Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
One of the best recruiting jobs LSU coach Les Miles did this past offseason was holding onto senior offensive tackle Ciron Black.
In reality, I don't know how much recruiting Miles really did, but there's no denying how much better the Tigers will be with Black lining up at left tackle for another season.
Not only is he the best offensive tackle in the SEC, but he's the kind of strong-willed leader that keeps everybody accountable. In more ways than one, Black will be the Tigers' rock in 2009.
He insists that he hasn't regretted his decision to put off the NFL and return for his senior season one bit.
"I realized I had a lot more to do," said the 6-foot-5, 325-pound Black, who has started in 40 straight games at left tackle for the Tigers. "I have a lot more to work on in becoming a better player, a better all-around player."
When one of your best players has that kind of attitude, it typically rubs off on everyone else.
The other thing that sticks out about Black is that he's not a pass-the-blame kind of guy. Case in point: While many were blaming LSU's struggles last season on a lack of senior leadership, Black steadfastly refused to throw his former teammates under the bus.
That's refreshing, too, because how many times have we heard players talking about former teammates who've moved on (usually unnamed teammates) that were too selfish the year before or weren't in it for the team?
"The leadership was there," Black said. "Our mindset wasn't right, and things fell apart on us. We started getting bogged down late in the season and it kind of wore on us."
Black's only suggestion for the coaches heading into this season is to hammer away with the running game. He said the Tigers' backfield is "unbelievable" with the threesome of Charles Scott, Keiland Williams and Richard Murphy.
"Offensive linemen love coming off the ball and hitting somebody in the mouth," Black said.
Something tells me he'll get plenty of chances.