CLICK HERE for our final list, originally published on Aug. 2.
Today, 40 days and two regular-season games removed from the release of our top spot, I look back on our top 50 rankings, evaluating which players have performed above expectations and which have gone under the bar set for them a little bit.
Check out TSD's Top 50 Revisited and sound off with your own thoughts at the link located at the bottom of this page.
Odell Beckham (previously 10) – Any time you're leading the country in all-purpose yards (sorry, Christian Jones of Alabama), you're probably one of your team's very best players. Such has been the case through two games with Beckham, who's scored four total touchdowns, been a menace on multiple special teams units and averages a whopping 25.4 yards per reception. LSU has even handed it off three times to OBJ on reverses so far. Not surprisingly, he's averaging 11.0 yards per carry. Simply put he's the Tigers' most dangerous player with a ball in his hands.
Zach Mettenberger (12) – The quarterback who battled consistency issues and a mistimed internal clock throughout 2012 has been consistently superb through a pair of games this fall, even showing a knack for sensing pressure, shifting through the pocket and even running for a first down when needed. With his arm, Mettenberger has been even more lethal. No. 8 is 32-of-51 (62.7%) passing for 533 yards and six touchdowns versus zero interceptions. He's throwing deep, he's checking down short, he's throwing it away when necessary. This version of Mett belongs much higher in the rankings and, if he continues to play like this, he'll be a big reason LSU shoots up in the rankings as a team.
Micah Eugene (41) – For the past three or four seasons, LSU has been the premier cultivator of DB talent in America. And it's not only been the starting players in traditional roles like cornerback or safety. Nickel and dime backs play a lot in John Chavis' system, with a real chance to shine. Eugene, a redshirt sophomore, has taken his opportunity this fall and so far is absolutely running with it … with no signs of looking back. LSU's starting nickel back has seven tackles, one for loss, one PBU, one pass defended and one QB hurry. He's doing a little bit of everything and, like Ron Brooks and Tyrann Mathieu before him, might just be turning into one of the team's most valuable defenders, even if he doesn't play every down.
Terrence Magee (44) – With the absence of Jeremy Hill, our top-ranked player this summer, in the TCU game, it was almost easy in hindsight to see Magee excelling. LSU's third-year back, beginning to emerge for the first time, scored two touchdowns in the Tigers' opener and currently leads the team with 102 total rushing yards. Even as Hill bursts back onto the scene, it's obvious Magee has the type of versatile skills that will keep him on the field. At the very least he belongs ahead of fading Kenny Hilliard, who we had at No. 34 before the season began.
Alfred Blue (5) – The same back who declared in Fall Camp that he was running with "no fear" and experiencing no setbacks after rehabbing his knee injury has looked a little tentative, at best, in LSU's opening two games. Blue's explosiveness hasn't quite been there, despite the fact he's rushed for 97 yards on 22 carries (4.4 ypc) to date. With Hill returning and Magee starting to flourish, it's hard to make a case for Blue as the team's fifth-best player. The senior certainly still has that upside, but Blue will have to bounce back in a big way, in an always-crowded backfield, to re-establish himself.
Josh Williford (19) – This one is absolutely at no fault to the player himself. Williford, who entered Fall Camp as LSU's starting left guard, reportedly suffered the second concussion of his career during the opening week of camp and is no longer practicing or playing with the team. The redshirt senior, now replaced by Vadal Alexander, was said by Les Miles to be moving into a role as a player assistant, similar to what Josh Dworaczyk did in 2011.
Deion Jones (23) – LSU's stacked linebacking corps heading into this season has begun to work itself out in terms of which personnel is floating to the top and which guys may be taking a step back. Jones belongs more in the latter camp. The speedster from Jesuit definitely falls in line behind up-and-coming Mike linebacker Lamar Louis (No. 29 in our rankings) in terms of importance to the corps, and the same may be true with pass-rushing specialist Kendell Beckwith (No. 47). Right now Jones appears to be battling with Lorenzo Phillips (unranked) for time with the second team.
Greg Gilmore (36) – Our original top 50 had Gilmore at No. 36 and Christian LaCouture at No. 37. One of those two true freshman DTs has excelled early in his LSU career, grabbing a spot on the second team, and the other has been Gilmore. It's looking more and more like the former Scout.com five-star is a viable redshirt candidate. The Tigers have even begun slapping Gilmore's No. 99 jersey onto OL Jonah Austin in certain goal-line sets. That can't speak well to Gilmore's chances of seeing the field.
Looking Into the Future
- With reliable personnel in the secondary still a bit of a moving target two games in, there are two more names to monitor who could soon be ascending on this list. The first is sophomore safety Corey Thompson, who TSD had at No. 25 in our preseason rankings. If starting free safety Ronald Martin (No. 16) can't fend off Thompson for more time, it's possible these two could essentially swap positions in the rankings. Also, it was eye-opening that true frosh CB Rashard Robinson figured into the game against UAB after just arriving on campus less than two weeks earlier. Should his progression continue at its current rate, Robinson (unranked) would at least merit a place in the top 50, probably higher than where LSU's current dime back – Dwayne Thomas – is at No. 50.
Who's caught your eye so far on LSU's team?