LSU Football: Power Ranking the 10 Best Players over the Past Decade

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2012

LSU Football: Power Ranking the 10 Best Players over the Past Decade

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    It is no secret that LSU has established its football program as being one of the best in the nation over the past decade.

    From current players like Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne to stars who shined bright in the early 2000's, such as Corey Webster and Bradie James, this school has become known as a true college football powerhouse.

    But how good were these players over the past 10 years? How do they stack up to the rest?

    Let's break down LSU's 10 Best Players over the Past Decade.

    Right here, right now.

    Bleacher Report Style!

10. Michael Clayton

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    While his NFL career never quite panned out like many would have expected, Clayton was a true star at the college level while at LSU.

    This former first-round draft pick was a three-year starter for the Tigers. During his time wearing the purple and gold, Clayton hauled in 182 passes for 2,582 yards and 21 touchdowns. He holds the school record for the most career touchdown catches and ranks second in total receptions.

    Perhaps the most impressive stat of all during his college years was that Clayton recorded a reception in every game he played in while at LSU.

    When it comes to the top offensive weapons in college football during the mid 2000's, you simply can't leave this guy off that list.

9. Morris Claiborne

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    The numbers might not jump out at you, and the headlines were owned by Tyrann Mathieu this past season, but when it comes down to the best cover corners in college football, Morris Claiborne topped that list in 2011.

    Claiborne showed his lockdown defensive back skills throughout the past two years at LSU, and because of that, he is expected to be a top-five selection in this April's 2012 NFL Draft.

    Claiborne was an All-American this past season and received the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to college football's top defensive back.

    Of course, Mathieu deserves plenty of credit, but if it wasn't for Morris Claiborne, no way LSU goes undefeated in the 2011 regular season.

8. Marcus Spears

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    Marcus Spears is another example of one of those players who still hasn't really panned out in the Pro's, but boy was he special in college.

    Spears arrived at LSU as a tight end, but he was quickly transformed into a defensive lineman and was dominant at that position while at LSU.

    Spears was the interior force on the Tigers' line during the team's 2003 National Championship run. He was an All-American in his senior season before being drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Cowboys.

7. Corey Webster

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    When it comes to the top cornerbacks ever at LSU, Corey Webster is certainly near the top of that list. He is also one of the top corners in the NFL today and is fresh off another Super Bowl title with the New York Giants.

    Webster starred at LSU during the early 2000's and was a two-time All-American in 2003 and 2004. He was a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award on two separate occasions and was an All-SEC performer for three years while wearing the LSU purple and gold.

    This story is especially interesting because Webster was recruited to LSU as a quarterback and was moved to receiver once he arrived on campus. Former coach Nick Saban saw he had great potential as a cornerback, and he has starred there ever since, grabbing a career-high six interceptions this past season for the Giants.

6. Tyrann Mathieu

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    If this was a list consisting of the best seasons in LSU history, then Tyrann Mathieu might be No. 1 after his memorable 2011 campaign.

    However, keep in mind that Mathieu is only a sophomore, so he still has at least one more year to work his way to the top of this list.

    Despite only being a sophomore, Mathieu still appears here after being named a freshman All-American in 2010 and a Heisman Trophy Finalist this past season.

    In just his 18th career game for the Tigers, Mathieu set an LSU record this season with his eighth forced fumble, which he then recovered and ran for a touchdown. But it was this kid's return skills that made him stand out above the rest.

    The "Honey Badger," as they call him, had two of the most electric punt returns in college football in back-to-back games against Arkansas and Georgia, which secured the Tigers a spot in this year's BCS National Championship Game.

    Like I said, there is still plenty of time for Mathieu to move his way up to the top of this prestigious list.

    The sky is the limit for this flashy playmaker.

5. Dwayne Bowe

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    When it comes to the top athletes to ever play at LSU, Dwayne Bowe is off the charts in that category.

    Bowe was a three-year starter for the Tigers and left LSU as one of the most established receivers in the program's rich history. This talented wideout hauled in 154 passes for 2,403 yards and 26 touchdowns in his four years at LSU. Those 26 touchdown receptions are the most of any receiver in LSU football history.

    Bowe was named a third-team All-American during his senior campaign and went on to become a first-round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2007. He still plays with KC today and has established himself as one of the top receivers in the NFL.

4. Bradie James

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    How many LSU players have recorded more than 150 tackles in a single season?

    The answer is only one player, and that player is Bradie James.

    This standout linebacker recorded more than 400 tackles in his four years wearing the purple and gold. He was honored as an All-American selection during his senior season at LSU, becoming the first LSU linebacker to do so in over 30 years.

    James went on to be selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2003 Draft. He still plays with the Cowboys to this day.

3. LaRon Landry

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    It's almost scary to think how feared opposing players must have been while going over the middle against LSU's defense in the mid 2000's.

    Standing there waiting for them was safety LaRon Landry, who is one of the hardest hitting players in the NFL today.

    Landry was a four-year starter for LSU and hit the scene hard right off the bat when he anchored the Tigers' secondary during the team's 2003 National Championship season.

    He was an All-American and finalist for the Jim Thorpe award in his senior season and went on to become a first-round pick of the Washington Redskins, where he currently plays today in the NFL.

2. Glenn Dorsey

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    Before Tyrann Mathieu, the only LSU defensive player to ever finish in the Top 10 of the Heisman Trophy voting was this man right here, Glenn Dorsey.

    This 6'1", 300-pound defensive lineman was simply dominant in his final two seasons at LSU. 

    During his junior and senior campaigns, Dorsey combined to record 133 tackles, 21 of which were tackles for loss, and 10 sacks from the defensive tackle position. He was named an All-American in each of those seasons.

    During his senior year, Dorsey became the only player to win all four major awards for a defensive lineman.

    He was a first-round pick in 2008 to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he currently plays today. 

1. Patrick Peterson

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    This was a tough decision between Peterson and Dorsey for the No. 1 spot on this list, but when it came down to it, there might not have been a more complete defensive back in college football than Peterson since Charles Woodson won the Heisman Trophy over a decade ago.

    Peterson was a three-year starter for the Tigers from 2008-2010. During that time period, he was named a two-time All-SEC performer, an All-American and the winner of both the Thorpe and Bednarik prestigious awards.

    Peterson is considered by many to be the greatest defensive player to ever play at LSU.