Re-Evaluating LSU's 2011 Recruiting Class
LSU's 2011 recruiting class will go down as one of Les Miles' best. Of the 23 players that formed the group, four of them were selected in the 2014 NFL draft. And there could be more selected in next year's NFL draft.
La'el Collins, Jermauria Rasco and Ronald Martin are all members of the 2011 coup that will be asked to carry this year's youthful team. The trio of players are all slated to be starters.
But, as there is in every recruiting class, there were some busts as well. Five players never played a snap for the Tigers.
Here is a look back at how the 2011 class shaped up.
Players: Zach Mettenberger, Jerrard Randall, Stephen Rivers
Zach Mettenberger is arguably the best quarterback Les Miles has ever had. Mettenberger transferred to LSU from Butler Community College with three years of eligibility remaining. He was originally at Georgia, but the gunslinger was dismissed for violating team rules as a freshman, per Tim Tucker of AJC.com.
Mettenberger served as the third-string quarterback in LSU's undefeated run to the national championship game. As a junior and senior, he amassed over 5,600 yards passing as a starter and led the Tigers to back-to-back 10-win seasons.
Jerrard Randall never saw the field for LSU. The speedy dual-threat quarterback eventually transferred to Arizona, where he is currently a redshirt junior. Stephen Rivers suffered the same fate as Randall, transferring to Vanderbilt this offseason.
Players: Kenny Hilliard, Terrence Magee
Kenny Hilliard was superb as a true freshman during LSU's national championship run after earning a workhorse role midway through the season. He has never lived up to the hype since then, but he's scored 13 touchdowns over the past two seasons.
Hilliard will head into 2014 alongside fellow senior Terrence Magee, who surprised LSU fans with a solid campaign last season. Magee finished as the second-leading rusher and worked as the first-team running back this spring.
Magee and Hilliard are solid but not spectacular players. They have been great contributors to the program and will need to take their game to the next level in their swan-song season.
Players: Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry were nothing short of spectacular in their LSU careers.
Beckham Jr. and Landry combined for 2,345 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns last season and were the first in SEC history to each eclipse 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. The duo were both early-round draft picks in this year's NFL draft.
Players: La'el Collins, Trai Turner, Corey White, Jonah Austin
La'el Collins came in with a lot hype as the No. 3 prep player in the country, per 247Sports. For the most part, he's lived up to that hype as a two-year starter. He is expected to have a spectacular senior season in 2014 and is a projected first-round draft pick by numerous draft experts.
Trai Turner was a two-year starter at right guard and decided to take his talents to the NFL, despite two years of eligibility remaining. Turner was drafted in the third round by the Carolina Panthers.
Jonah Austin has yet to have his chance to shine. But Austin, a former New Orleans prep standout at St. Augustine High School, is a more-than-capable backup as a junior this season.
Players: Anthony Johnson, Jermauria Rasco, Mickey Johnson, Quentin Thomas
Anthony Johnson never quite lived up to the high expectations surrounding him. He had flashes of dominance but was never consistent. He decided to leave with a year of eligibility remaining and went undrafted this offseason.
Jermauria Rasco has been a solid but not spectacular player. He led the team in sacks with four as a starter last season. Quentin Thomas was below average as a backup in 2013. He is slated to be a starter and will need to take his game to the next level.
The group is a good one, but more is desired from Rasco and Thomas.
Players: Trevon Randle
Trevon Randle only spent one season at LSU before transferring to Houston. He has been a non-factor since joining the Cougars.
Players: David Jenkins, Micah Eugene, Jalen Collins, Ronald Martin
LSU earned the moniker "Defensive Back University" due to the amazing success of the secondary, but it was not because of this recruiting class.
Recruiting rankings may not always be accurate, and this class is the prime example. The four defensive backs' careers, at this point, have been in reverse order of their original ranking.
Ronald Martin, despite being the lowest-rated defensive back of the group, has turned out to be the best player. He has three career interceptions and will be in contention to be a starter as a senior this season.
Jalen Collins earned Freshman All-SEC honors in 2012 as a redshirt freshman. But in 2013, he was phased out of the starting lineup with the rise of true freshmen corners Tre'Davious White and Rashard Robinson. He should be a reliable backup to the sophomore duo next season.
Micah Eugene left LSU last season, per Ross Dellenger of The Advocate. He had an up-and-down career but was a versatile player in defensive coordinator John Chavis' exotic schemes.
David Jenkins transferred from LSU to TCU, where he was eventually kicked off for burglary charges, according to Stefan Stevenson of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Jenkins eventually made his way to Iowa Western Community College.
Players: James Hairston
James Hairston was a spectacular kickoff specialist during his time at LSU. But he chose to transfer this offseason to pursue an opportunity to kick field goals as a senior, via Mike Gegenheimer of The Daily Reveille.
LSU's 2011 class has been an overall success. Miles has won at least 10 games every season with this group, which is always a good indicator of success.
A few of the players were contributors as true freshman for the SEC championship team in 2011, highlighted by Odell Beckham Jr. and Kenny Hilliard. The seven highest-rated players in the class, La'el Collins, Anthony Johnson, Jarvis Landry, Jermauria Rasco, Kenny Hilliard, Zach Mettenberger and Beckham Jr., were all productive players.
The most underrated aspect of the group was the willingness to play special teams. Beckham Jr. will be remembered as a returner, but Landry, Terrence Magee and Jalen Collins are just a few that sacrificed their bodies for the team on return units.
Though the group did not produce a national championship, which could change this year, a solid argument could be made that this was Miles' best class ever.
Final Grade: A-
Follow Carter Bryant on Twitter @CarterthePower.
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