On Friday, LSU will send 25 seniors through the tunnel at Tiger Stadium for the final time.
With Patrick Peterson and Stevan Ridley gone from the bunch a season earlier, it’s time to look back at how the recruitment process panned out for the 18 scholarship players that the staff will send off on Friday.
Jarrett Lee arrived to LSU first, signing on with the Tigers in 2007. A four-star prospect out of Brenham, Texas, Lee was the No. 15-ranked quarterback in the country.
After a rollercoaster career in Baton Rouge with a handful of highs and its fair share of lows, Lee stepped back in as the starter in September and the Tigers reeled off nine wins in a row.
That’s when Jordan Jefferson stepped back into the picture, and the St. Rose native helped pull out a win at Alabama on Nov. 5 and has started both games since.
Jefferson, who committed to the Tigers a year after Lee, exited high school as the No. 18-ranked quarterback in the country
Jefferson has compiled a 22-7 record in Baton Rouge, while Lee holds a 14-9 record.
No matter how the season finishes, no matter which team holds up the crystal ball, the story of this quarterback battle will likely live on in Tiger history for a long time to come.
If you’re digging through old signing classes to find James Stampley, stop.
LSU would eventually burn through a couple of scholarships on fullbacks that dropped from the program, but Stampley – a walk-on in 2009 – was a free gift that coach Les Miles certainly didn’t want to return.
Stampley, a hard-hitting blocker who scored the first touchdown of his career in last week’s win over Ole Miss, is a converted center who played on the offensive line at Baker.
A four-star prospect out of New Iberia, Mitch Joseph signed on with LSU in 2007. With his signature, the Tigers grabbed the nation’s No. 5-ranked tight end – and arguably the best blocking tight end high school football had to offer.
After a redshirt season, Joseph played in all 13 games in 2008 and has served as the team’s chief blocking tight end since.
A year after Joseph signed, the Tigers went the other way by grabbing DeAngelo Peterson – one of the top athletes in the country. A four-star prospect, Peterson projected as a wide receiver or a safety, but after growing to 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, the staff moved Peterson to tight end.
Peterson began playing immediately, and saw action in all 13 games as a freshman and sophomore before missing the first three games of 2010 with an ankle injury.
Peterson has caught 15 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown this season.
Four linemen will dress out at home for a final time on Friday: Will Blackwell, Greg Shaw, T-Bob Hebert and Josh Dworaczyk – though Miles said they would seek a sixth year for Dworaczyk, who has sat out all season because of injury.
Shaw, the nation’s No. 42-ranked offensive tackle, is the lone 2008 signee of the bunch, and the Florida native has been a big benefit at tackle when the Tigers have had to go without Alex Hurst or Chris Faulk over the past two seasons.
Hebert, a four-star and the No. 8 center prospect in the 2007 class, was the highest rated of the group. Over the past five years, the versatile lineman has started double-digit games and played center and both guard spots.
Dworaczyk, who was injured before the season but served as a starting guard in 23 straight games prior, was the surprise of the bunch. Coming out of high school in New Iberia, Dworaczyk was just a three-star and the No. 78 offensive tackle prospect in the country.
Blackwell’s path first made a stop on the defensive line, where he got snaps at West Monroe and earned a four-star ranking. But the nation’s No. 22 defensive tackle prospect was moved to offensive guard in college, where he has started in all 11 games this season.
When then recruiting coordinator Larry Porter recruited Alex Russian out of Round Rock, Texas, the LSU assistant coach liked the 6-foot-4, 220-pound tight end’s athleticism when running routes, but apparently liked his deep snapping even more.
By his sophomore year in 2008, Russian got the majority of his action as the snapper on punts and placekicks. He started the first four games of 2009 at the position, but was eventually bumped from his post by Joey Crappell.
Crappell, a former walk-on, started every game of 2009 as the snapper on field goals, and eventually took over for Russian on punts. He played in all 13 games in 2010 and has played in every game this season.
In the debate of whether to hand a scholarship to a long snapper, the walk-on won this battle.
The lone senior on the defensive line, Kendrick Adams joined LSU in 2010 after two years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi.
The Enterprise, Ala., native made an immediate impact at defensive end in Baton Rouge, starting in 11 games in 2010, when he finished with 27 tackles.
In eight starts and nine games played this fall, Adams has 17 tackles.
Three senior linebackers will play in their final time in Death Valley, a trio led by Ryan Baker – a former four-star prospect and the No. 7-ranked middle linebacker in the 2008 class.
In 10 starts this season, Baker is fourth on the team in tackles with 53, and his 37 assisted stops ranks first on the team.
Hatcher, a four-star prospect, was the No. 16 safety in the 2008 class, while Francois, also a four-star prospect, was the No. 8 safety in the 2007 class.
The two have combined to make 31 tackles this season. In 2010, Hatcher was third on the team with 64 tackles, while Francois racked up 37 stops.
Three senior defensive backs are on their way out, none of which entered the program at the same position they will leave at.
Brandon Taylor came to campus as the No. 17 cornerback prospect in the 2008 class, but moved to strong safety in 2009 – where he has remained a starter since.
Ron Brooks, one of the team’s hottest defensive players right now, is used to shutting down opposing offenses from his cornerback spot, but that hasn’t always been the case. Coming out of Irving, Texas, in 2007, Brooks was a quarterback that was projected as a four-star and the No. 6 wide receiver prospect in the class.
Safety Derrick Bryant, who could see increased action on Friday if sophomore safety Eric Reid is too injured to compete, entered LSU as the No. 34 cornerback prospect in the 2008 class. Bryant immediately played as a gunner on special teams, and Bryant eventually shifted to safety, where he has played in 34 games without a start.