The most valuable player on the 2013 LSU Tigers roster is Odell Beckham.
Not Zach Mettenberger. Not Jarvis Landry. Not Jeremy Hill. You can spin it however you want—Beckham is the Tigers' best player and, dare I say, most valuable asset.
Why it isn't Mettenberger, Landry or Hill
It's a close race for MVP, so let's dissect this bad boy by examining each candidate. Cue the acrimonious disputes.
"You're crazy. Mettenberger is the MVP because this team lives or dies by its quarterback play. That makes him the most valuable," a level-headed LSU fan may say.
This was an argument proposed by yours truly over a month ago. Because Mettenberger touches the ball on every single play, his value is agreeably amplified.
However, Beckham deserves the nod over the senior quarterback because of Beckham's steady production at wide receiver/as a returner, which is something Mettenberger failed to do at quarterback during the month of October. Mettenberger had six touchdowns and six interceptions over the month span.
He could have saved his MVP chances with an exclamatory win against Alabama on the road. However, the Tigers lost, despite Mettenberger's 69.6 completion percentage, 241 yards, touchdown and no interceptions. Out the window goes the whole live-and-die assessment, eh?
Mettenberger's three interceptions in the first half against Ole Miss were abysmal, and his interception in the first half to Furman was inexcusable, also helping eliminate him from the conversation. Still, to his credit, becoming the first player in school history to throw for 2,500 yards or more in back-to-back seasons is an incredible feat, and Mettenberger deserves a tip of the hat for such accomplishments.
|LSU Superstars' Statistics Through 10 Games|
|Player:||Yards at Position||All-Purpose Yards||TDs|
|Odell Beckham||1,051 receiving yards||2,090 total yards||9|
|Zach Mettenberger||2,733 passing yards||2,627 total yards||20|
|Jeremy Hill||964 rushing yards||1,098 total yards||13|
|Jarvis Landry||972 receiving yards||972 total yards||8|
"Forget Mettenberger, it's been Jeremy Hill's offense since day one. He's our best player, nimrod," a ill-tempered LSU enthusiast might respond.
Hill seemingly has it all, does he not? He has the power, he has the speed and to the surprise of most, he has the drive. In talking with Kadron Boone earlier this season, Boone told me that Hill is always asking questions, trying to make himself a more complete back.
However, his actions before the season are unforgivable. After pleading guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge, I'm not so sure Hill should even be on the team.
Quite a shame, considering he's only 36 yards away from being the first LSU running back since Stevan Ridley to gain 1,000 rushing yards in a season.
"Beckham for MVP? He's not even the best wide receiver on the team! Give it to Landry," a keyboard warrior would likely type on his beloved message boards.
Hands-wise, Landry is the better receiver. In fact, Landry's blocking ability and third-down production this season (second nationally with 377 receiving yards) make for quite a passionate exchange amongst fans.
An honor bestowed upon Beckham could tilt the discussion though. Being named a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff settles the dispute regarding Landry and Beckham. It's Beckham's speed, route running and vision with the ball that makes him the better receiver, player and MVP of this LSU football team.
Being Beckham's roommate for three seasons, Landry was quick to praise his close friend on his God-given talent.
“He’s very deserving. His speed and ability to make plays speak volumes about the things he can do as an offensive player,” said Landry before Monday's practice.
Look, Mettenberger, Landry and Hill are all deserving, but Beckham trumps all because of his versatility and instincts with the ball in his hands.
To give an example of his overall athletic prowess, Beckham scorched LSU's defense in practice, throwing three touchdowns in a scrimmage. Already know what you're thinking—from the looks of the defense this season, that's the least impressive thing he's done.
“Actually quarterback isn’t all that bad,” Beckham said.
I'm sure it isn't when you're throwing against the 2013 version of DBU.
There are a number of reasons why LSU's offense has soared this season, but perhaps the biggest reason of them all is the mismatch Beckham offers. LSU head coach Les Miles said at Monday's press luncheon that his team has enjoyed taking advantage on a weekly basis.
"You're looking at a guy that this team relies on in a number of spots. It’s an impossible task to cover him one-on-one,” Miles said.
But what made Beckham stand out as the Tigers' MVP was his resolve shown in the 38-17 loss to Alabama.
To use an overly done time-machine analogy (yuck), let's take a hike back toward memory lane to the fourth quarter of the not-so Game of the Century. Never said it would be a jolly one, LSU fans.
The Tigers fell behind two touchdowns in the final quarter of the game. Unfazed, Beckham rallied the kickoff return team and told them it's time to make a play.
The college football world witnessed a player place LSU on his back and seemingly put the Tigers back into the ballgame.
For everything Beckham has accomplished this season (a 109-yard missed field goal returned for a touchdown and becoming the fifth LSU player in school history to amass 1,000 receiving yards in a season), it was his 82-yard kickoff return that proved he was the Tigers' MVP.
The funny thing is, most fans are quick to point out Mettenberger's improvement or how Cam Cameron has had a resounding impact on Mettenberger's production. Both very true, but the same can be said about Beckham.
As a result of growing pains from Mettenberger at the quarterback position, stale play-calling, a mix of dropped passes and fumbles against Washington and Florida, Beckham's 2012 campaign left much to be desired.
“Players struggle a little bit, and it’s really about how you overcome adversity. I think he’s done a great job of overcoming it,” Landry said.
Better than ever, Beckham's benefited from a pro-style offense, but his improved hands have put him in a position to succeed each and every Saturday. Combine that with his route running and elusiveness after the catch, and he's transformed himself into the most dangerous weapon the Tigers possess.
Beckham wins the MVP argument with one simple statement—he is having one of the greatest seasons an LSU Tiger has ever had.
Against Furman, Beckham became the fifth LSU football player to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards. At 1,051 receiving yards and eight touchdown receptions, Beckham is third and fourth in the SEC, respectively.
What's most impressive about Beckham's season, though, are his all-purpose numbers. With 307 more yards, Beckham will break Randall Cobb’s 2,396 SEC all-purpose yards record (2010). He only needs 31 to break the school record held by Kevin Faulk (1998).
Judging by Beckham's 209 all-purpose yards-per-game average, he'll make a run at breaking the record against Texas A&M's defense Saturday.
The numbers simply provide evidence of what LSU fans have witnessed all season long.
Whether it was sitting in Tiger Stadium on a warm Sept. 7 night or if it was observing a televised-encounter at Mississippi State, LSU fans shared the same thought for most of the 2013 season—"what is Odell Beckham going to do with the football next?"
Fitting, as this question will consume the minds of every SEC observer, anticipating history from the Tigers' MVP in the next two weeks.
Jake Martin is a Featured Columnist of Bleacher Report and a contributor for the The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials from The Sun Herald.
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