It was a good day

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

I think we just got our swagger back.

After two straight years of being gutted by the NFL draft and four straight National Signing Days that failed to make a big splash, LSU finally flexed their muscles on the recruiting trail last week.

Sure, a few top-flight recruits got away but for the most part, the Tigers got everything they wanted and most importantly, they got everything they needed. The end result was the No. 2 signing class in the country.

It's always a bummer to finish second to Alabama, but the Bayou Bengals have no reasons to hang their heads. They were nipping at the Tide's heels and for the most part, they were able to keep their top recruits in state and away from Nick Saban.

But the arms race with Bama played second fiddle to LSU's No. 1 concern, and that was filling needs created by two straight mass exoduses to the NFL. The Tigers did a brilliant job of reloading with this 2014 class.

Of course, the most heralded signing came from St. Augustine's Leonard Fournette.

Fournette was not only the top running back in the nation, but most prognosticators had him billed as the country's No. 1 overall prospect.

With the departure of Jeremy Hill--who ran for 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, Fournette should fill in quite nicely with Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard.

With his size at 6-foot-1, 226 pounds and his combination of power and speed, there's a chance he may be starting in next year's season opener against Wisconsin. Even if he doesn't, I expect him to be getting the bulk of the carries by the end of the year.

Continuing to rebuild on offense, LSU brought in a tremendously impressive receiving group--headed by the nation's top wideout Malachi Dupree.

The 6-foot-3 speedster from John Curtis was the No. 17 prospect overall and a dire need for the Tigers after losing both Odell Beckam Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Those guys accounted for a combined 136 completions, 2,345 yards and 18 touchdowns last year.

Joining Dupree was Barbe's Trey Quinn. Quinn is a great route-runner with exceptional hands that smashed most of the state's major high school receiving records. He was the third-ranked receiver in the country and the No. 29 overall prospect.

But of course, LSU is always known for their defense. After an up-and-down season, they brought in a great haul that should be very beneficial the next three-to-four years.

To replace Lamin Barrow, they brought in Illinois linebacker Clifton Garrett. The 6-foot-2, 224-pounder is a strong run-stopper that was the second-ranked inside linebacker in the country and No. 31 overall player.

And at a school now known as "Defensive Back U," LSU brought in two highly-ranked safeties.

They snagged Texas' Jamal Adams. Adams is a 204-pounder that Miles said reminds him of Eric Reid but with even better speed and ball-skills. He was the second-ranked safety in the nation and No. 18 prospect overall.

The second safety they landed was another Texas boy in Edward Paris Jr. He's a 201-pounder that was the No. 4 safety in this year's class and No. 50 overall recruit.

LSU was even able to steal a defensive tackle prospect in the massive 305-pound Travonte Valentine that originally committed to Miami. He'll now be filling an immediate need for the Tigers after losing both Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson.

Plaquemine's Davon Godchaux and Oklahoma native Deondre Clark are two players that will also help on the defensive line.

This is LSU's best recruiting class since 2009 when they ranked No. 1. That class included big names like: Reid, Tyrann Mathieu, Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery, Kevin Minter, Bennie Logan and Tharold Simon.

In 2010, the Tigers went 11-2 and won the Cotton Bowl and in 2011, they went 13-0, won the SEC championship and made it to the BCS Championship Game.

It remains to be seen if this year's recruiting class will have the same kind of impact, but just inking the No. 2 class was important for LSU in itself.

It just felt like air was consistently being let out of Tiger nation ever since that embarrassing 21-0 loss to Alabama in the 2012 BCS title game.

Mathieu got kicked off the team shortly after. A year with serious national championship implications turned to 10-3 with a heart-breaking bowl loss.

Recruiting classes began to fall out of the top 10--sinking as far as an uncharacteristic No. 14 ranking in 2012, and this year's three-loss regular season was sandwiched between two mass exits by its best players.

Before this recruiting haul, there wasn't a lot of optimism heading into next year. That all changed last Wednesday.

Dreaming of a national championship for next year is jumping the gun, but you can't help but get caught up in the possibilities that have arisen. Death Valley's future is certainly looking bright.