There is an unusual buzz this time of year on the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. March Madness has taken hold, LSU's basketball team has made it back to the NCAA Tournament.
While this is all good and fun, if the basketball team makes it past the first round, they will meet up with North Carolina in the second round. Once the Tarheels dismiss the Tigers, the Bayou Bengal faithful can get back to what really matters... FOOTBALL!
Last season was a rough and bumpy road. The 2007 National Championship Team featured such seasoned seniors like QB Matt Flynn, WR Early Doucet, FB Jacob Hester, DE Kristen Pittman, DT Glenn Dorsey, and S Craig Steltz.
The 2008 edition featured less then stellar starters, the most notable being RSFr Jarrett Lee, who probably owns the NCAA record for interceptions returned for touchdowns in a season (if the NCAA kept such a stat).
There is good news down on the Bayou for the Purple and Gold Nation. There are a handful of players that will ensure the Tigers get back to their winning ways, in hopes of competing for an SEC or maybe even a National Championship.
No. 1 WR Brandon LaFell, 6-3, 209 from Lamar HS, Houston TX
LaFell made a splash in 2007, stepping in for the injured Early Doucet. With 118 career receptions for 1,725 yards and 14 touchdowns, becoming the No. 1 receiver could result in big numbers for 2009.
No. 32 RB Charles Scott, 5-11, 233 from Jonesboro-Hodge HS, Saline, LA
With the departure of Jacob Hester, Scott became the feature back in Les Miles offense last year and it paid off. In his junior season he racked up 1,174 yards for 18 touchdowns, three of which came in the 38-3 beatdown of Georgia Tech in the bowl formerly know as the Peach. Another year as the primer back should produce even better numbers.
No. 18 TE Richard Dickson, 6-3, 246 from Ocean Springs HS, Ocean Springs, MS
The No. 18 is sacred at LSU. When the departing senior who wears the number leaves the school, they pass the number on to the underclass who will lead the team.
In 2003, Matt Mauck's final year wearing No. 18, he won a National Championship. Mauck passed the number to Jacob Hester. In 2007, Jacob Hester's final year wearing No. 18, he won a National Championship. Hester passed the number to Richard Dickson.
THIS IS DICKSON'S FINAL YEAR WEARING No. 18, this could spell NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. Superstition aside, he a skillful tight end and a vocal leader.
No. 70 OT Ciron Black 6-5, 352 from Robert E. Lee HS, Tyler, TX
Ciron Black has started 40 consecutive games at left tackle for the Tigers. He is vocal leader offense and has played every meaningful offensive snap in the last three seasons. His experience will be the glue that keep his young QBs together.
No. 24 S Harry Coleman 6-2, 205 from West St Marys HS, Baldwin, LA
Hard-hitting safety who enters his second year as a starter for the Tigers, he lead LSU in tackles for 2009 with 71. By the end of the season you will be mentioning Coleman in the same sentence as Craig Steltz and LaRon Landry.
No. 9 QB Jordan Jefferson, 6-4, 209 from Desterhan HS, St Rose, LA
This sophomore quarterback was highly touted coming out of high school. Named a national All-American by SuperPrep Magazine, Rivals.com rated him a Top-10 pro style QB.
During the last couple of games last season Jefferson showed glimpses of what made him the 2007 Louisiana Class 5A Offensive Player of the Year. Given a full-time practice and work load he should flourish in Les Miles system.
No. 80 WR Terrance Toliver, 6-4, 194 from Hempstead HS, Hempstead, TX
A skillful possession receiver who gained 2007 SEC All-Freshman team honors. Toliver has been a constant slot target in the Tiger's three-wide set, expect even bigger numbers from him as he moves into the #2 role.
No. 7 CB Patrick Peterson, 6-1, 205 from Ely HS, Pompano Beach, FL
The sophomore cornerback formally known as Patrick Johnson is a shutdown, light outs type of defender who has the speed to go step for step with the best receivers in the country.
A USA Today's Defensive Player of the year during his HS senior season, he will build upon that success, in an attempt to return more pick 6s in his career than Jarrett Lee threw last year.
No. 10 QB Russell Shepard, 6-1, 179 from Cypress Ridge HS, Houston, TX
This top rated QB enrolled early and is already learning the Tigers system, or it could be the other way around, LSU could be learning this duel-treat QB's system.
Many great offensives have emerged in the SEC because of just one player. Arkansas' Wild Hog on the shoulders of Darren McFadden, Florida's "Percy Position" after their stellar WR/RB All-Everything Percy Harvin, and LSU will be no different.
Watch for, dare I say, the Wild Tiger? Maybe the "Shepard Shotgun?" Whatever the name the media gives it, Shepard a Parade All-American QB, will change the game in the SEC.
WR Ruben Randle, 6-3, 195 from Bastrop HS, Bastrop LA
The HS QB/WR was the No. 1 recruit coming out of Louisiana this past signing season and it is easy to tell why.
Rating in the top 10 for overall prospects he should slide nicely into the slot role of the Tiger's three-wide system before taking over No. 1 reciever duties later in his career
DB Craig Loston, 6-2, 139 from Eisenhower HS, Houston TX
Regarded by many as the best defensive player coming out of high school this year. Loston will enjoy success on the defensive side of the ball, but is also known for his blazing speed and elusiveness which will lead to many touches in the return game to complement LSU's speed trackster Trindon Holliday.
As we creep towards fall and the Tiger's opening day match-up in Seattle against the U-Dub Huskies, down on the Bayou there is plenty to look forward to during the summer, as the Bayou Bengals are all ready working towards becoming the first ever three time BCS Champions.