These last few weeks for LSU fans have been a roller coaster to say the least. The BCS Championship Game to the Landon Collins and Gunner Kiel recruitment soap operas have left an awful taste in Baton Rouge.
Although it has been tough, it’s not like any other coach in the country wouldn’t love to have these “problems.” Les Miles has done a wonderful job at turning the page and focusing on the future. The next area of concern is to put the final pieces to an already outstanding 2012 recruiting class and head toward the spring. For much of the team, the spring is a time to improve abilities and try to make a move up the depth chart just before the beaches fill up for spring break.
To keep up with the theme of this being the initial ‘Farrer: In Focus’ and a new beginning for most of these players, let’s take a look at five potential breakout players:
When Landry arrived last summer for his freshman season, he suffered a broken hand that set his development back in camp before the season. That allowed others to take reps ahead of him and forced him to look for other ways to contribute.. He became a standout on special teams – a hard-hitting stud in the mold of a young Stevan Ridley. With the departure of Rueben Randle and the lack of experience at receiver, LSU should be ready to lean on Landry. His has soft hands and is explosive in and out of his breaks. Landry might not have the deep-ball ability like Randle, but Jarvis will go over the middle and pull down tough catches for Zach Mettenberger. At the end of the season, do not be surprised if Landry leads the team in all major receiving categories (he is that good).
2. Craig Loston
The safety position next to Eric Reid is empty with the departure of Brandon Taylor. While Taylor was an extremely cerebral player with tremendous instincts, Loston is an enforcer. The way he moves and flies to ball to unload on a ball-carrier is reminiscent of LaRon Landry. This is a perfect complement to Reid and could quite possibly be the most imposing defensive backfield in some time for the Tigers. Although Loston has the chance to be special, he has struggled with learning schemes and being in the correct place in his first two seasons. If he matures and becomes more reliable, then the sky is the limit with his kid and he will live up to being ranked the No. 1 safety out of high school.
John Chavis has put a premium on talented corners in the nickel, and Ron Brooks was a terror. Whether it was in coverage or blitzing the passer off the edge, he was constantly in the right place making plays. This position will be fought out through the spring to figure out who will be the third corner behind Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon. The favorite to emerge is sophomore Ronnie Vinson and for good reason. While Vinson was in high school, he was the most dominant player on the field even with Odell Beckham on the same team. The depth in the secondary has been well noted in the past, but Vinson has a chance to shine. His tackling and play at the line of scrimmage could use work, but the coverage ability and toughness is there. It is a long time before the start of next year, but you better believe Vinson knows the importance of this offseason.
4. Ego Ferguson
This might come as a surprise to a few folks who have overlooked Ferguson on the defensive line rotation. While Anthony Johnson and Bennie Logan have the upper hand in terms of experience and notoriety, Ferguson will have his chance to make a push in his sophomore season. He weighs in at 283 pounds and stands 6-foot-3 with power combined with an endless motor. In short appearances this season, Ferguson performed well. The defensive line is similar to the secondary, with players waiting in the wings to make a name for themselves. With another offseason in the weight room and technique work, he could be another future NFL Draft pick.
The tight end position is a forgotten position that suffered tremendously without a quality throwing quarterback. With the notion that Miles and his offensive coaches will make the offense more pass-oriented with Mettenberger, expect an increase in production from Clement. He possesses above-average hands with the strength to stay on the field for blocking purposes. Clement may not be near the explosive receiving threat that DeAngelo Peterson was, but he is more versatile and Mettenberger should enjoy having a safety net in Clement, who has the chance to become one of the better all-around tight ends in the SEC.
These are just a few players to keep an eye on over the next few weeks to get out of the recent letdown. LSU fans have experienced painful moments this month, but it is a scraped knee compared to what Cubs fans have gone through. So let’s take a page out of their book and “Just wait till next year!”
TigerSportsDigest.com intern Alex Farrer is a former LSU basketball player. He played on two SEC Championship teams (2006, 2009) and was a reserve on the Tigers 2006 Final Four team. He received a Bachelor's degree from the E.J. Ourso College of Business and a Masters degree in Sports Administration.