With all he accomplished in five
years in Baton
Rouge, Nick Saban left some mighty big shoes to
There was little doubt Saban left
the ranks of the Southeastern Conference as one of the most successful and
talented coaches ever to lead a team in the league. His resume speaks for itself
– 48 wins, two SEC titles and a national championship.
While what Saban was able to
accomplish on the gridiron is obvious, the reason why he was so successful may
be his biggest legacy in Baton
Rouge. As Saban will be remembered for his coaching
prowess during his half-decade stay in Tiger Town, his success on the recruiting trail
ranks right up there with his coaching abilities.
In five seasons, Saban reeled in
the nation’s top class in 2003, twice had the No. 2 ranked collection of
recruits (2001, 2004) and rapidly grew his reputation as the most successful
recruiter this conference (maybe the country) had ever seen.
These days, Saban has the luxury of
not having to bother recruiting players. As the coach of the Miami Dolphins,
things run a bit different in the professional ranks. Now, all focus turns to
first year LSU coach Les Miles.
Fans gave Miles a break when his
(unofficially) first recruiting class didn’t draw a top 10 ranking. Given the
fact Miles had exactly one month to try and sew up the final few commitments on
the 2005 class of prospects, even the diehard recruiting junkies said it was a
tall task for Miles and a skeleton staff.
However, Miles gave Tiger fans hope
when he pulled off a last minute coup securing the services of four-star
prospects R.J. Jackson, Brandon LaFell and Rickey Jean-Francois. Plus, toss in
the nation’s top quarterback prospect – East St.
John’s Ryan Perrilloux – and one could say Miles finished in strong
But it is a new recruiting season
and this time Miles will be under the microscope of sorts. With a full
compliment of assistant coaches and a year to work his recruiting magic, eager
LSU fans are going to wait and see if Miles can live up to the high level of
expectations created during the Saban era.
Some of Miles top targets include
Northport (Ala.) standout Chris Smelley. Rayville
back Richard Murphy is regarded as the top running back in the state, a prospect
which expect to pull the trigger on LSU.
With Perrilloux already on campus,
some think East St. John wide receiver Ricky Dixon is a lock to be a Tiger. But arguably the nation’s top wide receiver
prospect will need the necessary coaxing to choose LSU.
Offensive lineman Trent Williams of
Longview Texas leads a lengthy list of recruits which
Miles will target this fall. With LSU losing three starting offensive lineman
after this season (Rudy Niswanger, Andrew Whitworth, Nate Livings), the O-line
will be one of the main points of emphasis for Miles’ recruiting
Meadville, Miss. defensive end Marcus Tillman headlines
the group of ends Miles will pursue in this recruiting season. And Chaz
Destrehan is probably the biggest target for the Tiger coach staff at the down
tackle spot. When you speak of Washington, one has to think is Miles can
attract the attention of the big man, Destrehan teammate Jai Eugene, one of the
nation’s top cornerback prospects, is likely to follow.
In the upcoming edition of Tiger
Rag, we break down each position giving you inside and analysis on all the
prospects on the LSU radar screen. Plus, Sonny
Shipp breaks down the Louisiana Top 30 and beyond.
While there is still nine months
until signing day next February, Miles has already secured commitments from four
prospects, the most recent coming last Tuesday from Ruston (La.) High School defensive end Lazarius Livingston.
Livingston (6-3, 252) saw one of his longtime dreams come
true on Sunday when he received an official scholarship offer from the LSU
Tigers. It took Livingston all of two seconds
to give LSU head coach Les Miles a definitive “yes” when asked if he wanted to
be a Tiger.
“I called coach Miles up like he
wanted me to and after a few minutes he said he wanted to give me an offer,”
Livingston told Tiger Rag. “I knew that was
where I wanted to go all along so I gave him an answer right then.”
The offer caught Livingston by surprise because he was not expecting any
offers until coaches got a chance to see him in action during his senior
campaign. Everyone knew that he had the talent to play major college football
but there was a question mark concerning his knee. Livingston blew out his knee in the third game of the 2004
campaign but after many months of intensive rehab he has recovered nicely and is
almost back to 100 percent.
“The knee feels good right now,” he
said. “I’m moving around pretty good and it’s not anything to worry about.”
Though he had limited action last
season Livingston showed he was an aggressive
player with a lot of quickness. Before the injury he had a great first step and
was very explosive coming off the edge. It looks like he regained that
explosiveness because all it took was one time for the LSU coaches to see him in
pads to realize he was too good to let slip away.
“They said they like the way I get
after it and think I can give them a good rush coming off the edge,” Livingston said. “They said they have a few defensive ends
that they really like and after seeing me at practice that I was one they had to
Livingston said he is close to qualifying and only needs
to pick up his ACT score by a couple of points to get that out of the
Klein (Tx.) - Hollins High
offensive lineman Matt Allen (6-3, 280) had scholarship offers from Oklahoma State, Kansas
State, Auburn and Houston, but was hoping he would pick up an
offer from the Tigers. When Miles summoned him in to his office in early April,
everything came to fruition.
“He brought me in and said we
really like you,” Allen said. “He told me I play hard and I’m real aggressive
and he would love to have me on his team. After I heard that I accepted the
Allen said he grew up watching the
Tigers on TV and was always blown away by the atmosphere. That was a big reason
he developed a passion for LSU football.
“The crowds they bring in are
unbelievable,” he said. “They bring in over a 100,000 and I’ve always dreamed of
playing in an atmosphere like that. It’s definitely been a goal of mine since
high school and it definitely came true on Saturday.”
Lafayette-Acadiana linebacker Jacob Cutrera may live in the land of Ragin’
Cajuns, but the state’s top linebacker said it was
Cutrera (6-4, 225, 4.5) had hoped
Les Miles would offer him a scholarship and when the two met briefly in the
Lawton Room after LSU‘s Spring Scrimmage, Miles let him know how bad he wanted
“He walked in and said I was going
to be on his team and that they wanted me,” Cutrera said. “He said it didn’t
matter if he offered now or later because I was going to be an LSU Tiger so he
said lets get it over with.”
Ole Miss, Clemson and New Mexico State were Cutrera’s other offers but he
knew where he was headed all along.
“On the way over to the scrimmage
we decided that if they (LSU) offered I would commit,” said Cutrera. “I grew up
an LSU fan and wanted to get it out of the way so I could focus on my senior
season. I knew LSU was where I wanted to go so why wait?”
Now, the only waiting Cutrera has
left is for that first Saturday night in Death
Valley when he takes the field in front of more than 92,000
screaming Tiger fans.
“I don’t know what to expect from
that,” he said. “I was on the sideline for the Ole Miss game last year and you
could feel the electricity so much more than in the stands. I can’t wait to walk
out on that field as an LSU Tiger.”
LSU’s fourth commitment is
Dodge City (Kan.) CC offensive lineman Anthony Boudreaux.
The 6-8, 360-pounder signed with
the Tigers in 2004 out of Chalmette (La.) but he was forced to go the juco route
because he failed to qualify academically.
Boudreaux said he never lost sight
of his goal of playing for the Tigers and he was thrilled about being Miles’
first pledge for 2006.
“LSU was always the place I wanted
to go and I’m excited to be a Tiger,” Boudreaux said. “It has always been a
dream of mine and I’m glad the coaches never forgot about me.”
Boudreaux said he is on pace to
graduate in December and he will have three years to play two.
Miles may have a great deal to live
up to in the wake of the Saban era, but he has hit the ground running and seems
off to a good start.