2008 was not the season any Tiger dreamed up.
The same can probably be said for the 2009 team, a side that dropped contests to the nation’s top two teams before a heartbreaking final-minute meltdown in Oxford.
Take it back two seasons, however, and better memories surface. Memories not of three-overtime losses, but of standing on the Superdome turf underneath a shower of purple and gold confetti as National Champions.
Thanks to the move of the Arkansas matchup from Friday to Saturday, 24 seniors will run out of the Tiger Stadium tunnel this weekend – at night - for the final time.
Here is a quick look at what men will be playing in their final LSU home game.
1 – Brandon LaFell – 6’3”, 206, WR – Houston, Texas
After a redshirt freshman season, the under-the-radar wide receiver blossomed into a Freshman All-SEC performer. Three seasons later, he will finish among the top-10 all-time Tigers in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. His 23 career touchdowns are three short of the school record (26) held by Dwayne Bowe.
5 – Keiland Williams – 6’0”, 220, RB – Lafayette, La.
No doubt that Williams, a five-star coming out of prep school at Hargrave Academy, is an explosive athlete. Yet, the masses point to Williams being underutilized. After he came off the bench and spelled Jacob Hester for two seasons, Williams stayed in the backseat his junior year, thanks in large-part to a poor offense and the successes of Charles Scott. When Scott went down in 2009, Williams showed his worth in carrying the team back to a second-half win over Louisiana Tech. Unfortunately, his final season ended with a broken ankle suffered against Ole Miss.
8 – Trindon Holliday – 5’5”, 161, RB – Zachary, La.
Holliday will leave LSU as not just the fastest player to ever suit up in purple and gold in Tiger Stadium, but among the fastest to ever play the game. Already a national champion in football, Holliday added an individual track championship this past season. An athlete that has seen time at both receiver and running back, he is known primarily for his special teams return duties, where Holliday holds the LSU career record for kickoff returns for a touchdown.
18 – Richard Dickson – 6’3”, 240, TE – Ocean Springs, Miss.
A four-year starter for the Tigers, Dickson entered his senior season with a shot at breaking every receiving record in school history for a tight end. Though he has been unable to grab a touchdown reception, his 10 scores over three seasons is tied with Brad Boyd for the most in school history. A two-time Second Team All-SEC performer, Dickson has fought off injury in 2009 and recorded 14 catches for 146 yards.
24 – Harry Coleman – 6’2”, 206, OLB – Baldwin, La.
Coleman made his safety debut in the national title game after Craig Steltz went down with a stinger, where his presence was felt with two tackles, one quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery. After Coleman finished his junior season with a team-high 71 tackles, first-year defensive coordinator John Chavis moved the long-time safety to linebacker. With 68 tackles, three forced fumbles and two quarterback hurries, Coleman said he is having the best year of his career.
Note: Coleman, a sixth-year Tiger, was a member of Nick Saban’s final recruiting class at LSU.
24 – Patrick Lipoma – 5’4”, 163, RB – Prairieville, La.
Lipoma served as a squad team running back during his four years in Baton Rouge.
27 – August Mangin – 5’10”, 201, FB – Lewisville, Texas
Mangin served as a squad team fullback during his four years in Baton Rouge.
28 – R.J. Jackson – 6’0”, 202, WR – Houston, Texas
Jackson’s career has been somewhat of a mystery. Brought in as a highly touted running back and arguably the most athletic player in the state of Texas, Jackson redshirted before splitting time at running back and receiver in the 2006 season. In 2007, Jackson saw action in all 14 games, but names like LaFell, Demetrius Byrd, Early Doucet and Terrance Tolliver were the spotlight men. His first career reception didn’t come until the 2008 bowl game against Georgia Tech, though he was the recipient of LSU’s Wild Tiger Special Teams Award following the season - the award is given to the player who shows the most consistent play on special teams. In 2009, Jackson caught 11 passes for 141 yards before suffering a broken foot in practice during Ole Miss preperations.
28 – Joe Maltempi – 5’8”, 173, DB – Chester, Va.
Maltempi served as a squad team defensive back during his four years in Baton Rouge.
29 – Chris Hawkins – 6’1”, 182, CB – Walker, La.
After taking a redshirt, Hawkins had his first big showing in Tiger Stadium against Louisiana Tech his sophomore season, where he recorded five tackles, all solo. In his junior year at right cornerback, Hawkins led the team in interceptions (3), pass breakups (9) and forced fumbles (2). Again a starter, his two interceptions in 2009 are tied for most on the team.
32 – Charles Scott – 6’0”, 234, RB – Saline, La.
Scott’s center stage moment came in 2008, when he started in all 13 games at tailback. Scott ranked fourth in the SEC in rushing (90.8 yards per game) after he finished with 1,174 yards – fifth most in school history. He also led the SEC in rushing touchdowns (18), which was good for seventh nationally. Prior to his final season being cut short to a broken collarbone suffered against Alabama, Scott had rushed for 555 yards and four touchdowns on 116 carries – his biggest afternoon coming behind a 95-yard, two-touchdown performance at Georgia.
40 – Orlando Gunn – 5’8”, 181, RB – Harker Heights, Texas
Gunn served as a squad team running back during his four years in Baton Rouge.
42 – David Impastato – 5’11”, 196, LB – River Ridge, La.
Impastato served as a squad team linebacker during his four years in Baton Rouge.
43 – Daniel Graff – 6’0”, 179, DB – Metairie, La.
After signing on at Louisiana-Lafayette on a track scholarship in 2005, Graff returned home to Metairie due to destruction caused to the family home as a result of Hurricane Katrina. He enrolled at the University of New Orleans in 2006 before he transferred to LSU – where he intercepted two Ryan Perrilloux passes in his first day at work with the squad team. His junior season, Graff finished with 11 special teams stops, which ranked among the most on the team. In 2009, the senior has recorded seven stops and emerged into one of the Tigers most sure special teams players.
44 – Danny McCray – 6’1”, 206, S – Houston, Texas
McCray, who played in all 13 games as a freshman, leads all Tigers with 184 career tackles. During his four seasons, McCray has lined up at safety, cover corner and blitzing linebacker – though he served primarily as a nickel back in 2008 and backup safety in 2009. McCray, who has earned 13 career starts, recorded a team-high two fumble recoveries in 2009.
52 – Ace Foyil – 6’3”, 230, LB – Madisonville, La.
Foyil, who played nine games and recorded 18 tackles for Tulane in 2005, transferred to LSU after Hurricane Katrina in 2006. After sitting all of 2006 and seeing action in one game in 2007, Foyil played nine games of 2008, a bulk of action coming on special teams, and finished the season with seven tackles. In 2009, Foyil has seen time in eight games and recorded five tackles.
54 – Jacob Cutrera – 6’4”, 236, LB – Lafayette, La.
Cutrera saw time immediately after arriving to Baton Rouge, filling in as the backup middle linebacker during the 2006 season – his highlight game coming in his only start, where he recorded a career-high and team-leading 11 tackles. After battling injuries over his next few seasons, Cutrera entered his senior campaign with five starts and 91 career tackles. His 66 tackles this season is fourth-best on the team, and his interception returned for a touchdown against Washington helped set the tone for the Tigers’ opening game win.
56 – Perry Riley – 6’2”, 245, LB – Ellenwood, Ga.
In 2008, during his first season in a starting role, Riley stormed onto the college football scene with 60 total tackles, including seven for losses, three pass break ups, three quarterback hurries and an interception en route to being named a Butkus Award Finalist. In the Chick-fil-A Bowl last December, Riley was named Defensive MVP behind a team-high and career-best 11 tackles against Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack. Under new defensive coordinator John Chavis, Riley has recorded 84 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
65 – Lyle Hitt – 6’2”, 295, OG – Baton Rouge, La.
Thanks to injuries on the offensive line, Hitt moved from defensive tackle to guard during his redshirt freshman season in 2006. By 2007, the sophomore was a fulltime starter – playing a total of 902 snaps. Hitt started all 13 games again in 2008, where he graded out at 85-percent or better in seven games. Hitt, who plans on attending medical school, has started every game at right guard for the Tigers this season.
70 – Ciron Black – 6’5”, 322, OT – Tyler, Texas
After earning Freshman All-SEC honors, Black was honored as a Second-Team All-SEC performer in both 2007 and 2008. In 2007, Black joined Herman Johnson as the only two players in school history to see action in over 1,000 plays from scrimmage in a single-season. Tabbed as the team leader on offense, Black passed up the NFL to return for his senior season – where he has started all 11 games.
84 – Rahim Alem – 6’3”, 263, DE – New Orleans, La.
A defensive end who made his living with the pass rush, Alem – formerly Al Jones, brother of Tiger safety Chad Jones, was redshirted in 2005 and played in six games without a start during his second season in Baton Rouge. As a redshirt sophomore, Alem played in 12 of LSU’s 14 games as a backup at right end. By 2008, Alem led the team with eight sacks and 11.5 tackles for losses despite starting in only game. He earned First Team All-SEC honors in the process. In his final season, Alem, now a fulltime starter, has recorded 32 stops, a team-high four sacks and a team-best four quarterback hurries.
86 – Chris Mitchell – 6’0”, 185, WR – Marrero, La.
Mitchell did not redshirt when he arrived to campus, instead playing in eight games with no starts – where he recorded just one catch for a 3-yard gain against Arizona in the second week of the season. After catching only three balls in an injury-plagued sophomore year, Mitchell turned his junior season into his most productive – catching eight passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns. In four starts and ten games played in 2009, the senior has caught 10 passes for 65 yards.
91 – Charles Alexander – 6’3”, 298, DT – Breaux Bridge, La.
A member of Nick Saban’s final recruiting class, Alexander was granted a sixth-year of eligibility by the NCAA in February of 2009. Alexander, who missed all but one game in 2005 and all but three games in 2007 to injury, was the only returning starter on the defensive line this season. Fortunately, the Breaux Bridge native has stayed healthy and has recorded 25 stops in 11 starts.
97 – Al Woods – 6’4”, 311, DT – Elton, La.
A top-ranked high school prospect, Woods played in six games, including the All-State Sugar Bowl, as a true freshman. A backup defensive lineman on the 2007 title team, Woods played in 12 of the Tigers’ 14 games, where he recorded 22 tackles, 13 solo, and two sacks. After a letdown 2008 campaign, Woods broke out with a great Spring Game in 2009 and looked poised to be a big part of the Tiger line. So far this fall, the senior has recorded 29 stops, and his blocked kick against Ole Miss last week led to a Patrick Peterson defensive touchdown.