It's always interesting to look back and see how top recruits ended up doing in college. Were they really good as advertised or were they complete busts?
With quite a few LSU players leaving early for the NFL draft, one of the players that caught my eye was wide receiver Rueben Randle. When he committed to the Tigers, he was rated as the No. 1 wide receiver in the 2008 class by many recruiting sites. He has great size at 6'4, 208 pounds, very athletic and could go up and get the ball with the best of them. His potential was endless.
The problem is that Randle is still capable of being that wide receiver, but the Tigers quarterbacks really hurt his production.
For the last three seasons, Randle has had to deal with a quarterback combination that includes Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson. Both quarterbacks have had a season where they threw more interceptions than touchdowns and they both have a completion percentage of less than 60 percent for their career.
Then you factor in that the Tigers simply don't like throwing the football. In 2009, when Randle was a freshman, they threw the ball 336 and ran it 435 times. In 2010 it got even worse as the ratio was running the ball 538 times to throwing it 301 times. And ironically it was worse this season, when Randle had his best year, as they ran the ball 591 times compared to putting the ball in the air only 279 times.
With the quarterbacks they've had on this roster, it's easy to understand why they wouldn't want to throw the football. But when you have a talent such as Randle, wouldn't you want to take advantage of that?
Again, this was the No. 1 receiver coming into college, with potential through the roof. It's hard to show that potential and fulfill that talent when your quarterback can't make the throws, or if your team refuses to throw the football at all.
Randle finished his three-year career with 97 receptions for 1,634 yards and 13 touchdowns—good numbers when you consider how many times the ball actually got thrown his way. He also averaged over 15 yards per reception every season.
However, Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon had better numbers his sophomore and junior years alone. Could Randle have been as good as Blackmon? I'm afraid we'll never know, as far as college football goes.
The Tigers may have had one of the most productive wide receivers and they'll never know because of their lousy quarterback play.
LSU finally has two solid quarterbacks that can actually throw the football in Zach Mettenberger and Gunner Kiel. Hopefully that helps fix the problem that has haunted their receivers for so long.
Randle is still ranked inside the top 10 in wide receivers for this year's draft class. Scouts and teams know the potential this kid has, but he's still going to be a second- or even third-round pick because of his lack of production at the college level.
And it's not his fault.
Randy Chambers is a B/R featured columnist that covers college football and the NFL. You can contact him @Randy_Chambers or Randy.Chambers7@yahoo.com.
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