FOOTBALL

Football factory

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

LSU may not have as many national titles as Alabama, they may not have as many Heisman Trophy winners as USC and they may not have the prestige of Notre Dame, but they have those three schools beat in one area.

In fact, for the past two season, LSU has all of college football beat.

The numbers are in, and for the second straight year, LSU has had the most former players make opening-day NFL rosters.

In 2014, there were 38 TIgers in the league. To start 2015, LSU has upped that number to a league-leading 40.

The next closest school was Miami--or as most refer to it, "The U"--with 37. USC has 35, and both Alabama and Georgia rounded out the rest of the top five with 35 players on the active roster.

I think it's pretty safe to say that LSU is a bona-fide football factory. The proof is in the pudding, and that won't be changing any time soon.

Potential recruits always head into college with the dream of one day playing in the NFL. When they look at LSU, they now see a program that will give them the best chance of any team in the country to bring that dream into fruition.

LSU has always had great tradition, great players and great coaches sprinkled through their program's illustrious history.

From Death Valley, to Mike the Tiger, to the Chinese Bandits, to Paul Dietzel, to Billy Cannon and Y.A. Tittle, Saturday nights in Baton Rouge have seen their share of legends.

There have been other great Tigers to see NFL glory--guys like Jimmy Taylor, Bert Jones, Kevin Mawae and Alan Faneca, but this mass infusion into the league has been a fairly recent phenomenon.

It all started with the program's resurgence under Nick Saban.

Saban has become Louisiana's public enemy number one ever since departing Baton Rouge and eventually ending up in Tuscaloosa. However, it was Saban that built the foundation for the success the program has enjoyed over the past 15 years.

Some of his recruits are still playing in the NFL today.

When he left, Les Miles was able to keep up the Tigers' momentum. Though Saban has a clear advantage when it comes to X's and O's, Miles has clearly asserted himself as a talent evaluator.

He has been an excellent recruiter ever since coming to Baton Rouge.

Sure, there have been a few sub-par recruiting classes here and there under his watch, but for the most part, he has consistently brought in top-tier talent.

His 2009 class was a masterpiece and ranked No. 1 in the nation. So many players from that haul are in the league right now--players like Eric Reid, Tyrann Mathieu, Barkevious Mingo, Kevin Minter, Bennie Logan and Tharold Simon.

In addition to being the top producer of NFL players for the past two seasons, LSU is also the top producer of defensive backs and defensive tackles.

There can be no more discussion on what school is the real "Defensive Backs University." Texas and Ohio State have tried to make their cases; those cases are now moot.

There are 10 Tigers playing DB in the NFL. This list includes: Patrick Peterson (starter), Reid (starter), Mathieu (starter), Morris Claiborne (starter), Simon, Danny McCray, Jalen Collins, Ron Brooks, Ronald Martin and Delvin Breaux.

LSU also leads the NFL with seven defensive tackles. So, in addition to DBU, we can also brand them as "Defensive Tackle University."

These DTs include five starters in Kyle Williams, Michael Brockers, Bennie Logan, Glenn Dorsey and Al Woods.

Other notable LSU players starting in the NFL include: Mingo, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Jeremy Hill, Reuben Randle and Andrew Whitworth.

Overall, 24 Tigers started in week one.

That number would have been 25, but Patriot receiver Brandon LaFell has been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list after sustaining a foot injury during the pre-season. He won't be able to return until at least week seven.

This widespread migration of LSU players into the NFL is no anomaly. It should continue deep into the future.

Just two years ago, the Tigers had the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, and last year, they ranked in the top 10. Their 2017 class looks to be another top-10 finisher.

It won't be much longer until we see guys like Leonard Fournette, Jalen Mills, Tre'Davious White, Jamal Adams and Kendell Beckwith carrying on the LSU tradition in the league.

USC and Miami had their time. This is now the era of LSU football.