We recently broke down the top 10 LSU Tigers entering the 2012 season, and those players will be key to this team's success this year.
Cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was ranked fairly high on the list because he is the playmaker on that side of the ball. He is the go-to guy and somebody who can change the momentum of the game. With so many defensive players leaving from last season, he will be expected to build on last year's success and help lead this football team through another tough SEC schedule.
Last season, the Honey Badger had a season for the record books, and he really solidified himself as an LSU great.
But as of right now, where would he rank all-time?
Entering Mathieu's junior season, here is where he currently sits among the LSU Tigers' top 20 players of all-time.
Tommy Hodson was the first great quarterback in LSU history, and many would still consider him the greatest. He played for seasons in the 1980s and is the first SEC quarterback to throw for over 8,000 yards and over 60 touchdowns. He also led the Tigers to an SEC title his freshman year and junior year.
Hodson threw for over 2,000 yards in all four seasons of his career and is the only LSU player to be named All-SEC member four times. He helped lead the Tigers to several victories over ranked teams throughout his career and is easily a top-20 player in the history of this program.
Wendell Davis is one of the top receivers in LSU history. He played from 1984-1987 and was an All-American and All-SEC player in the 1987 season. In 1986, Davis helped the Tigers win their ninth SEC title in program history, hauling in 80 passes for 1,244 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
Davis still remains second all-time in LSU history in receiving yards with 2,708.
Anthony McFarland helped change the culture for LSU, as he arrived on campus when the Tigers were struggling mightily over the years. He brought that toughness and leadership attitude to the field and earned All-American honors and All-SEC in 1998. He finished his career with 17 sacks, which ranked sixth all-time in LSU history.
He was a big reason the Tigers knocked off undefeated and No. 1 ranked Florida in 1997. The Gators then later went on to lose to the Georgia Bulldogs and had to settle for the Citrus Bowl. McFarland was also inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame in 2009.
LSU currently has one of the best backfields in the country, but back in the late 70s, it was all about running back Charles Alexander. He was a first-team All-American and All-SEC his junior and senior seasons. He finished his four-year career with 4,035 rushing yards and 42 total touchdowns.
Alexander set 27 LSU rushing records, which some still stand today, such as most rushing yards in a season (1,686) and most rushing attempts in a game. (43) The former LSU running back also finished in the top 10 during the Heisman voting in 1978 and 1979.
Before Jerry Stovall became a head coach for the Tigers for five seasons, he was a very solid running back for the team in the early 1960s. He was an All-American in 1962 and finished second in the Heisman voting that season behind Oregon State's Terry Baker.
Stovall finished his three-year career with 1,081 rushing yards and 452 receiving yards. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Alan Faneca was just as good in college as he is in the NFL today. He was the All-SEC freshman of the year in 1994, an All-American in 1996 and a first-team All-American in 1997. He was also the first LSU player to be a finalist for the Outland Trophy.
Faneca started 36 games throughout his career, allowed only one sack his final season and finished his career with 210 pancake blocks. He was as solid as an offensive lineman you are going to find at the collegiate level.
I know the type of impact Tyrann Mathieu has had on this team the last couple of seasons; I would just like to see how he does in the 2012 season before we begin putting him higher on this list. The Honey Badger was a Heisman finalist last season, doing nearly everything for this football team. Last season, he racked up 76 tackles, two interceptions and six forced fumbles while also being a force on special teams.
Mathieu is without question one of the top playmakers in college football, and having him as a top 20 player in the LSU history already speaks volumes. Although the Tigers have tons of legendary talent, so it will take another monster season from the cornerback to continue to move up this list and potentially crack the top 10.
Patrick Peterson was the definition of a shutdown corner at LSU and should have received more Heisman consideration than he did in 2010. Peterson finished his three-year career with seven interceptions, 135 tackles, 29 passes defended and that doesn't include the work he put in on special teams (424 punt return yards and two touchdowns).
In 2010, he was first-team All-SEC, won the Thorpe Award, Bednarik Award and was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
There simply aren't many corners that are as talented as this guy is.
Bradie James is only one of two players in LSU history to surpass 400 tackles throughout a career. He is also the first Tiger ever to reach the 150 tackle mark in a season, something he did his senior year in 2002. James made the second team All-SEC his freshman year and became the first LSU player to be named to consecutive first-team All-SEC since Warren Capone in the early 70s.
He was a leader on and off the field and is considered one of the best linebackers to play for LSU.
The Tigers knew LaRon Landry was going to be a special player from day one, which is why he started 10 games as a true freshman in 2003. He ended up being named to the All-SEC second-team and All-Freshman SEC team, as the Tigers won the national championship that season.
He was named an All-American in 2006, was named to three All-SEC teams and racked up over 300 tackles and 12 interceptions throughout his career (which is the third-most interceptions in LSU history). Landry is considered a top defensive player in LSU history and arguably the top safety for the Tigers ever.
There are only eight players in LSU history that have been named All-Americans twice in their career; linebacker Warren Capone is one of them. He is also a two-time All-SEC selection. Capone played in the early 1970s and helped lead the Tigers to three bowl games.
He is widely considered to be the best linebacker in school history and was inducted into the LSU Hall of Fame in 1988.
When you think of a tackling machine, linebacker Al Richardson was it. During the 1980s, Richardson became the all-time tackler's leader for this team, racking up a jaw-dropping 452 tackles, a record that stands today. He also holds the single-game record with 21 tackles.
I think those numbers are worthy of putting him pretty high on this list.
Corey Webster was recruited as a wide receiver, but was asked by head coach Nick Saban to play cornerback. It's a good thing he accepted the challenge, because he is one of the top corners to play for this program.
Webster holds the school record with 49 passes defended; he also tied a school record with three interceptions in a game against Florida in 2002. He is second all-time in school history with 16 career interceptions.
He was a key defender in the 2003 national championship team.
Marcus Spears originally came to LSU as a tight end, but ending up switching to the defensive side of the ball full-time his sophomore year. He started 38 games at the defensive end position and finished his four-year career with 152 tackles, 19 sacks and 34.5 tackles for a loss. He was a key member of the 2003 national championship team and was an All-American in 2004, along with winning other awards such as the Bednarik Award and Lombardi Award.
Spears was one of the top tight end prospects coming out of high school, but ended up becoming one of the best defensive players to ever put on a LSU uniform.
LSU may struggle to find productive receivers now, but Josh Reed was one of the more productive receivers college football has ever seen. He played the 2000 and 2001 season at the wide receiver position and never looked back. He finished his career with 167 receptions, 3,001 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns. (Keep in mind that those numbers are pretty much from two seasons because he played running back for one year.)
Reed holds the SEC record for most receiving yards in a game (293) and most receiving yards in a season (1,740).
In the 2001 season, Reed earned All-American honors and also won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver.
Bert Jones played quarterback for LSU from 1970-1972 and is the first quarterback in school history to earn All-American honors. He led the tigers to a 26-6-1 record as a starter, including an SEC Championship and three bowl games. In the 1972 season, Jones finished fourth in the Heisman voting.
He finished his three-year career with 3,255 passing yards and 28 touchdowns, which were records for LSU quarterbacks at that time.
Billy Cannon played three seasons for the Tigers back in the late 50s and made huge contributions that helped the Tigers win their first national championship in 1958. The former running back won a total of 25 college football awards, including the Heisman Trophy in 1959.
Cannon was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and is considered one of the greatest LSU players of all-time.
If you think the Tigers have a great defensive line now, Glenn Dorsey is arguably the greatest defensive linemen to ever play for the Tigers. Dorsey really began his career his junior season when he was named an All-American and All-SEC. His senior season in 2007, he helped lead the Tigers to a BCS National Championship while earning awards such as SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors, Nagurski Trophy, Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy and Lott Trophy.
He finished his career with 179 total tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, two forced fumbles and a blocked field goal. In 2007, he finished ninth in the Heisman voting and is a huge reason the Tigers won the 2007 national championship.
Kevin Faulk was not only the best running back in LSU history, but he is one of the best runners this conference has ever seen. He holds the school career rushing record with 4,557 and finished with 6,833 career all-purpose yards and 53 total touchdowns. He holds several other LSU rushing records, including most career 200-yard games, most career 1,000-yard seasons and best yards-per-carry average. His career rushing yards was only second behind Georgia great Herschel Walker.
Faulk went on to have a successful NFL career as well and win three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.
What did Tommy Casanova not do for the LSU Tigers back in late 60s and early 70s? He was a running back, punt and kick returner and even played on the defensive side of the ball. He played three seasons and was an All-American all three years. (He is the only LSU Tiger that can say that.)
The Tigers finished with an overall record of 27-7 during his three seasons, and he was later named a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.