Friday, April 27, 2012
LSU's success at DT speaks for itself
By David Helman
Anyone that wants an example of LSU's success at the defensive tackle position need only have tuned into the first round coverage of this year's NFL draft on Thursday night.
Michael Brockers will leave a big hole for LSU to fill.
The Tigers' success at creating next level defensive tackles was on display in New York City, and the evidence was hard to miss in the form of 6-foot-6, 322-pound Michael Brockers, who was selected No. 14 overall by the St. Louis Rams.
Brockers' success, fueled largely by his dominant play on LSU's path to the BCS title game, is only the most recent story in what is becoming quite a tradition of success for defensive linemen. LSU is currently getting plenty of publicity for being Defensive Back U, as it is the home of first round picks and Thorpe Award winners Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne, as well as Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu.
The DBU hype is deserved. But consider this stat: the Tigers have had at least one defensive lineman taken in the NFL draft in nine consecutive years, including Brockers' selection Thursday. Nine straight years -- that is not a typo.
Of course not all of those have been defensive tackles, but the point remains the same. LSU has captured two national championships and four SEC championships in the past decade with a lot of help from dominant defensive fronts, and that onfield success has translated well to the professional level.
The success stories range to all categories as well. Glenn Dorsey was a five-star recruit who blossomed into an All-American at defensive tackle before earning the No. 5 selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Al Woods was a similar super-recruit, rated the second-best defensive tackle in his class. He didn't deliver on much of that promise, with just 16 starts, 73 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Despite that, Woods was still drafted 123rd overall in 2010.
Tiger draftees like defensive tackle Kyle Williams have gone on to be Pro Bowl selections, while others like Ricky Jean-Francois have managed to find niches as role players. Brockers, the most recent addition to that list, didn't even earn his scholarship to LSU as a defensive tackle. Brockers came from Houston as a highly-rated defensive end before making an impact in the spot left open by the departure of defensive tackle Lazarius Levingston (another defensive tackle draft pick).
Brockers vaulted into the draft's first round on the strength of just 15 total starts, with 14 of those coming in LSU's spectacular 2011 season. And the odds are good that he won't be the last run-stuffer to benefit from the Tigers' high level of play. Bennie Logan, Brockers' partner in crime at defensive tackle last fall, was eligible to enter this year's draft but opted to stay. Only a junior, the NFL almost assuredly awaits him after the 2012 or 2013 season.
LSU's recruitment at the tackle spot hasn't slowed either. Behind Logan waits Anthony Johnson, the nation's consensus No. 1 defensive tackle in 2010 and a 2011 Freshman All-American, as well as fellow former ESPN 150 member Ego Ferguson. The Tigers' track record speaks for itself with regard to their future prospects.
That's about a dozen arguments for why any defensive tackle in the nation should be interested in attending LSU. It's slightly harder coming up with a reason not to.