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LSU vs. Wisconsin at Lambeau Field - September 3rd, 2:30PM
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6/25/16 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

We’ll start today’s daily dose with a little disappointing news on the baseball front regarding LSU pitcher Jake Latz. After signing with LSU as part of its top-ranked 2014 class and being sidelined for nearly two years because of a persistent elbow injury that delayed his LSU debut until April of this year, Latz has now decided to transfer. LSU announced the news in a press release last night, quoting Coach Mainieri as saying he was surprised to learn of Latz’s decision. No reason for his departure was revealed, nor was his future destination. You might recall that Latz was drafted in the 11th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014 and turned down a reported signing bonus of about $900,000 to attend LSU, and it’s really sad that things didn’t work out for him as a Tiger. It’s also a big loss to LSU, as Latz is the fourth player, and the third pitcher, from that highly-heralded class to leave the school. In a surprise move, pitcher Mac Marshall left for JUCO shortly after signing and then Jake Godfrey left after his freshman season. Infielder Grayson Byrd also transferred after one year with the Tigers. After showing great potential in his limited action this season, Latz was expected to vie for a role as one of LSU’s three weekend starters next season. When you couple that with the loss of Riley Smith to the pros this year, the outlook for LSU’s pitching staff next year doesn’t look nearly as strong as it did a couple of weeks ago, and it could take a bigger hit should junior Jared Poché decide to go pro. Poché was drafted in the 14th round by San Diego and has until July 15 to sign with the Padres. 

In football recruiting news, LSU picked up its 13th commitment for 2017 yesterday when wide receiver Mannie Netherly (6-2, 183) of Crosby, Texas, gave his verbal pledge to the Tigers. Netherly is the young man who at one time was pledged to Texas A&M but then de-committed after Aggie wide receiver coach Aaron Moorehead made some remarks on Twitter that Netherly interpreted as disrespectful to former Aggie QB commit Tate Marshall and all players going through the recruitment process. Now, the four-star wide receiver has chosen LSU over offers from Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma and several other major programs, giving LSU two outstanding receivers in this class. The other is fellow four-star prospect Stephen Guidry, the No. 1 ranked JUCO wide receiver in the country. To see what makes Netherly such a highly-regarded prospect, check out his athletic moves and impressive speed in these video highlights. With his pledge, LSU’s 2017 class is currently ranked No. 6 in 247Sports’ team rankings

Sticking to the topic of football… while serving as a camp counselor at the Manning Passing Academy, LSU quarterback Brandon Harris made a couple of comments yesterday that have received a lot of media attention. “I really do feel like I have the best arm in college football, and I feel like I have the best team in college football,” the junior quarterback reportedly told media members covering the event. Naturally, comments like those turn heads and get people talking. My take? Well, I’m reminded of something my father used to say, “Confidence is 80% of the game.” I agree with that saying and value confidence, especially in a quarterback, although I think confidence is always best when coupled with humility. Today, at 46 years of age, I feel like those kinds of statements are better quietly proven with action rather than spoken publicly, though I might not have felt that way 25 years ago. Still, it’s good to know that Harris believes in himself and his Tiger teammates. Another interesting comment came when Harris was asked which newcomer has impressed him the most. According to Ross Dellenger of The Advocate, the first name out of Harris’ mouth was Drake Davis. You might recall that the 6-foot-4, 215-pound wide receiver out of IMG Academy garnered a lot of attention in May when he posted a video of himself making insane dunks on the basketball court, and then again earlier this month when he ran a blazing 4.38 40-yard dash at LSU. I think it’s safe to say Davis is one young Tiger who will be a lot of fun to watch the next three or four years.

Now let's move on with our countdown to LSU’s season opener against Wisconsin, which is 70 days away, by looking at two great LSU offensive linemen who wore No. 70 – Ciron Black and La’el Collins. Both men decided to return to LSU for their senior seasons with expectations of being high first round picks, only to see things take a drastically unexpected turn. Black played at LSU from 2005-2009 and was part of the 2007 Championship team. At the end of his junior season, Black was projected to be a first-round NFL pick, but he decided to return to LSU to get his degree and benefit his team. I greatly admire his decision, but it ended up being a costly one as he suffered a knee injury in the November 7th game against Alabama. The injury proved to be severe enough to keep him out of the pro ranks. Likewise, in 2014, La’el Collins decided to return to LSU for his senior season with hopes of being a high first-round draft pick in the 2015 draft, and up until the week of the draft, it appeared that things would go as planned. Of course, that’s when the tragic murder of his former girlfriend, Brittney Mills, and her unborn son threw his world into a tailspin. Because Collins was wanted for questioning in the murder investigation (although he was never officially deemed a suspect), teams were fearful to take a chance on him and he went undrafted. As most of you know, Collins ended up striking a free-agency deal with the Dallas Cowboys worth a fully guaranteed $1.7 million, but that pales in comparison to the $13 million deal he was expecting as a first round pick. Of course, the biggest tragedy in all of this often gets overlooked. That is, two innocent lives were lost and the murderer responsible for the tragedy is still at large. Collins did have a very successful rookie season, starting 11 games for the Cowboys and earning a starting position. To recall what a force Collins was as a Tiger, you can checkout these video highlights from his draft profile.

Stay tuned as tomorrow we’ll continue this countdown and I’ll also give you my brief thoughts on LSU football’s 2016 special teams since I didn’t include that unit in our position rankings earlier this week.

I’ll close out today’s update on a personal note: Recently I asked for your prayers for my Aunt Rose Long who underwent brain surgery and then my Uncle Berk Ardoin (my Parrain) who underwent bypass surgery. Many of you have asked for an update on their conditions, so I thought I’d give you one now. I’m happy to say that Aunt Rose’s surgery was a success, though her battle is far from over. As for Parrain, his surgery appeared successful at first, but he’s since learned that infection remains in his bones and things are not looking good. By the time most of you are reading this, I’ll be on my way to see him in Baton Rouge. I ask that you please continue to keep both of them, as well as their families, in your prayers.


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6/25/16 5:50 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

We’ll start today’s daily dose with a little disappointing news on the baseball front regarding LSU pitcher Jake Latz. After signing with LSU as part of its top-ranked 2014 class and being sidelined for nearly two years because of a persistent elbow injury that delayed his LSU debut until April of this year, Latz has now decided to transfer. LSU announced the news in a press release last night, quoting Coach Mainieri as saying he was surprised to learn of Latz’s decision. No reason for his departure was revealed, nor was his future destination. You might recall that Latz was drafted in the 11th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014 and turned down a reported signing bonus of about $900,000 to attend LSU, and it’s really sad that things didn’t work out for him as a Tiger. It’s also a big loss to LSU, as Latz is the fourth player, and the third pitcher, from that highly-heralded class to leave the school. In a surprise move, pitcher Mac Marshall left for JUCO shortly after signing and then Jake Godfrey left after his freshman season. Infielder Grayson Byrd also transferred after one year with the Tigers. After showing great potential in his limited action this season, Latz was expected to vie for a role as one of LSU’s three weekend starters next season. When you couple that with the loss of Riley Smith to the pros this year, the outlook for LSU’s pitching staff next year doesn’t look nearly as strong as it did a couple of weeks ago, and it could take a bigger hit should junior Jared Poché decide to go pro. Poché was drafted in the 14th round by San Diego and has until July 15 to sign with the Padres. 

In football recruiting news, LSU picked up its 13th commitment for 2017 yesterday when wide receiver Mannie Netherly (6-2, 183) of Crosby, Texas, gave his verbal pledge to the Tigers. Netherly is the young man who at one time was pledged to Texas A&M but then de-committed after Aggie wide receiver coach Aaron Moorehead made some remarks on Twitter that Netherly interpreted as disrespectful to former Aggie QB commit Tate Marshall and all players going through the recruitment process. Now, the four-star wide receiver has chosen LSU over offers from Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma and several other major programs, giving LSU two outstanding receivers in this class. The other is fellow four-star prospect Stephen Guidry, the No. 1 ranked JUCO wide receiver in the country. To see what makes Netherly such a highly-regarded prospect, check out his athletic moves and impressive speed in these video highlights. With his pledge, LSU’s 2017 class is currently ranked No. 6 in 247Sports’ team rankings

Sticking to the topic of football… while serving as a camp counselor at the Manning Passing Academy, LSU quarterback Brandon Harris made a couple of comments yesterday that have received a lot of media attention. “I really do feel like I have the best arm in college football, and I feel like I have the best team in college football,” the junior quarterback reportedly told media members covering the event. Naturally, comments like those turn heads and get people talking. My take? Well, I’m reminded of something my father used to say, “Confidence is 80% of the game.” I agree with that saying and value confidence, especially in a quarterback, although I think confidence is always best when coupled with humility. Today, at 46 years of age, I feel like those kinds of statements are better quietly proven with action rather than spoken publicly, though I might not have felt that way 25 years ago. Still, it’s good to know that Harris believes in himself and his Tiger teammates. Another interesting comment came when Harris was asked which newcomer has impressed him the most. According to Ross Dellenger of The Advocate, the first name out of Harris’ mouth was Drake Davis. You might recall that the 6-foot-4, 215-pound wide receiver out of IMG Academy garnered a lot of attention in May when he posted a video of himself making insane dunks on the basketball court, and then again earlier this month when he ran a blazing 4.38 40-yard dash at LSU. I think it’s safe to say Davis is one young Tiger who will be a lot of fun to watch the next three or four years.

Now let's move on with our countdown to LSU’s season opener against Wisconsin, which is 70 days away, by looking at two great LSU offensive linemen who wore No. 70 – Ciron Black and La’el Collins. Both men decided to return to LSU for their senior seasons with expectations of being high first round picks, only to see things take a drastically unexpected turn. Black played at LSU from 2005-2009 and was part of the 2007 Championship team. At the end of his junior season, Black was projected to be a first-round NFL pick, but he decided to return to LSU to get his degree and benefit his team. I greatly admire his decision, but it ended up being a costly one as he suffered a knee injury in the November 7th game against Alabama. The injury proved to be severe enough to keep him out of the pro ranks. Likewise, in 2014, La’el Collins decided to return to LSU for his senior season with hopes of being a high first-round draft pick in the 2015 draft, and up until the week of the draft, it appeared that things would go as planned. Of course, that’s when the tragic murder of his former girlfriend, Brittney Mills, and her unborn son threw his world into a tailspin. Because Collins was wanted for questioning in the murder investigation (although he was never officially deemed a suspect), teams were fearful to take a chance on him and he went undrafted. As most of you know, Collins ended up striking a free-agency deal with the Dallas Cowboys worth a fully guaranteed $1.7 million, but that pales in comparison to the $13 million deal he was expecting as a first round pick. Of course, the biggest tragedy in all of this often gets overlooked. That is, two innocent lives were lost and the murderer responsible for the tragedy is still at large. Collins did have a very successful rookie season, starting 11 games for the Cowboys and earning a starting position. To recall what a force Collins was as a Tiger, you can checkout these video highlights from his draft profile.

Stay tuned as tomorrow we’ll continue this countdown and I’ll also give you my brief thoughts on LSU football’s 2016 special teams since I didn’t include that unit in our position rankings earlier this week.

I’ll close out today’s update on a personal note: Recently I asked for your prayers for my Aunt Rose Long who underwent brain surgery and then my Uncle Berk Ardoin (my Parrain) who underwent bypass surgery. Many of you have asked for an update on their conditions, so I thought I’d give you one now. I’m happy to say that Aunt Rose’s surgery was a success, though her battle is far from over. As for Parrain, his surgery appeared successful at first, but he’s since learned that infection remains in his bones and things are not looking good. By the time most of you are reading this, I’ll be on my way to see him in Baton Rouge. I ask that you please continue to keep both of them, as well as their families, in your prayers.

6/24/16 5:45 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

First of all, big congratulations to Ben Simmons for being selected by the Philadelphia 76ers as the No. 1 pick in last night’s NBA draft. As the top pick in the draft, the LSU All-American point-forward from Down Under became the eighth LSU athlete to be picked No. 1 in any of the major professional leagues, and, of course, also became an extraordinarily rich young man. According to ESPN Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell, Simmons’ four-year contract, if options are picked up, is worth $26,620,450. That’s not a bad chunk of change, especially when you consider it’s on top of his recently penned deal with Nike worth about $20 million. 

As Tiger fans, I hope you’ll join me in wishing Ben Simmons the very best. I know things didn’t work out for LSU as many expected it would during his brief stint, but that wasn’t Simmons’ fault. The young man was a class act while at LSU, drawing praise from everyone who dealt with him personally, including coaches and teammates. On the court, he averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game and was the first player to ever finish in the top five in the Southeastern Conference in points, rebounds, and assists. You just can’t ask for much more than that from an individual. ESPN’s Jay Bilas posted the following on Twitter that kind of puts those stats in perspective. “Ben Simmons averaged more points than John Wall, more rebounds than Kevin Love and more assists than Steph Curry. He's pretty damn good.” As true as that is, Simmons will have his hands full trying to help rebuild a 76ers team that needs all the help it can get. Here’s hoping he can do just that and have a long and prosperous NBA career.

As for Tim Quarterman, he did not hear his name called. I really wish he would have stayed for his senior year, as I think it would have benefited both him and the Tigers. Nonetheless, I wish him nothing but the best wherever his future should lead him.

Turning to baseball, some unfortunate news broke yesterday when LSU infielder O’Neal Lochridge announced that he will not be on the Tigers’ roster next year. Lochridge began the 2016 season as LSU’s starting third baseman before suffering a flare-up of an old back injury – a stress fracture – that caused him to miss the remainder of the season. The word is that his injury will eventually heal, but that it needs lots of time, therefore he will not return to the team this fall. In his absence this past season, fellow freshman Chris Reid stepped in and did a fine job, but I sure was hoping to have Lochridge’s bat back in the lineup next year. In his limited action as a Tiger, Lochridge hit two home runs in only 35 at-bats, giving him the team’s third-highest slugging percentage (.486) behind only Jordan Romero (.545) and Greg Deichmann (.513).

In other baseball news, LSU pitcher Alex Lange will begin training on Monday with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in Los Angeles. Lange is a member of the 24-man USA squad that will compete against teams in the California Collegiate League next week before embarking on trips to Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Cuba for the International Friendship Series from July 5 - 26. Team USA will face Chinese Taipei on July 5-9, Japan on July 12-17 and Cuba on July 23-27. This is quite an honor and is sure to be quite an experience for the right-hander from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and I couldn’t be happier for him. Lange is the fifth LSU player during Mainieri’s 10-year tenure to play for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. The others are catcher Micah Gibbs (2008), outfielder Mikie Mahtook (2010), pitcher Kevin Gausman (2011) and shortstop Alex Bregman (2013 and 2014).  

Moving on, it’s time to wrap up our ongoing series in which we rank the LSU football team’s seven position groups. Those of you who have been following along should know by process of elimination which position we rank supreme, and even if you’re just tuning in it shouldn’t be hard to guess. Of course, it’s LSU’s running backs led by Heisman hopeful Leonard Fournette. Let’s jump right to it…

Ranking the 2016 LSU football team’s seven position groups:

1. Running Back

A Heisman favorite along with a man who some refer to as the “human pinball machine” head up yet another stable of impressive LSU running backs. Leonard Fournette is  essentially an NFL running back that’s having to play another year of college ball, and LSU fans are thrilled they get to have the 6-1, 230-pound bruising back for another season. In just two years at LSU, Fournette has already become the fourth-leading rusher in school history with 2,987 yards. In fact, he became the fastest player to reach 2,000 yards in school history and will become the fastest player in LSU history to reach 3,000 yards when he does so this September against Wisconsin.  As for his counterpart, Derrius Guice could easily be the Tigers’ breakthrough performer in 2016 although his freshman campaign a year ago was certainly a nice introduction to fans. Guice is elusive and runs with as much conviction and determination as anyone I’ve ever seen. He’s added a little weight to his muscular frame this offseason, which should make him that much more difficult to bring down.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better one-two punch than Fournette and Guice in all of college football, but the Tigers’ talent at running back doesn’t stop there. Darrell Williams is a load behind those two electrifying backs, and behind him is recovering high school All-American Nick Brossette who as a senior at University High set the Louisiana record for the most rushing touchdowns in a four-year span with 141.

Of course, you can’t just recognize the halfbacks when looking at LSU’s backfield. After all, this is LSU, where fullback play is especially important. The Tigers return three capable starters in John David Moore, Bry’Keithon Mouton, and David Ducre. Mouton acquired a tremendous amount of experience a year ago when Moore suffered a leg injury, and Ducre turned heads this spring with his strength and athleticism. No matter who’s paving the way for LSU’s tailbacks, the Tigers’ running game should be as strong as ever in 2016.

Now let's continue our countdown to the start of football season by looking at an excellent offensive lineman who wore No. 71 from 2002-2005 – Nate Livings. A Lake Charles native who attended Washington-Marion High School, Livings was a three-year starter who played in 38 games and started 34 during his career. Despite suffering a knee injury as a sophomore, Nate was able to start 10 games in LSU’s 2003 National Championship season, recording 64 knockdowns, allowing zero sacks and committing just four penalties on the season. As a junior and senior, Livings showed his versatility by starting eight games at right tackle, three at right guard, 12 at left guard and one at left tackle. During LSU’s 11-2 season in 2005, Livings showed his durability and dependability by playing every offensive snap in six of LSU’s contests, recording 109 knockdowns and being called for only one penalty all year long. During his three years as a starter, LSU compiled a remarkable record of 33-6 (.846). Despite not getting drafted, Livings was able to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals as an unrestricted free agent in 2006. After persevering on the practice squad for two seasons, Livings became a starter in the eleventh game of his third season with the Bengals (2008) and remained a starter through 2011. After starting every game for the Dallas Cowboys in 2012, Livings suffered a knee injury before the start of the 2013 season and was released on September 5th of that year. 

One recruiting tidbit in closing: JUCO defensive end and LSU target Isaiah Buggs tweeted yesterday that he will be committing soon. From what I’m hearing, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t choose LSU. Buggs (6-5, 280) is the No. 1 JUCO defensive end in the country and is the type of player who would come in and contribute immediately.

6/23/16 5:55 am CST

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

First, it was great hearing from so many of you yesterday. I asked for your thoughts on things to see and do while on vacation in San Antonio, and you were very generous with your recommendations. My family and I appreciate all the suggestions and look forward to trying several of them next week. 

Another thing I heard from many of you about was Athlon Sports’ coaches rankings. While most of you agreed that Coach Miles should have been ranked much higher, several of you said that his No. 25 ranking was just about right. The justification went something like this: He’s a great recruiter and hires great assistants, but he is not a great coach. My response: Being a great recruiter and hiring great coaches, not to mention running a very successful program, are in fact among the very things that make Miles a special coach. In other words, there’s a lot more to being a head coach than game day coaching. For what it’s worth, CBS Sports released their own rankings of the Top 25 Power 5 Coaches Entering 2016 and pegged Miles at No. 7. In their write-up, they state, “While the last two years have not been up to the standards Miles has helped set at LSU, he's still ranked this high because he does still have that national championship and two SEC titles under his belt.” 

One thing is for certain: With all the talent LSU has returning, Miles has a golden opportunity to quiet the naysayers this year with a title run. Of course, that’s much easier said than done, especially when you consider that the 2016 LSU football schedule features nine teams listed in ESPN’s Top 50 Power Index. By the way, LSU sits at No. 2 in the index, right between Florida State at No. 1 and Oklahoma at No. 3.

Part of the reason expectations are so high for the Tigers this year is that they return so many talented, experienced starters. In today’s report, we’ll look at a position on the team that returns more talent than any other as we continue our ranking of LSU’s seven position groups. In case you missed the first five installments of this series, you can find them here.

Ranking the 2016 LSU football team’s seven position groups:

2. Secondary

One could argue this is the deepest LSU has been at defensive back since 2011. The Tigers return multiple starters in cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Kevin Toliver and safeties Jamal Adams and Rickey Jefferson. Backups Donte Jackson, Dwayne Thomas, John Battle and even Ed Paris have received a good amount of playing time. And it’s not just experience that makes this group exceptionally strong. White and Adams should contend for All-American status by the end of the season, while Toliver and Jackson were superb in spots as freshmen last season. On top of that, the Tigers added another great defensive back class in 2016 with the likes of five-stars Kristian Fulton and Saivion Smith and four-stars Eric Monroe and Cameron Lewis. This group has a lot to prove since LSU’s DBU moniker was brought into question last season when the Tigers finished 12th in the SEC in pass defense, but there’s no doubt that this secondary is as talented as any in the country, and perhaps as talented as LSU has ever had. 

Sticking to the topic of football, let’s continue our countdown to LSU’s season-opener against Wisconsin on September 3rd. Considering where we are in the countdown – 72 days – it seems only appropriate that our topic for today’s countdown is All-American D-lineman Glen Dorsey who wore No. 72 for LSU. Dorsey, originally from Gonzales, played his prep ball at East Ascension and was widely regarded as the top player in the state out of high school. The 6-1, 295-pound defensive tackle played for LSU from 2004 to 2007, and on his first snap as a Tiger he recovered a fumble against Oregon State. That would be the first of countless big plays for Dorsey who went on to become the most decorated defender in school history by winning four national awards – the Lombardi Award, the Outland Trophy, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Lott Trophy. Dorsey was also named SEC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Tigers to the 2007 National Championship as a senior, despite playing much of the season with knee and tailbone injuries. Dorsey was projected to be a first-round draft pick following his junior season, but opted to return to LSU for his senior year and was taken as the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 2008 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs and signed a five-year contract worth $51 million with $23 million guaranteed. That’s what I call making the right decision. Dorsey never quite fulfilled his potential at Kansas City, and in March of 2013 he signed a two-year deal with San Francisco. He remains with the 49ers today, but on November 25, 2015, Dorsey tore his ACL, ending his season. He is expected to make a full recovery and play again in 2016. On a personal note, according to his Twitter account, Glenn was just recently married. For a reminder of what a special talent he was at LSU, check out Dorsey's highlights video in our Media Gallery.

In basketball news, the NBA draft gets underway from the Barclay Center in Brooklyn at 7 p.m. CT. The event will be televised nationally by ESPN and streamed live on WatchESPN. As you know well, it should be a very big day for LSU’s Ben Simmons as he’s expected to become the only Tiger other than Shaquille O’Neal in 1992 to be taken as the No. 1 pick in the draft. But let’s not forget that there’s another Tiger, Tim Quarterman, who will be hoping to hear his name called early. Quarterman signed with an agent after the season and is hoping to hear his name called in the second round after working out for more than 15 teams in the recent weeks. Here’s hoping both of these Tigers’ dreams come true tonight.

I”ll leave you today with this hype video that’s sure to give you the envie for fall. It’s by LesMiles.net and it’s called “Countdown to Saturday.” In it, the Tigers say they coming and are gonna take it all!

 

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