LSU Football: All-Time Best Recruit at Each Position
In today's college football world, it is crazy how lives can often sit on hold, waiting for an 18-year-old's college decision.
It is a decision that can make all the difference and often leave a program with a star or searching for the next best thing.
LSU head coach Les Miles has done an exceptional job in recruiting since arriving to campus back in 2005. He followed arguably the best recruiter in college football history in Nick Saban, who manned the LSU sidelines from 2000-04.
But how does LSU go about landing these top-tier recruits, year in and year out?
Better yet, who are these top recruits, and what is the story behind how they ended up playing in Baton Rouge?
Let's go ahead and break down the all-time best recruit at each position for the LSU Tigers.
Right here, right now!
*These rankings are based on the readers opinion, as well as previous rankings issued by popular recruiting website, Rivals.com, which dates back to 2002.
Quarterback: Russell Shepard
Russell Shepard was a mega-recruit for Les Miles in 2009, a year in which LSU brought in arguably the top class in the nation.
The 6'1", 180-pound Shepard was a 5-star quarterback prospect and the No. 7-ranked player in the nation in 2009, according to Rivals.com.
Shepard, who played his high school ball in Houston at Cypress Ridge High, was the top dual-style quarterback in that 2009 class and the No. 2 overall quarterback prospect, behind former USC standout Matt Barkley.
Nearly every major college in the country was after Shepard, including the likes of Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas and USC. In the end, Shepard sided with Les Miles and the Tigers.
Although he was recruited as a highly touted quarterback prospect, Shepard never took a single snap at the quarterback position for LSU. Instead, he was moved between both running back and wide receiver, where he struggled catching on throughout his career.
Shepard finished his four-year career at LSU rushing for 716 yards and five touchdowns. His numbers weren't much better when he was moved to wide receiver, hauling in 58 catches for 570 yards and five total receiving touchdowns.
Shepard's best season came during his sophomore campaign when he caught 33 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 226 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Shepard went undrafted in this year's 2013 NFL draft and recently signed a free-agent deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.
He will go down as one of the most over-hyped recruits in LSU history.
Running Back: Keiland Williams
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Keiland Williams is another guy who was a huge recruit for LSU, but never quite lived up to the hype surrounding his name.
Williams played his high school ball in Louisiana, but was unable to play during his senior year because he turned 19 years old before the Sept. 1 cutoff. Because of that, Williams played his final season of prep ball at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va.
The talented running back prospect was recruited heavily by the likes of Florida, Ole Miss and USC, but he ultimately sided with the Tigers.
Rivals.com listed Williams as a 5-star running back and the No. 5-ranked prep school prospect in the nation in the 2006 class. He was one of two 5-star prospects in the Tigers' 2006 class, joining former defensive tackle Al Woods.
During his time in Baton Rouge, Williams totaled 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns, not terrible numbers, but certainly not what was expected from a highly routed 5-star running back prospect.
Williams' best season came during his sophomore year when he carried the ball 70 times for 478 yards and six touchdowns. His production began to slip from there on out, which led to him being undrafted and eventually signing a free-agent contract with the Washington Redskins in 2010.
After a brief stint with the Detroit Lions back in 2011, Williams is now back with Washington, serving as a backup running back for the Redskins.
Wide Receiver: Rueben Randle
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Rueben Randle was not only LSU's top wide receiver recruit of all time, he was one of the top wide receiver recruits throughout all of college football over the past decade.
A 6'3", 200-pound wide receiver prospect out of Bastrop, La., Randle was the No. 1-ranked receiver in the nation and the No. 2-ranked prospect in the entire 2009 class, according to Rivals.com.
"Randle is an athlete that is a cross between A.J. Green and Julio Jones. He should have a similar impact at the next level," said Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Barry Every.
He committed to LSU over just about every other top program in the nation, including Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Miami (Fla.).
Despite playing quarterback for much of his high school career, Randle was still recruited as a wide receiver, and he excelled at the position during his three years in Baton Rouge.
Randle bolted early for the NFL after the 2011 season, but he certainly left his mark at LSU, playing in 40 games and hauling in 97 catches for 1,634 yards and 13 touchdowns. He earned All-SEC honors during his junior season after ranking third in the conference with 917 receiving yards and eight touchdown catches.
The former LSU standout was drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft by the New York Giants.
Tight End: DeSean Smith
Photo from 247sports.com
The top tight end recruit in LSU's rich football history has yet to take a single snap in a Tigers' uniform.
Ah, the beauty of recruiting.
Make no doubt about it, LSU head coach Les Miles had a huge smile across his face when he got word that DeSean Smith would be enrolling at LSU this coming fall.
Smith, a 6'4", 222-pound, in-state prospect is the No. 2-ranked tight end in the nation, according to Rivals.com. The popular recruiting site also ranks Smith as the No. 68 prospect in the entire country, regardless of position.
Smith was being heavily pursued by the likes of Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame and Nebraska, but he gave a verbal commitment to the Tigers last summer and should be arriving on campus any day now in Baton Rouge.
Rivals.com recruiting analyst Brian Perroni had the following to say about Smith:
"Barbe tight end DeSean Smith could be the best player at his position in the entire class of 2013. Split out wide as a receiver a season ago, the 6-foot-4, 222-pound junior has bulked up and shown the ability to block as well this year."
Offensive Line: La'El Collins
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When it comes to the top offensive linemen in college football, La'El Collins could very well see his name appear on that list this season.
Collins certainly saw his name appear near the top of every rankings list back in 2011.
The massive 6'5", 325-pound offensive lineman was the No. 2-ranked offensive tackle prospect in the nation back in 2011, according to Rivals.com. The site also ranked Collins as the No. 6 overall prospect in the nation and the No. 2 offensive tackle in the country, trailing only Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio.
Collins grew up right in LSU's backyard, playing for Redemptorist High in Baton Rouge, La. That made LSU a pretty easy pick, despite being recruited heavily by the likes of Auburn, Florida, Florida State and USC, among others.
The former 5-star prospect was pushed into the call of duty immediately upon arrival at LSU. He appeared in seven games as a true freshman and moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore where he started all 13 games at left guard for the Tigers.
Collins is expected to take over the starting left tackle duties for LSU in the upcoming season.
Defensive Line: Al Woods
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Back in 2006, Les Miles signed a 26-person recruiting class, which was highlighted by a massive defensive tackle prospect by the name of Al Woods.
A 5-star mega-recruit from nearby Elton, La., Woods pledged his talents to Miles and the Tigers over the likes of Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, Oklahoma and USC.
Rivals.com ranked Woods as the No. 2 defensive tackle prospect in the country in 2006. He was listed as the No. 20 player overall in the 2006 Rivals100.
Despite all the hype surrounding his name entering college, Woods never quite lived up to it. It wasn't until his senior season that he earned a starting spot on the Tigers' defensive line.
All in all, Woods finished his LSU playing career with 73 tackles, eight of which were for a loss and 3.5 sacks.
He went on to be drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft and has been bouncing around the league over the past couple of seasons. He is currently listed as a backup defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.
Linebacker: Ryan Baker
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Many believed that Florida State was the favorite to land high 4-star linebacker Ryan Baker out of Blountstown, Fla.
However, Baker went with Les Miles and the LSU Tigers and ended up having a great collegiate career in the purple and gold.
Coming out of high school, Rivals.com ranked Baker as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the nation and the No. 74 player overall in the class of 2008.
In addition to offers from LSU and Florida State, Baker was also heavily recruited by Florida, Arkansas and Clemson, among others.
After playing special teams during his first two years on campus, Baker started his junior and senior seasons at LSU. He closed out his career with 184 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks, while leading one of the top defenses throughout college football.
Defensive Back: Patrick Peterson
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Patrick Peterson was not only one of the top defensive back's in LSU football history, he was arguably one of the best defensive backs in college football history.
Peterson was a mega-recruit out of Blanche Ely High in Pompano Beach, Fla. He was a 5-star prospect and the top-ranked defensive back in the class of 2008, according to Rivals.com. The popular recruiting site listed Peterson, or Patrick Johnson, as he went by in high school, as the No. 5 prospect in the nation that year.
Peterson committed to LSU back in October 2007, but not before being chased by just about every other school in the nation. He was being heavily recruited by the likes of Florida, Florida State, Georgia and USC.
The talented defensive back played in 39 career games at LSU, closing out his collegiate career with 135 tackles, 22 pass breakups and seven interceptions. He was named an All-American in both his sophomore and junior seasons, in addition to earning both the Bednarik and Thorpe awards during his junior campaign.
The former LSU All-American was selected fifth overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2011 NFL draft.
He has already been named to the Pro Bowl in is one of the top defensive backs in the NFL today.