Scott and Black announced that they would pass on the NFL draft during a 2 p.m. press conference, where they were joined by head coach Les Miles.
“I feel like for the past three years LSU has been my home. I love this place and this university. The atmosphere is great. I love all the fans; it’s a great atmosphere all together. I feel like coming back for a fourth year is a good decision. I’m definitely coming back next year,” Scott said in his opening statement.
“I did a lot of praying with my family and a lot of talking with my coaches and I came out with the conclusion that it would be really good for me to come back for my senior season,” added Black.
The decision that both Scott and Black rendered on Wednesday made LSU fans smile because of their value on the football field. However, it brought a smile to Miles’ face for a few other reasons as well.
“If you listen to those guys talk, they put a priority on their team and education,” Miles said. “Their experience here is what you focus on and I promise you I’ve spent a little time … This is a time when the decisions are made by the people who are affected the most. I can only tell you that it’s a very unselfish decision.”
Scott started all 13 games at tailback for the Tigers this past season, ranking fourth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing with 90.8 yards per game. Scott also led the conference in rushing touchdowns with 18.
The Saline-native finished with 1, 174 yards on the year, which ranked No. 5 in school history.
Those accomplishments led to a mixed review from the NFL Advisory Board and that factored into Scott’s decision to return for his senior year, but it wasn’t the only reason.
“My grade was a third round grade,” Scott said. “It was a big part of my decision.”
“I don’t think I could leave this place without graduating and missing out on my senior year in college,” Scott continued. “I think my team really needs me and Ciron (Black) and other seniors to come back and be great leaders for this team.
“I feel like we can really be great next year if we have leadership. I found out academically that I’m 30 hours away from graduating, so that was real big in my decision. I feel like if I have a degree and have options once I graduate, that would be better for me.”
Black returns to the Tiger program after starting at left tackle for the last three seasons, a streak that ran to 40 straight games this past season.
The Tyler, Texas-native played a school record 1,031 snaps from scrimmage in 2007, followed by 884 snaps in his junior campaign.
Black’s grade from the NFL Advisory Board made his decision a little tougher to make as some had him pegged as a first round pick.
“I got a somewhat decent response from the committee,” Black said. “It was late first round or early second round. They tell you that, but it’s really more of a gamble because they don’t know who’s coming out at the time or what teams want. They gave me that response and it kind of makes you raise your eyebrows, but at the same time you have to be realistic and understand how everything really works as far as the teams and what they want.”
College coaches are put in a precarious situation when it comes to advising players on what they should do. On one hand they have think about the player’s future earnings potential and on the other hand they can get caught up in what is best for their program.
Miles said that he gives his players every piece of information that he gets and ultimately it’s up to the players and their family members to make the final call.
“Every guy’s decision is just a little different,” explained Miles. “They value being at LSU at different levels. Their need to get a degree is certainly key. It’s a decision where parents and support groups weigh in and try to give their best view…There are some decisions that are better than others, but I think these two decisions are very strong.”
Scott and Black both took the input they got from Miles into consideration and they also turned to some former teammates who are in the NFL for their perspective on things.
Scott said that he spoke with Jacob Hester and Joe Addai, while Black spoke with Glenn Dorsey.
Miles acknowledged that Ricky Jean-Francois is the only player that has declared for early entry into the NFL draft.
He also said that junior receiver Brandon LaFell still hasn’t made a decision and he has until Thursday at midnight to inform the NFL of his intentions. He does, however, have a three-day grace period where he can pull his name out of the draft and return to LSU.
“I know that (Brandon LaFell) is weighing his options, looking at it and evaluating it fully,” said Miles. “Again, these are very personal decisions. They are decisions that are made by family and friends and support groups and themselves. Understandably, they come to different conclusions. I think we’ll know about Brandon in the next four days.”
Should LaFell elect to leave then the Tigers will lose their two starting receivers from the 2008 season and there will be some holes to fill.
One way to fill those holes is by landing a couple of more wide outs in the 2009 recruiting class to go with Rayville product Kenny Bell.
“Certainly it would be a great need for wide receivers,” said Miles. “If that decision is employed.”
Attrition and Moves
Les Miles acknowledged that one player will not be returning this spring, but he was unsure of any other players and their intent to transfer to another school.
“Andrew Hatch will not be back,” Miles said. “From what I heard in the speculation is he may return to Harvard.”
Miles also said that Jared Mitchell will spend all of his spring on the baseball diamond for Paul Mainieri.
Dexter Pratt Update
Dexter Pratt was scheduled to enroll this spring along with the other five members from the 2009 class, but Miles said that he is still awaiting word from the NCAA Clearinghouse.
Miles did not have a timetable for when a decision should come on the situation.