The perfect offseason for the LSU Tigers can be summed into five little words: stay out of the bars.
Go ahead and say it—"yeaaaaaah, right!" Tigerland Temptation is a real thing, so real that the lure of its fracas scene cost two primary offensive weapons playing time in the Tigers backfield two out of the last three seasons.
Jordan Jefferson and Jeremy Hill's Baton Rouge nightlife fiascoes sacrificed playing time for both players and nearly resulted in jail time.
Offseason issues have become a common theme for LSU in the summer. Before the 2012 season, Tyrann Mathieu's failed drug tests snatched away his opportunity of becoming the best player to ever wear an LSU uniform.
Hopefully LSU players, both new and old, can learn from these mistakes, with Hill's actions being the most fresh in their minds.
In this scripted perfect world, they do. Journey with me through a perfect offseason that's free of criminal charges, injuries and career-ending mistakes.
*This should go without saying, but these events/results have yet to transpire.
Jan. 15-Feb. 5
Riding the momentum of La'el Collins' shocking decision to return for another season in purple and gold, a top recruiting class begins to solidify itself.
Through this period, 5-star wide receiver Malachi Dupre, 4-star wide receiver Frank Iheanacho and 4-star defensive tackle Travonte Valentine declare their aspiration for playing for the Tigers. Breeland Speaks, a 4-star defensive tackle, and his teammate, 4-star offensive guard Roderick Taylor, follow, and Lorenzo Carter drops a Christopher Nolan-type twist in the recruiting circuits by picking LSU on national signing day.
Combine these targets with commits that have already established the Tigers with a Top 5 recruiting class, per 247Sports, and LSU easily possesses one of the best classes in the nation.
Suddenly talk about a national championship in 2014 emerges within the fanbase, despite having an inexperienced quarterback under center.
Feb. 6-Start of Spring Practice
The embellishment of LSU's gaudy recruiting class creates a thunderous applaud from LSU fans across Louisiana, but over the next coming weeks that giddy chatter silences.
The reason why is because the Tigers stay off the grid. Until the start of spring practice, no trouble arises from any player, which results in reporters going fairly mum. Hard to imagine, right?
Suddenly Tigerland has lost its attraction. Studies and casual hangouts take center stage until spring practice emerges.
Following the boring dead period (Tiger fans couldn't ask for more), LSU finally takes the practice field.
Competition ensues throughout the football team. Because of shocking junior returns, the Tigers have depth on the offensive line. Those hog-mollies get to block for a running back that amassed 1,401 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in 2013.
Ed Paris, who battles Corey Thompson, Rickey Jefferson and Ronald Martin for a starting safety position, benefits from enrolling early, along with Brandon Harris.
understand SELF MADE comes with no predictions or hype .... just hard work and faith! pic.twitter.com/iiqtPG9BRH— bharris (@bharrisqb1) January 12, 2014
The storyline throughout the spring centers around Harris vs. Anthony Jennings. Who comes out as the starting quarterback in August?
Running backs delight, the defense excites and the quarterbacks ignite anticipation.
The spring game electrifies those in attendance because Jeremy Hill and Terrence Magee battle on opposite sides, but you know Cam Cameron slings it around to see how his quarterbacks fare.
Growing pains are shown in some poor choices by both quarterbacks, but ultimately, Tiger fans go into the summer feeling optimistic about the Tigers' future.
DBU makes its presence known at the game as well. The second coming of a stellar secondary makes the impending dead period all the more lengthy.
Dead Period (Spring Ball Conclusion to Start of Summer Practice)
The Tigers avoid a repeat Rashard Robinson situation.
Instead of losing valuable time due to the NCAA Clearinghouse investigating a transcript, each LSU signee enrolls on time, jumps the learning curve and benefits greatly from Cameron's tutelage. To Robinson's credit, he enrolled at the very end of August and still saw significant playing time—signs that DBU is going to be back, folks.
The season begins in the "dead period" with workouts and playbook memorization. Good leadership sets the pace for a diligent football team en route to a national championship.
The competition increases and the separation begins.
With true freshmen arrivals—Trey Quinn, Leonard Fournette and Jamal Adams being the most notable—the Tigers begin to form a two-deep rotation full of capable game-changers.
Practices are aggressive, and the Big Cat Drills are fierce, molding this team into an identity best suited for one of college football's best running backs and offensive lines.
The days fly by with positive reports from fall camp as the season approaches.
Note: recruit rankings provided by 247Sports.