7/29/16 5:50 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
With just six days until the start of LSU preseason football practice, today we’ll begin looking at six incoming freshmen we’re really looking forward to seeing in purple and gold. Then we’ll get you up to speed on the latest relevant news before closing out with our Countdown to Game Day. Here we go…
Six Incoming Freshmen We’re Most Looking Forward to Seeing in Purple and Gold – Part 1 of 2
This 6-4, 347-pound freshman offensive guard from Ponchatoula has the size and potential to play as a freshman. As Mike Detillier pointed out in a recent Q&A on this site, Campbell is a force in run blocking, driving his opponents off the ball and physically moving them down the field. Because of his ability to do so, he could join Ethan Pocic, Maea Teuhema and Toby Weathersby as current Tiger offensive linemen who have played under Les Miles as freshmen. Of course, in order to do so, Campbell is going to have his work cut out for him with all three of those linemen returning as well as fellow guards Josh Boutte and K.J. Malone who gained valuable experience last season. Whether or not Campbell gets time in the limelight this season, his future as a Tiger is very bright.
With Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural and D.J. Chark returning, not to mention Tyron Johnson and Jazz Ferguson, it will take a special kind of freshman to see the field at wide receiver in purple and gold this season. That, however, is just the type of player many expect Drake Davis to be. Heralded for his leaping ability, speed and athleticism (I encourage Tiger fans to check out his dunk highlights here) at IMG Academy, Davis was a 4-star recruit with offers from all over the country. Unfortunately for the 6-4, 215-pound receiver, he was still finishing up school while fellow freshmen receivers Dee Anderson and Stephen Sullivan were gaining a valuable advantage this spring as early enrollees. Anderson and Sullivan were very impressive, so if Drake wants to make an instant splash, he’ll need to get off to a fast start in fall camp. Judging from his senior football highlights, Davis is well suited for anything dealing with the word fast. If Davis is unable to see the field as wide receiver, don’t be surprised to see his speed and athleticism put to use on special teams.
If Rahssan Thornton’s first week of practice is anything like fellow freshman Devin White’s was in the spring, the Tigers’ 2016 linebacker class could be a lot fiercer than first perceived. Listed at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Thornton has speed going for him more so than size. Fortunately for Thornton, LSU’s new 3-4 defensive scheme under Dave Aranda and the fact that the Tigers are still somewhat thin at linebacker should give him an opportunity for early playing time. Of course, the freshman linebacker who is most likely to receive significant playing time this season is White because of the waves he’s made in the spring. In fact, Coach Miles said recently that White will play in every game. Still, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Thornton on the field at times this year adding quality depth to the Tigers’ linebacker corps.
Now for a few newsy items before moving on to our Countdown to Game Day:
For the second time in three years, LSU running back Leonard Fournette has won the Corbett Award, presented annually to the most outstanding amateur male and female athletes in the state of Louisiana. Fournette claimed his first Corbett Award following his senior season at St. Augustine High School as he wrapped up one of the most decorated prep football careers in Louisiana history. Now two years later, Fournette becomes the first two-time winner of the male Corbett Award since Shaquille O’Neal won in back-to-back years in 1991 and 1992. Fournette, O’Neal and Pete Maravich are the only two-time male winners in Corbett Award history.
AthlonSports has published its ranking of SEC running back tandems for 2016 and has LSU’s tandem of Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice as No. 2. Their top-ranked tandem is Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Just as I disagreed with their ranking of Les Miles as the 25th best collegiate coach, I also disagree with this ranking as I think LSU’s duo is deserving of the No. 1 spot. Of course, I recognize that I might just be a little biased ;).
Now, with 36 days remaining until LSU’s season opener vs Wisconsin at Lambeau Field on September 3rd, let’s continue our countdown by looking back on the history of LSU's live Bengal tiger mascot, which began in 1936. Collecting 25 cents from each student, LSU purchased its first Bengal tiger for $750 from the Little Rock zoo. Born on October 10, 1935, the new mascot was originally named Sheik after his father. He was renamed to Mike after LSU's popular athletic trainer Mike Chambers and arrived on campus October 21, 1936. LSU’s first tiger mascot was even once kidnapped by Tulane fans in 1950 on the eve of their annual game, which ended in a 14-14 tie. You can read more on that in this interesting article that was published a few years ago. After 20 years as LSU’s mascot, Mike I died in 1956 from kidney disease. Students quickly funded the purchase of Mike II, who was born 2/28/56 and was unveiled on campus on September 29, 1956. While some say Mike II died of pneumonia at just eight months of age and was secretly replaced by a second Bengal tiger, the LSU media guide states he died of pneumonia in the spring of 1958. Mike III (1958-1976), Mike IV (1976-1990) and Mike V (1990-2007) followed as LSU’s live mascots, and all witnessed varying degrees of success, ranging from National Championship seasons (1958, 2003) and SEC Championship seasons (1958, 1961, 1970, 1986, 1988, 2001, 2003) to losing seasons (1975, 1981, 1983, 1989-1994, 1998-1999). Perhaps Mike VI, who arrived in Baton Rouge from the Great Cats of Indiana on August 25, 2007, has been the most successful mascot, reigning for one National Championship (2007), two SEC Championships (2007, 2011) and five double-digit win seasons in his nine years (2007, 2010-2013). Unfortunately, Mike VI was recently diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma, a form of cancer. It's estimated that with treatment, he'll live 1-2 more years. I know I speak for all Tiger fans everywhere when I wish Mike VI nothing but the best.
One last tidbit: Former LSU pitcher extraordinaire Anthony Ranaudo collected his first hit since his high school days on Wednesday and he did it in style. His home run was the first for a White Sox pitcher in seven years, and you can check it out here.