Derek Dooley-led renewed investment in football recruiting at Louisiana Tech has begun to manifest itself in recent years. The 2008 and 2009 classes were both ranked in the top third of the Western Athletic Conference and a number of underclassmen from Dooley's classes (2007- ) have played substantial roles in the football team's recent success.
But how have Louisiana Tech's recruiting efforts panned out, historically? Have Dooley's recruits performed better than the players signed by previous head coach Jack Bicknell? Networks such as Scout began tracking the recruiting process in the earlier part of this decade. For the purposes of this article, we will begin our investigation with 2003's collection of signees.
We will individually evaluate the members of each class and quantify their contribution to the Louisiana Tech football team using a 3-tiered scale. Players that signed and made absolutely no contribution will be awarded 0 points. Those that served as quality backups and/or started ten or fewer games will be awarded 1 point. Finally, those that started at least 11 games at Louisiana Tech will be awarded 2 points. In the event that a player fell into a gray area, I will judge the player at my discretion and provide relevant commentary. After a given year's signing class has been fully evaluated in this manner, the totals will be added and that year's CPP (Class Participation Percentage) will be calculated. Based on this information, I will then draw particular conclusions and provide commentary for each year's haul.
[Note: "TOS" refers to "The Other Site"]
OVERALL CLASS RANKINGS
Scout – #49 Nationally, #1 WAC, #2 in Louisiana
TOS – #94 Nationally, #7 WAC, #5 in Louisiana
James Atkins | DE | Hattiesburg, MS
Atkins was a Junior College defensive end from Mississippi. A three star player according to Scout, Atkins recording no stats had no impact on the Louisiana Tech football team.
Kevin Bagot | OL | Houston, TX
Bagot, a huge OL from the Houston area, was expected to be a major contributor to the Tech offensive line before his career was over. However, he arrived too big and got even bigger. Bagot had minimal participation and never started a game in his Louisiana Tech career.
Seneca Chambers | WR | Raymond, MS
Chambers contributed in every game during his 2-year career and started every game his senior season. Though never flashy, the 6'2 wide receiver from the Mississippi JUCO system caught some key balls and was a valuable asset to the squad. He had some drops, but there wasn't a receiver on the team during this era that didn't drop their fair share of footballs.
Zac Champion | QB | Bessemer, AL
Champion arrived in Ruston as a highly touted (3 stars on both recruiting sites) quarterback from Alabama. He arrived to Tech early and participated in Spring drills before his freshman year. After taking a redshirt and sitting during the Matt Kubik / Donald Allen era, Champion started his final two years at Tech. Champion is perhaps most remembered for his touchdown pass to Jonathan Holland against Nebraska.
Hiram Eugene | DB | Jeanerette, LA
Eugene is a very interesting case. This DB from Pearl River CC came to Tech late in the recruiting process and was very highly regarded. However, he never lived up to the hype in Ruston, starting a handful of games, participating in a few others, and leaving the team prematurely. Eugene later proved to be a formidable pro, however, by playing a big part in the Oakland Raider defensive backfield. Because that talent never translated to Joe Aillet Stadium, Eugene is awarded only 1 point.
Kermit Givens | RB | New Orleans, LA
This flashy RB from the New Orleans area had a ton of promise, but didn't even come close to living up to it. Tech fans were wowed by his amazing highlight video, but Givens was kicked off of the team for burglary shortly after arriving in Ruston. Another big time miss in this recruiting class.
Jason Gooch | OL | Vidor, TX
Admittedly, my memory is a bit sketchy in regards to Gooch's Louisiana Tech career. As such, I don't believe he contributed much (if at all) on the field. If I'm incorrect and this player deserves a participation point, post on the forum and let me know.
Kentrell Gransberry | WR | Baton Rouge, LA
The enigmatic Kentrell Gransberry is one of the more interesting Louisiana Tech recruiting stories of this decade. The too-tall (6'8'') wideout from Woodlawn HS in Baton Rouge was perhaps THE most anticipated member of the 2002 recruiting class. However, he was almost immediately kicked off of the team alongside Givens. Gransberry later resurfaced as a stud junior college basketball prospect, signing with LSU in 2005. Gransberry, however, had no impact in Baton Rouge and ended his collegiate career as a major disappointment in two sports at two separate institutions.
Jonathan Holland | WR | Mangham, LA
Holland proved to be a very productive two-year starter for the Louisiana Tech football team even if it could be argued that he never fully realized his potential. The super-fast wideout from Mangham earned the title of "fastest man in the WAC" in 2006 by winning the 100m title at the WAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and cemented himself in Tech lore with a remarkable one-handed catch against Nebraska. That catch was a finalist for ESPN's Pontiac Game Changing Performance of the year, and is perhaps one of the most iconic images in Louisiana Tech football history. Holland later tried his hand at the NFL with the Oakland Raiders, but got injured in training camp and received an injury settlement. Holland is one of the few no-brainer 2 point signees in this class.
Brannon Jackson | LB | Lake Charles, LA
Jackson was a 4-year contributor at Louisiana Tech, and that alone earns him 2 points. Even so, Jackson never dominated games the way many Louisiana Tech fans expected him to. Jackson ballooned to 260 pounds over the course of his career, and just got too big to dominate the middle of the field and roam sideline-to-sideline. His size earned him a reputation as a big hitter, but this only materialized during a handful of moments on the field. Nonetheless, Jackson lived up to his billing as a quality linebacker and was one of the more productive members of this class.
Johnny Jackson | DT | Aliceville, AL
This defensive end / defensive tackle hybrid (6'7 280) from East Mississippi Community College never lived up to the promise made by his measurables and never contributed at Louisiana Tech. Jackson was a large bust, both figuratively and literally.
T.J. Jackson | LB | Columbia, MS
Jackson arrived as one the most heralded member of the 2003 class, earning four-star honors (though this, along with other Scout ratings at this time, is VERY dubious, as will be discussed later). Jackson came right in and was an immediate presence at linebacker, participating from the opening game of his first season. He recorded 33 tackles in 9 games in 2004. However, he never started and was radically outclassed in his second season by fellow junior college signee Barry Robertson, thus relegating him to 2nd string (and 1 participation point) status.
Jason Lewis | OL | St. James, LA
Lewis made no impact at Louisiana Tech. There's not much else to say on this one. Does anyone have more on this player? Post in the forum!
Tyler Miller | OL | Waco, TX
There is no question that Miller was a 2-point contributor to Louisiana Tech. The 6'7 man-wall was a multi-year starter at the most important non-quarterback position on the offense – left tackle – and earned All-Conference honors. In fact, I will go ahead and proclaim Miller the single best player to come out of this signing class. This was a definite hit for Coach Jack Bicknell.
Eddie Moss | DE | Scooba, MS
Eddie Moss arrived from East Mississippi Community College (notice a trend?) and made a moderate impact at defensive end over his two seasons in Ruston. Now, the fact that Tech's defense was pretty horrible in these two years could be held against Moss and other defensive signees, but the rotating door at defensive coordinator and lack of continuity in defensive scheming had just as much to do with this as the talent level. Moss gets 1 point for steady participation over a two year period.
Josh Muse | DT | Denham Springs, LA
Another no-brainer 2 point participant, Muse was a great defensive tackle for Tech and a four-year contributor. Though not the player Quincy Myles was nor, later, D'Anthony Smith turned out to be, Muse was more than steady in the middle of the defensive line and there shouldn't be any question that this big defensive tackle from the Baton Rouge area deserves 2 participation points.
Zach Myatt | K | College Station, TX
Oh man, its the infamous Zach Myatt. Though ‘only' a kicker, Myatt arrived in Ruston as the highest regarded member of the 2003 recruiting class, earning Parade All-America honors and claims as the best kicking prospect in the country...whoops. Myatt never stepped on a football field in a Louisiana Tech uniform and never learned how to kick without the aid of a tee. Myatt could be considered one of the biggest disappointments in the history of Louisiana Tech recruiting, and there is absolutely zero hyperbole in that statement.
Shelton Richardson | RB | Goodman, MS
Another highly touted junior college prospect from Mississippi, and another complete washout at Louisiana Tech. Shelton Richardson was supposed to be the Next Big Thing at running back after the graduation of Joe Smith (we won't EVEN get into the Ralph Davis fiasco). However, a funny thing happened along the way. An unknown 5'8 kid from Dallas took the field (and Louisiana Tech's campus) by storm and never looked back, leaving little room for Richardson to make an impact.
Thaddeus Williams | DE | Independence, LA
The coaching staff started him at defensive end, then moved him to tight end, then moved him back to defensive end and, in the end, it didn't really make a difference. Williams arrived as an undersized (210 pound) defensive end and never really developed the size nor athleticism needed to contribute at the collegiate level.
Bryon Young | LB | Bossier City, LA
This big linebacker from Bossier High had all of the tools to be a big time college player, but never got his head on right and seemed to have a tough time finding his way to class (hey Bryon, its probably in GTM). Young never contributed, and that's a shame because he really was a super-athletic guy for his size. Sometimes players just aren't cut out for the grind of big time college football.
Total Possible Participation Points: 40
Participation Points Awarded: 15
Jack Bicknell's practice of heavily recruiting the Mississippi Junior Colleges was always a hot-button issue amongst Louisiana Tech fans during his tenure, and there might be no better evidence AGAINST this policy than the atrocious 37.5% CPP of the 2003 recruiting class. Here's why: of the 14 possible Participation Points available to Louisiana Tech's 2003 Junior College signees, the seven JUCO players only netted 5 PP's, for a dismal CPP of 35.7%. While this is reasonably close to the CPP obtained by Louisiana Tech's 2003 high school signees (10 of 26 possible PP's for a CPP of 38.4%), JUCO signees are expected to contribute IMMEDIATELY. The fact that these Junior College players failed to participate as much as even the HS players in their own recruiting class is a gigantic failure.
Though this was an atrocious recruiting class by this measure, Tech did land a handful of All-Decade quality players here. Tyler Miller, Josh Muse, Jonathan Holland and Brannon Jackson are all at least in the All-Decade discussion at their positions and, ironically enough, ALL of these guys were high school signees.
Lastly, I just cannot comment on this class without mentioning the GIGANTIC disparity between the Scout and TOS rankings. TOS ranks this class as one of the worst of the 2000's for Louisiana Tech. Tech's class was ranked fifth IN THE STATE (!) behind the likes of ULL, ULM, and Tulane. And, though Tech fans were screaming bias at the time, history (and the 37.5% CPP) supports this ranking.
Scout, meanwhile, had this rated as the 49th best class in the country, an abnormally high ranking for Louisiana Tech at the time. This was due to very high individual ratings for players like T.J Jackson (4 star), Zach Myatt (4 star), and Lester Brown (4 star that I don't even mention as he never even made it to campus), and countless 3 star signees. The reason for these abnormally high numbers is up for discussion, though most agree and acknowledge that a particular recruiting analyst with family ties to Louisiana Tech was working for Scout at the time. One thing is for certain: this class didn't play anywhere NEAR the level of a Top 50 national ranking.