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LSU QUIETLY RECRUITING FOR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

 

Last updated 8/20/2019 at Noon



I remember when I was a tow-headed freshman at McNeese in 1959 and everyone on campus was all abuzz about the “big football game” taking place on Halloween night.

I thought to myself McNeese vs. Northwestern Louisiana did seem like a big game. But I found out really quickly that the reference was to the annual LSU-Ole Miss game at Baton Rouge where the job of the renowned Chinese Bandits defense was to halt Ole Miss’ undefeated season.

The Bandits did their job by limiting the Rebels to six points. However, late in the fourth quarter LSU was trailing 6-0. The Bandits forced an Ole Miss punt and LSU put its All-American running back Billy Cannon back to receive the punt.

It was a boomer, giving Cannon some running room. And run he did, in and out and around the Ole Miss defenders. And when the dust settled, Cannon had scored on a punt return of about 80 yards, giving LSU a 7-6 lead and the victory.

Oldtimers in South Louisiana remember that great game as if it were yesterday. But they had to wait a long time for a national championship.

And according to a column by Glenn Guilbeau in this week’s edition of USA Today Sports Weekly, “LSU has won zero national championships from 1959-2002 with only four one-loss seasons over that four-decade span and 10 losing seasons from 1981 to 1999.

“It always has been amazing what cachet and mystique that the three letters L-S-U still managed to maintain.

“Then LSU began winning commensurate to its name recognition. There have been no losing seasons this century along with four Southeastern Conference titles. From 2003 to 2011 there were two national championships and a third national title game appearance,” the article points out.

However, since 2012 there have been at least three losses in a season every year and exactly zero appearances in the College Football Playoff final four that started in 2014.

Things are about to change now that Ed Orgeron is in charge. He is a burly, raspy-voiced Cajun who looks more like a rice farmer than a college football coach. And although he gets many of the blue- chip high school players from Louisiana, Orgeron believes in recruiting all over the country because of LSU’s elite brand name.

There was such an interest in LSU, that Orgeron personally made jaunts to the West Coach and the Washington, D.C. areas and came up with the No.1-ranked recruiting Class of 2020 according to Rival.com.

No less than eight of LSU’s 22 commitments are from either in or near the Interstate 495 Beltway around Washington (4) or from the West (4).

One of the four-star prospects Orgeron received a commitment from is Demon Clowney, a (6-5, 215) weak-side defensive end, who happens to be a cousin of the Houston Texans’ Jadeveon Clowney.

Neither of these two areas are normally recruited by LSU, but they have been by Orgeron, who draws a crowd when he’s seen with his LSU hat and needs no introduction.

“We walk in there with ‘LSU’ on and they were fired up. We got some of the best players for the 2020 class. Some others are coming to our camp for 2021 and beyond. Guys are really interested. In some cases, prospects called LSU before LSU called them.

These youngsters tell Orgeron “Coach, we want to come to LSU. You have a national brand. We like what you’re doing. And we want to play in the SEC.”

“The further we went out, and the more we went out, the more interest we had,” Orgeron said. “So, I went up there myself to Baltimore and D.C., and lo and behold it has been a good spot for us. There’s a lot of interest in us across the country, but we have got to recruit Louisiana first.”

LSU won 10 games and the Fiesta Bowl last year and have a slew of players returning this season. The players are excited and very optimistic, including Orgeron.

Orgeron, who has a son playing football at McNeese, is a well-traveled recruiting ace who coached for Southern Cal from 1998 to 2004 and again from 2010 to 2012 after a stop at Syracuse from 1995 to 1997.

KWICKIES…West Orange-Stark head football coach Cornel Thompson said early this week that the key to the Mustangs’ offense this season will be the offensive line, which has almost everybody back from last year. He said the defense needs to strengthen at the cornerback and safety positions. The Mustangs, who blanked Port Neches-Groves 14-0 in a scrimmage last weekend, open the season Aug. 30 at Nederland.

Orangefield’s 6-11 basketball star Val Catt will have to play his senior year in Florida this year because of age regulations in the state of Texas. He missed the deadline by a lousy two weeks.

Texas Longhorn football fans are mourning the tragic death of former running back Cedrick Benson who was killed last weekend in a motorcycle mishap. Benson, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in all four of his seasons with the ‘Horns, was the second-best Longhorn career rusher behind only Ricky Williams. He was the No. 4 pick in the NFL draft and spent eight years in the league. “He was as good as you’ll ever see as a football player and as tough as they come,” said a grief-stricken Mack Brown. “There will never be another one like him, and he will be dearly missed by so many.”

The Houston Texans and the Dallas Cowboys, who are both coming off exhibition victories last weekend, will meet at AT&T Field Saturday in the third and most important game of the four-game exhibition season. Both coach Bill O’Brien and Jason Garrett expect to play their regulars more than in the first two games and then rest them in the final exhibition. O’Brien rested nine of his regulars in Saturday’s 30-23 victory over Detroit. Dallas solved Orange native Wade Phillips defense somewhat to edge the LA Rams 14-10.

Army’s classes at West Point began Monday with my fourth-year grandson Logan Smith excited about receiving his class ring this weekend.

Justin Thomas watched his six-stroke third-round lead shrink to two before claiming the No. 1 seed going into the FedEx Cup finals that begins Thursday in Atlanta. In recording his 10th PGA Tour victory, Thomas birdied the final hole for a three-shot victory over Patrick Cantley. The top 30 finishers advanced to the final round but will not include Masters champion Tiger Woods who shot 72 in Sunday’s final round.

JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Astros completed their worst road trip of the season, going 4-6.

But none of the starting pitchers except trading deadline addition Aaron Sanchez suffered a loss.

The bullpen blew the other five games.

Michael Brantley went into Monday’s game against Detroit with a 12-game hitting streak, during which he was batting .481 (25-for-52) and lifted his batting average for the season to .335, second in the American League to the Yankees D.J. LeMahieu (.339).

The Astros began their 10-game homestand after winning 15 of 17 games at Minute Maid Park.

New starting pitcher Zack Greinke halted the Astros’ five-game losing streak by defeating Oakland 4-1 Sunday for his 200th career win.

 

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