LSU Football: Recapping the Biggest 2014 Offseason News so Far
LSU has had an uneventful summer...thus far. But LSU head coach Les Miles knows no news is good news.
The Tigers saw past All-SEC performers Jeremy Hill and Tyrann Mathieu over the past few offseasons involved in off-the-field incidents that dominated headlines. Miles does not want to deal with that stress again.
The news cycle has been mostly positive for LSU. If a backup defensive end's bike robbery is the worst news thus far, Miles can live with that.
Here are some of the biggest stories this offseason.
Signing Day Success
Les Miles brought in his best recruiting class ever when he needed to the most.
LSU has lost 18 underclassmen to the NFL draft over the past two offseasons. The Tigers needed a replenishing of talent in the worst way.
Miles responded with four 5-star recruits and a host of talented 4-star prospects that are expected to play right away. He also reeled in his highest-rated recruit ever in running back Leonard Fournette.
The 2014 class is expected to bring championships back to Baton Rouge. If they are coached and developed properly, there is no reason for them not to at least be in contention.
The SEC Schedule Remaining the Same
The SEC decided this offseason to keep the 6-1-1 scheduling format the same. LSU will continue to play Florida as a permanent cross-division rival, much to the chagrin of Les Miles, per Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune.
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva agrees with Miles, arguing there is "competitive disadvantage" for schools that have tough cross-divisional opponents:
I'm disappointed in the fact that the leadership of our conference doesn't understand the competitive advantage permanent partners give to certain institutions. I tried to bring that up very strongly at the meeting today. In our league we share the money and expenses equally but we don't share our opponents equally.
The current schedule format is slated to stay the same until 2025. Bleacher Report SEC Lead Writer Barrett Sallee says the conference made a mistake by not moving to a nine-conference game format.
Miles Not Opposed to Playing Two QBs
LSU head coach Les Miles has still not made a decision on who will start at quarterback. Miles told The Advocate's Scott Rabalais at the SEC spring meetings in late May that the Tigers will have a "guy or two" ready to play under center.
The quarterback battle this spring was heated between sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris.
Jennings served as the backup to Zach Mettenberger last season. Jennings earned a start in the Outback Bowl, but was below average in the game, albeit in victory. Harris outperformed Jennings in the spring game and has worked with quarterback guru George Whitfield over the summer.
The decision will be a tough one for Miles. But B/R SEC Lead Writer Barrett Sallee believes it is Harris' job to lose.
NFL Draft Dominantion
LSU led all schools with nine former Tigers selected in the 2014 NFL draft, per LSU Sports Information. Former receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was the highest Bayou Bengal selected, as the New York Giants chose him the No. 12 overall pick.
Miles has the tough task of replacing all of the departed talent and production for next season. But on the other hand, draft success is a huge sell when recruiting some of the nation's top prospects.
Derrius Guice Commits
LSU has had a good, but not great, recruiting offseason.
The Tigers have dropped to No. 7 in the 247Sports.com team recruiting rankings, with four other SEC schools ahead of them. Yet its still early in the process, and Miles and the coaching staff have been able to rake in commitments from talented prospects.
Derrius Guice has been the biggest name the Tigers have reeled in this summer. Guice is the No. 3 running back prospect in the state of Louisiana, ranking behind only fellow LSU commit Nick Brossette and Tyron Johnson.
LSU currently has 11 commitments for the class of 2015. The Tigers' biggest boost in recruiting arguably came for the 2016 class when offensive coordinator Cam Cameron reeled in 6'5" dual-threat quarterback Feleipe Franks.
LSU had a multitude of players leave the program this offseason.
Jordan Allen was an overall nonfactor last season. He started the first three games, but gradually became phased out of the defensive end rotation as the season went along. The former West Monroe standout will play his final season with Rich Rodriguez at Arizona, per the Arizona Daily Star's Daniel Berk.
Hayden Rettig would have been the No. 3 quarterback this season after redshirting in 2013. Rettig is the second signal-caller to transfer after Stephen Rivers left in February. There have been no reports on where Rettig will go, but Rivers landed at Vanderbilt, according to Nick Cole of The Tennessean.
Linebacker Lorenzo Phillips and defensive backs Jerqwinick Sandolph, Kavahra Holmes and Derrick Raymond, all with eligibility remaining, also left the program during the offseason, per Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune.