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Between losing two of his assistant coaches to other prominent southern programs and the hiring of former LSU coach Nick Saban at Alabama, LSU coach Les Miles took his share of shots during the recruiting process.

Some of those were from Saban himself. LSU recruits told various media outlets that Saban claimed he and his staff were largely responsible for LSU's success the last two seasons.

Without naming names or identifying programs, Miles said, "I can tell you there was some negative recruiting going on out there. In this recruiting season, I thought what appeared to be breaking of rules was much more rampant."

Depending on the recruiting service, LSU's 26-member class has been ranked anywhere from second to seventh in the nation.

"I think that whatever was used against our staff obviously didn't work," Miles said.

Recruiting rankings don't matter nearly as much as meeting needs with quality players, and the Tigers appeared to do that. Even though LSU missed out on one of the nation's top players and the state's top recruit when running back Joe McKnight signed with USC, the Tigers signed 11 in-state players and four Parade All-Americans.

More important, the Tigers addressed key needs at defensive end, safety, wide receiver, offensive line and quarterback. The best of the bunch might be the receiving trio of Parade All-Americans Terrance Toliver and DeAngelo Benton and junior college All-American Demetrius Byrd.


--WRs Terrance Toliver, Hempstead, Texas; DeAngelo Benton, Bastrop, La.; and Demetrius Byrd, Miami, Fla. -- With the loss of Dewayne Bowe and Craig Davis and Early Doucet moving into his senior season, the Tigers brought in three receivers who can make an immediate impact in the fall. The expectations are particularly high for Byrd, a juco All-American from Pearl River (Miss.) Community College.

--DB Chad Jones, New Orleans -- Jones, one of four Parade All-Americans in LSU's signing class, will get a chance to compete for playing time at either safety spot following the loss of starters LaRon Landry and Jessie Daniels.

--DL Will Blackwell, West Monroe, La.; Sidell Corley, Mobile, Ala.; and Joseph Barksdale, Detroit -- The Tigers added two standout defensive ends in Blackwell and Corley and a 6-6, 315-pound tackle in Barksdale. That's three more players who could make a talented defensive line even better.


--When offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher left for the same position at Florida State and offensive line coach Stacy Searels left for the same job at Georgia, LSU fans were wondering how coach Les Miles could lose two established assistant coaches who also worked for former coach Nick Saban. The pressure will be on new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa to make a quick transition and live up to high expectations almost immediately, or the comparisons to Fisher and Searels could begin to snowball. Crowton, a former Louisiana Tech head coach, came to LSU from Oregon. Studrawa came from Bowling Green, where he was the offensive coordinator the last four years.

--Various news reports out of New Orleans claim sophomore QB Ryan Perrilloux is allegedly involved in a federal criminal probe into possible counterfeit charges. Neither the investigators nor Perrilloux's attorney or LSU coaches have commented on the situation. Perrilloux was one of the nation's top prospects when he signed with LSU in February 2005, but he has yet to play a significant role with the Tigers.

--As excited as LSU coaches are over the signing of All-American S Chad Jones, they also know he might not make it to campus in August. Jones is also a left-handed pitcher and outfielder and a prospect for Major League Baseball's June draft.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Speed, size and strength -- we have a great balance in this class." -- LSU coach Les Miles.


GLANCE AT 2007: The Tigers lose some valuable seniors as well as junior QB JaMarcus Russell to the NFL Draft, but the foundation is solid and the younger classes are filled with talent. The coaches have a lot of faith in backup quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Ryan Perilloux, so the potential loss of Russell might not be as damaging as it would be at some programs. If the young receivers, tailbacks and safeties grow up quickly, the Tigers should have the talent, depth and schedule to win the SEC West, play for the SEC championship and contend for a national title.


--QB JaMarcus Russell -- Russell could have returned for his senior season as one of the nation's top Heisman Trophy candidates, but the chance to be drafted No. 1 overall was too much to pass up. With Russell's combination of size, arm strength, mobility and the progress he made as a decision-maker in 2006, some mock drafts and draft previews expect him to be the first quarterback selected and possibly the first player chosen overall by the Oakland Raiders.

--FS LaRon Landry -- Landry, a four-year starter, is generally regarded as one of the 2-3 best free safeties in the draft and is regarded as a potential first-round pick. Landry has the combination of size, speed, instincts and intelligence to be a standout at the next level.

--WR Dwayne Bowe -- He had some problems with drops in 2005 and sought help for vision correction. Once he took care of that he became a more solid, consistent receiver with 60 receptions and 11 TD catches this season. At 6-2, 220 pounds, Bowe entered the offseason as one of the top five senior receivers in the draft and a likely second-round pick and then proceeded to emerge as one of the top players of any position during Senior Bowl week. Now some draft previews see him as one of the top 2-3 receivers and a possible first-round selection.

--WR Craig Davis -- He isn't as physically impressive as Bowe, but Davis has better hands and a reputation as a tireless worker who learns quickly and does whatever he needs to do to get the job done. That should help him go as high as the second round.

--SS Jessie Daniels -- Like Landry, he's a four-year starter. Unlike Landry, he's something of a one-dimensional player. He's at his best against the run but often struggles in coverage, a concern that could drop him to the later rounds. Even as a run-stopper NFL teams don't see him as a big hitter at the next level, so Daniels won't likely be selected until the sixth round.

--DE Chase Pittman -- NFL teams see him as a marginal athlete with limited quickness. Still, he's capable of playing more than one position in different schemes up front and is seen as a potential fifth-round pick.

ROSTER REPORT: Even though the competition for the starting quarterback job will become a reality in the spring, LSU coach Les Miles practically declared senior-to-be Matt Flynn the Tigers' next starting quarterback at a recent LSU Board of Supervisors meeting. Miles introduced Flynn to LSU's governing board as the player "who very comfortably appears to be our next quarterback." Meanwhile, Miles failed to mention the status of sophomore-to-be Ryan Perrilloux, who is expected to push Flynn for the job.

Previous Report: 01/10/2007




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