The college football world will never know just how good Rueben Randle really was, but NFL teams are about to find out real fast.
Randle arrived at LSU in 2009, ranked as the No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the nation. Everyone could tell that this kid was loaded with talent when he arrived in Baton Rouge, but his production was plagued by poor quarterback play throughout his three-year career at LSU.
Randle chose to bolt for the NFL after his junior season, which will leave a huge void in the Tigers' receiving corps this season. But is there anyone capable of replacing Randle in this offense?
Let's break down five candidates who will have a shot at replacing Randle's production in 2012.
Bleacher Report Style!
Odell Beckham Jr. certainly wasn't as highly touted as Randle when he arrived in Baton Rouge, but if I had to pick one guy to replace Randle's production in 2012, it would be Beckham Jr.
This kid had a strong freshman season last year, hauling in 41 catches for 475 yards, both of which ranked second on the team behind Randle. He also added two touchdown receptions on catches of 52 and 51 yards in back-to-back weeks, which lets you know what a home run threat he really is.
Beckham has locked up a starting spot in 2012, and if the Tigers truly do plan to air it out more this upcoming season, Beckham Jr. will be the ultimate beneficiary of that.
A stat line of 50-plus catches for 1,000-plus yards should not be an unrealistic expectation for this talented sophomore wideout.
Russell Shepard has made his case for one of the biggest busts in LSU's rich football history, but he has one last chance to make amends in his final season in Baton Rouge.
Shepard arrived at LSU in 2009 with Randle, and the two formed what many believed would be the top receiving duo in the nation. But Shepard has never lived up to expectations, despite being the top-ranked athlete in the 2009 national recruiting class. He caught just 14 passes for 190 yards last season, which are far from spectacular numbers for a starting wide receiver.
Many have blamed Shepard's lack of production on poor quarterback play and the fact that he has had to play alongside Randle, who was the top option in this LSU passing game. But now, with a new quarterback in town and Randle off to the NFL, this could finally be Shepard's break out year.
The talent is certainly there, so now with everything in place, will Shepard finally live up to the hype?
Only time will tell.
Jarvis Landry was one of the top recruits in the country when he arrived in Baton Rouge last season, but he struggled to crack the lineup, playing behind Randle, Shepard and Beckham.
With Randle gone, this could be Landry's time to shine.
This kid has good height, which makes him an ideal downfield threat, but what makes him stand out is his exceptional route-running ability. Landry has a knack for getting open, and he has an exceptional pair of hands with the ability to hold on to passes in traffic.
Landry caught just four passes for 43 yards last season as a freshman. Don't be surprised to see those numbers skyrocket in 2012.
Kadron Boone was halfway out the door this offseason, but LSU coach Les Miles convinced Boone that a transfer wasn't the answer and that he should stay in Baton Rouge.
Boone had limited playing time in his sophomore season, hauling in just seven catches for 82 yards. He did have two touchdown receptions last year, but they came against Northwestern State and Western Kentucky, the two weakest teams on the Tigers' schedule.
With Randle gone and Shepard a complete wild card, a guy like Boone has the potential to step in and fill that big-play receiver void. Unfortunately, most spring depth charts have listed Boone as a third-string wide receiver, which isn't helping his cause.
Boone made the decision to stay at LSU, and now it is time for him to step up and produce.
Reports out of LSU's spring camp are that the Tigers are expecting big things from wide receiver James Wright in 2012.
Wright didn't see the field much in his first two years on campus, but now, entering his junior season, it looks like this big-play threat could be ready to take the next step.
Standing at 6'2", 200 pounds, Wright has great size, and now with Randle gone, he is the only "big wide receiver" on this LSU roster. If the Tigers are searching for a guy to stretch the field with his size and be a downfield threat, that guy should be Wright.
Don't expect Wright to "wow" anyone with his numbers in 2012, but 20-plus catches and 400-plus yards shouldn't be out of the question for this reliable wide receiver target.