott, here's a preview of the LSU's season from an outsider's point of view and it makes some very interesting points.

7/27/14 6:05 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Coach Les Miles and his staff concluded its elite football camp yesterday and by all indications it was a big success. As was the case last year, LSU didn’t pickup any commitments during the camp (at least none that have been made public), but I don’t find that concerning or surprising. Usually the benefits of a camp of this magnitude are not immediately seen, at least not from the outside, but if you were to attend the camp and see the level and amount of talent in attendance, for this year’s class and for well beyond, there’s no way you would leave without feeling good about the future of LSU football. 

After extending one offer Friday to 2016 tight end Jamal Pettigrew (6-6, 218, St. Augustine), LSU reportedly extended offers yesterday to 2016 defensive tackle Kendell Jones (6-4.5, 315, Killeen, TX) and JUCO cornerback Justin Martin (6-2, 179, Nashville, TN). Interestingly, I didn’t hear of any new offers being extended to Class of 2015 prep prospects during the camp, although there were a few in-state prospects who I think did enough to see their stock rise and merit closer attention. I mentioned two such players yesterday (D-linemen Jalen Bates of Kaplan and Oshead Dugas of Northside), and another is linebacker Arthur McGinnis (6'2", 225) of Warren Easton who is currently No. 18 on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2015. Look for each of those players to get a closer look throughout the 2014 high school season.

Earlier in the week we took a look at four veteran LSU football players who haven’t received much preseason recognition but should be very significant contributors this year, and today I’ll add another to that group. As a refresher, the first four mentioned were Connor Neighbors, Travin Dural, DeSean Smith and Christian LaCouture. Here we go…

Danielle Hunter

Les Miles turned heads a few months back with a comment he made, saying his defensive end tandem of Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter might be the best he’s ever had. With Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery still fresh in the minds of LSU fans, that was a bold statement. Perhaps Miles’ statement should be taken with a grain of salt, but I would’t call it far-fetched. Last year, Hunter and Rasco combined for 113 tackles and 14 tackles for loss, including seven sacks. That was both players’ first season as starters, so naturally, progression is expected, especially from Hunter who started to get into a groove late into a season. You could see towards the Texas A&M game that he was becoming the player his popping veins and muscular build suggested he would be from day one. The growth he showed during the season was remarkable. In the early goings he seemed timid and unable to shed blockers, but by the end of the year he was frequently in the backfield making a name for himself. Imagine the growth of Hunter after spending a full spring and summer with John Chavis and company. I foresee Hunter as a legitimate All-SEC contender, and if he has the kind of year I think he will, the Tigers’ pass rush defense could match the depth and athleticism of its secondary.

With 34 days remaining until Game Day, today we'll take a look at a special Tiger who played at LSU from 1957-59 and wore No. 34 - Johnny Robinson. Robinson played his high school ball at University High and was part of a hometown trio of running backs on the Tigers’ 1958 team championship team, along with Billy Cannon (Istrouma High) and Warren Rabb (Baton Rouge High). Although he was often overshadowed by Cannon, Robinson was an excellent back in his own right. In the 1958 regular season finale against Tulane, the Tigers needed an impressive win to secure the No. 1 spot in the polls, but the Green Wave was doing a great job of containing Cannon and had held him to 41 yards in the first half. Robinson took up the slack and broke loose for four touchdowns in the second half to help lead the Tigers to a 62-0 shutout. All four of Robinson's touchdowns came on plays of 23 yards or more. For his efforts, Robinson was named SEC Back of the Week. Robinson went on to earn All-SEC honors that year, as did Cannon and Rabb. After graduating from LSU, Robinson was selected in the first round of the 1960 AFL draft by the Dallas Texans who later became the Kansas City Chiefs. In the pro ranks, Robinson switched positions from running back to safety and turned out to be one of the best safeties to ever play the game. He is now a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s AFL All-Time Team and the LSU Sports Hall of Fame.

Interestingly, this year’s No. 34 for the Tigers could find himself in a situation similar to Robinson’s in 1958. I’m referring to running back Darrell Williams, a player I believe will be outstanding in his own right although largely overshadowed by a special running back named Leonard Fournette.

One more note on the countdown to game day: I’d like to thank all of you who answered my request for topic suggestions yesterday. A lot of you suggested that I write about LSU’s 34-18 win over Georgia in the 2003 SEC Championship game, but I decided not to since I had already written about it for number 87 when I featured Justin Vincent’s 87-yard run. Still, I appreciate the suggestions. Keep ’em coming!

In closing, I’d like to point out that I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange, and that LSU still has a limited number of tickets currently on sale to the general public for six of the seven home games in 2014. Please see LSUSports.net for more information on purchasing single game tickets.

Reader Comment: Scott, here’s a writeup on Jarvis Landry to share with your readers. Looks like he has impressed, as we Tiger fans knew he would! Rookie WR Landry off to good start with Dolphins

7/26/14 6:05 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

I headed out to the LSU football camp yesterday morning and left extremely impressed with Louisiana’s talent for the class of 2016. I’ve got to admit, with 600+ players participating at the camp it’s hard to tell who is who, but after observing for a few minutes it’s not hard at all to spot the big-time prospects. Some of them stand out by their performance in the drills - such as Isaiah Graham (6-1, 180, Bastrop) who really put on a show during the 7-on-7 portion – and others standout even without seeing them play, just by their size and mannerisms. Two that fit into that category are LSU commit Ed Alexander (DT, 6-2, 310, St. Thomas Aquinas) who is still rehabbing his knee and did not participate, and offensive lineman Willie Allen (OT, 6-7.5, 300, John Curtis) who introduced himself to me in the parking lot. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Allen in action because I missed the linemen drills. I also didn’t get to see much of running back Devin White (6-0.5, 235, North Webster), but what I did see of him was very impressive and I heard he tore it up on Day 1.

Two more 2016 prospects that really stood out and were interesting to observe working side-by-side were quarterbacks Feliepe Franks and Shea Patterson. Franks (6-5, 205, Crawford, FL) is the dual-threat quarterback who committed to LSU in May. Patterson (6-2 , 195, Calvary Baptist of Shreveport) is the Arizona commit who was recently offered by LSU and whose brother recently left Arizona to take a job with LSU. From what I hear, the chance of Patterson flipping to LSU is extremely high, and if he does, it will be interesting to see whether that affects Frank’s commitment. I enjoyed watching those two quarterbacks (and others) throw the ball, and I especially liked watching Offensive Coordinator Coach Cam Cameron interact with them during the drills. I’ve posted a brief video of Coach Cam coaching up the quarterback prospects during the passing drills. (Franks is the QB on the far right, and Patterson is next to him in the green shorts.) One more tid-bit about those QBs: According to this “bolt” by 247Sports, Coach Cameron used a radar gun to clock all the quarterbacks’ throwing velocity and Franks’ was the highest at 57 mph.

We all know that Louisiana’s 2014 class was something special, but it became clear to me yesterday that the 2016 class is every bit as good or better, and that’s saying a lot.

As for 2015 prospects, LSU defensive back target Donte Jackson (5-11, 175, Riverdale, No. 9 on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2015) looked as good as advertised, maybe better. From what I understand, LSU feels confident about reeling him in, but so does Georgia. In the linemen drills (which I didn’t witness), I hear that LSU commit Adrian Magee (OT, 6-5, 315, Franklinton, No. 6 on our list) was once again very impressive, as were North Carolina commit William Sweet (OT, 6-5, 275, Jacksonville, FL) and Tyler Higby (6-4, 286, Houston). Two in-state 2015 linemen who don’t yet hold an LSU offer but were said to be impressive were Jalen Bates (DE, 6-5, 235, Kaplan, No. 20 on our list) and Oshea Dugas (DT, 6-5, 300, Northside, No. 21 on our list).

As for new offers extended, the only one I’ve heard of was to 2016 tight end Jamal Pettigrew (6-6, 218, St. Augustine) who also was outstanding at the camp. The camp continues through today and I would expect a few more offers to be extended to prospects on their way out.

In other news, Major General (ret.) Ron Richard, head of the Tiger Athletic Foundation (TAF) for the last 13 years, has stepped down from his post and has been replaced by Rick Perry who was serving as the organization’s senior vice president. General Richard did an outstanding job as TAF President and played a huge role in the completion of several big projects during his tenure, including the construction of the Cox Communication Center for Student Athletes and LSU’s Football Operations Center. I know I speak for many of you when I extend a Tiger salute to General Richard and thank him for his service.

We’ll close out today’s update with our countdown to game day in just a bit, but first a couple of tid-bits to pass along:

• Here’s a good article about LSU basketball commit Ben Simmons which states that he is still solid to the Tigers after an explosive summer.

• LSU picked up a 2016 baseball commitment yesterday from Ouachita Christian junior shortstop Jake Slaughter.

With 35 days remaining until LSU kicks off the 2014 football season against Wisconsin, let’s continue our countdown to game day by remembering an interesting win in LSU’s football history - a 35-10 win over Arkansas in 1999. 11 days prior to the game, Coach Gerry DiNardo was fired after dropping a 20-7 decision to the Houston Cougars in Tiger Stadium. LSU entered the game with a 2-8 record and the hot topic of discussion among Tiger Fans was who would be the next coach. Rich Rodriquez, the offensive genius at Tulane in 1998 when the Greenies finished 12-0, was one of the favorites. Mark Richt, the Florida State Offensive Coordinator was another. Tiger fans were in for a big surprise the following week. With all the speculation surrounding who would be the next coach, the Tigers still had to play a game and the Arkansas Razorbacks presented a formidable challenge for the Tigers and interim head coach Hal Hunter. The Hogs entered the game as a 12-point favorite and were primed for a romp. After Arkansas took an early 3-0 lead, LSU backup quarterback Rohan Davey took over for an ineffective Josh Booty and inspired the Tigers. LSU quickly piled on touchdowns, one of which came on a play when fullback Tommy Banks took out two Razorbacks on a block and Domanick Davis scooted into the end-zone. This game was played on national television and demonstrated the potential that LSU offered an incoming coach. The boos that permeated Tiger Stadium earlier in the season were non-existent on this day as the Tigers took back the boot and proved that they had something to build upon for whichever new coach would take the reins. The following week, LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert pulled a coup with the signing of Nick Saban and LSU would enter the new millennium with excitement abounding for the future of LSU football. (I’d like to thank longtime reader Charlie Duncan for helping with this information. If anyone would like to suggest ideas for numbers 34, 33, 30 and 29, please let me know. ) 


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