LSU Football: The 7 Best Freshmen in Program History

Jared DonahoeContributor IIJuly 30, 2011

LSU Football: The 7 Best Freshmen in Program History

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    There is no doubting that LSU is one of the most dominant programs in the country.

    They have two national championships (2003, 2007) within four years of each other. They are part of one of the most dominant conferences there is today, the Southeastern Conference. And some of the most famous players that have gone pro have come from LSU.

    Let's take a look at who some of the program's best players were as freshmen.

7. 2002 Andrew Whitworth: Offensive Tackle

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    Andrew “Whit” Whitworth was one of LSU’s most impressive freshmen. The redshirt freshman showed out in his first season and was a major factor on the offensive line.

    Whitworth started all 13 games for LSU. He saw action on 884 plays, which included all 99 plays from scrimmage in the Cotton Bowl against Texas. He was only called for seven penalties his entire freshman season. He had a grade of 85 percent or better in all 13 games. Whitworth was named first-team Freshman All-American by The Sporting News, and he also was named to the first-team Freshman All-SEC.

    Whitworth set a LSU record with 52 career starts. While never missing a game or practice due to injury in his career, he missed one practice due to graduation ceremonies in December of 2005.

6. 2008 Patrick Peterson: Cornerback

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    Patrick Peterson is one of LSU’s greatest players to fill the position of cornerback.

    In his true-freshman season, Peterson started all 13 games. He started the final four games of the season, which included the win over Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Peterson finished the season with 41 tackles, which include the 30 solo tackles he made. Peterson also caught one interception and forced a fumble.

    In his final season at LSU, he earned these awards: Thorpe Award, Consensus All-American, Bednarik Award, and also the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. His final stats at LSU consisted of 135 tackles, eight interceptions, and one touchdown.

5. 2010 Tyrann Mathieu: Cornerback

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    In 2010, Tyrann Mathieu made an immediate impact for the LSU Tigers as a true freshman.

    Mathieu played in all 13 games as freshman, while recording nine tackles, one sack and a forced fumble in his first game as a Tiger. In the game against West Virginia, he made his first career interception and his first career fumble recovery. Throughout his freshman year, he recorded 57 tackles, which landed him fourth on the team.

    Mathieu ranked first in the SEC and fifth nationally with five forced fumbles and tied for first in the conference in fumble recoveries with three.

4. 1995 Kevin Faulk: Halfback

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    No doubt in my mind that Kevin Faulk was one of the all-time freshmen as a LSU Tiger.

    Faulk, as a true freshman, got his first start in the second game of the season when LSU played Mississippi State in 1995. He gained 171 yards on 23 carries and had two touchdowns in his first game of his collegiate career. Faulk played in 10 games of his freshman season, in which he started seven of them and had four games of 100 yards or more rushing.

    But it was his Independence Bowl performance that caught the nation’s attention, rushing for 234 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns.

    Faulk was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week for his game against Ole Miss, which made him the first freshman to receive that honor since Florida’s Danny Wuerffel in 1993.

3. 2003 LaRon Landry: Free Safety

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    LaRon Landry was a big key to the Tigers' 2003 national championship.

    He started in his first game playing cornerback but was moved to free safety. In his first game as a Tiger, Landry recorded 11 tackles and a blocked field goal against Mississippi State. Landry registered four tackles in the first half vs. Arkansas before missing the rest of the game due to a concussion.

    He played in all 14 games with 10 starts. He led the team in tackles in 2003 by recording 80 tackles his first year. He was named to the first-team Freshmen All-American by the Football Writer’s Association and Collegefootballnews.com. Landry also earned second-team All-SEC honors from the AP.

2. 2003 Justin Vincent: Halfback

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    When I hear the name Justin Vincent, the only word that comes to mind is wow! 

    Vincent is one of the finest freshmen in LSU history. He took over the role of starter after injuries forced Joseph Addai and Shyrone Carey to the sidelines midway through the season. He started for the first time against South Carolina and rushed for 77 yards and two touchdowns.

    He set an SEC Championship game record by rushing for 201 yards and two touchdowns, as they defeated Georgia 34-13. He was named MVP of the SEC tiles game, while also being named MVP of the Nokia Sugar Bowl.

    Vincent broke Dalton Hilliard’s LSU freshmen rushing record of 901, which was set in 1982 by rushing for 1,001 yards. He earned 1,001 rushing yards in only a half of a season—that’s incredible. While taking on full duty of halfback, he also had nine special team tackles in his freshman year.

1: 1985 Tommy Hodson: Quarterback

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    Hodson was a part of the 1985 LSU signing class along with other several top recruits. The interesting fact about Hodson was despite growing up in Louisiana, he grew up a Crimson Tide fan, but decided to play for the Tigers.

    His freshman season was cut short due to an ulna nerve in his right throwing arm. In 1986, as redshirt freshman, Hodson started under center in the home opener against No. 7 Texas A&M. He led the LSU Tigers to 31- 17 victory over the Aggies.

    Later, he led LSU to a victory over his favorite school as a child, No. 6 Alabama 14-10. In his freshman season, Hodson took the Tigers to win the SEC championship, the school’s first since 1970. Hodson passed for over 2,000 yards in his freshman season as Tiger, and he was also voted to the first-team All-SEC team.