Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tigers Win Regional; Other Regional Notes


LSU swept through the Baton Rouge regional by cruising to an easy 10-3 victory over Minnesota on Sunday night. The Tigers weren't without some drama over the weekend though. Southern stymied LSU's offense for 6 innings on Friday before LSU busted out for 10 runs. Then against Baylor on Saturday night, LSU needed 10 innings to secure a 3-2 victory.

Over the last two weekends, this team has started to display the post-season moxie that Tiger baseball fans have become accustomed to over the last 20 years. We saw three truly outstanding performances by LSU's starting pitchers. They had a combined stat line of:

23.1 IP 15 H 32 K 4 ER 1.54 ERA

Simply put, that is incredibly good. Heading into Super Regional play and hopefully the College World Series, you couldn't ask for better performances from your starting pitchers. The highlight was Anthony Ranaudo's (pictured) 9 inning, 14 strikeout performance on Saturday.

Aside from Ranaudo, another weekend highlight was freshman shortstop Austin Nola, who delivered the key hit in both LSU's win against Southern and Baylor. Nola delivered when the team needed him, and he's starting to hit the ball a lot better.

It's also interesting to note that LSU is now 21-4 since Austin Nola was inserted into the starting lineup.

Looking at other regional action, there's still a lot to be determined. At the time I'm writing this, only LSU, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, TCU and Florida State have advanced to the Super Regionals. The following games Monday will decide who advances:

East Carolina vs. South Carolina
Georgia Tech vs. Southern Miss
Rice vs. Kansas State (winner faces LSU)
Ole Miss vs. Western Kentucky
Clemson vs. Oklahoma State
Vanderbilt vs. Louisville

Some games were still underway or about to start when I wrote this. The games still in question are Arizona State vs. Oral Roberts, Virgina vs. UC Irvine, and Cal State Fullerton vs. Utah. Fullerton is leading BIG in the 6th inning however.

Some notable items from the weekend of regional play are:

- The success of the SEC. LSU, Arkansas, and Florida have already punched their ticket to the Super Regional while South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Ole Miss will play on Monday to try and earn their way.

- Texas and Boston College played in the "marble game" of the Austin regional on Saturday night...and Sunday morning. The game was tied 2-2 after 9 innings, so they had to play extra innings...14 of them. After 25 innings, Texas finally pushed a run across and won the game 3-2. That was the longest game in NCAA Tournament history.

- Florida State played Ohio State Sunday with a trip to the Super Regionals on the line. They did not struggle. At all. The final score? Florida State 37 Ohio State 6.

Once it's determined who LSU's opponent in the Super Regionals will be, I'll do a full preview.

Monday, May 25, 2009

LSU Awarded #3 National Seed


LSU was awarded the #3 national seed for the NCAA Baseball Tournament. The Tigers will have to win their regional at Alex Box Stadium that includes Baylor, Minnesota, and Southern. LSU plays in the first game against Southern on Friday at 1:00 PM.

LSU's regional is paired with the Rice regional that also includes Kansas, Xavier, and Sam Houston State. The winner of that regional will come to Alex Box Stadium for a Super Regional if LSU can advance.

Let's take a quick look at Baylor and Minnesota, LSU's biggest competition in the regional.

Minnesota is the #2 seed in LSU's regional, and they are ranked #21 nationally in the latest Baseball America poll. Minnesota is 35-16 overall and has a very impressive 17-6 conference record. They also made it to the championship game of their conference tournament where they fell to Indiana. As a team, they bat .316 which is very good. A few of their hitters could present problems at the plate. First and foremost is 2B Derek McCallum who hit .404 with 17 HRs and 79 RBIs. They also have OF Michael Kvasnicka who hit an impressive .351 with 9 HRs and 62 RBIs. Lastly, DH Matt Nohelty could cause some trouble with a .339 average and 25 stolen bases on the year.

The Golden Gophers look to have a solid, but not spectacular, pitching staff. All 3 of their starters have ERAs under 4.50 and their records go 9-3, 7-1, and 7-3. None of their numbers really jump off the page however. All 3 of their starters are right handed pitchers, and LSU has lost just 3 games this season to an opponent when a right hander started the game.

You must also remember Minnesota's level of competition in the Big-10 is significantly inferior than what LSU faced in the SEC or what Baylor faced in the Big-12. Their team was a very mediocre 14-9 on the road and 3-3 at neutral sites. They didn't play anyone of quality out of conference except for TCU, who they beat 2 out of 3 times. The only common opponent with LSU was Illinois, and the Illini beat both LSU and Minnesota in 2 of 3 games.

Baylor finished 29-24 overall with a poor 10-16 conference record. Earlier in the season, Baylor was ranked as high as #7 nationally. However, they soon hit the teeth of their conference schedule and finished the season very, very poorly. Counting the Big-12 Tournament, Baylor has lost 12 of their last 14 conference games. Needless to say, they won't come to Baton Rouge with a ton of confidence.

Baylor can also bring some big sticks to the plate. As a team, they hit .301 on the year. Dustin Dickerson hit .381 with 10 HRs and 40 RBIs. They also have Shaver Hansen who hit .333 16 HRs and 57 RBIs. You also have to watch Aaron Miller at .328 12 HRs and 47 RBIs. Baylor does not steal bases very often or particularly well, and I don't expect them to test Micah Gibbs very much if they face LSU.

Their pitching staff looks to be a patchwork effort. The lowest ERA for any of their starting pitchers is 4.50. Righty Logan Verrett has a nice record at 7-1 but his ERA is a hefty 5.23. Verrett has only started 5 games on the season, so he is often used in long relief. Without ever having seen Baylor play this year, the numbers on their pitching staff don't impress me one bit.

It was a bit of a surprise that Rice did not receive a National Top 8 seed. It was therefore more of a surprise that their regional was paired with LSU's regional since LSU is the #3 national seed. In fact, it's totally both LSU and to Rice. Texas, the #1 overall seed, was "rewarded" with a weaker pairing, drawing the TCU regional. Cal State Fullerton, the #2 overall seed, was also rewarded being paired with the weaker Louisville regional. However, LSU draws the Rice regional where Rice is ranked as the #6 team in the nation. If the NCAA wanted to pair LSU with Rice, they should have just seeded the Tigers 7th or 8th.

I'll preview the Super Regional opponent after the Regional.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pitching Leads Way For SEC Tournament Title


After losing their first game Wednesday night, LSU rattled off 5 straight wins to win the SEC Tournament title on Sunday. Forced to fight their way through the loser's bracket, LSU dug deep into their pitching staff. All season, LSU has been trying to find a consistent option on the mound other than the weekend starters and the closer. The story for LSU at this tournament was the outstanding performances of LSU's starting pitchers not named Coleman, Ranaudo, or Ross.

Needing to beat Georgia twice on Saturday, LSU first turned to Daniel Bradshaw and he was outstanding. Pitching a 7-inning complete game, Bradshaw allowed just 3 hits and no runs. Bradshaw has really pitched well lately, and he's starting to look like LSU's best option in long relief or as another starter. Over his last several outings including Saturday, Bradshaw has logged 13.2 innings, 0 earned runs, and just 5 hits. Needless to say, that's phenomenal. His confidence is building, and he'll be someone LSU looks to in the post-season.

Digging a bit deeper for the 2nd game Saturday night, LSU went with Nolan Cain. Wildly inconsistent during the regular season, Cain delivered his best performance of the year. He pitched 5.1 inning, surrendered just 3 hits, and gave up 2 earned runs.

For the championship game, LSU looked to senior Ryan Byrd(pictured right) who started just his 3rd game of the season. Not much of a factor this year, Byrd pitched 7 innings giving up just 5 hits and 2 earned runs. He was fantastic.

LSU's pitching staff was the story of the SEC Tournament. Having some more pitchers build confidence heading into regional play is invaluable to this team moving forward.

It was announced on Sunday that LSU will host a regional. On Monday, the national Top 8 seeds will be announced and LSU is a lock to receive one of those. The other teams in the tournament will also be announced. In fact, I expect LSU to be ranked no lower than #2 and they may be the #1 overall seed. Most seem to think that Texas will receive the #1 overall seed, but we'll see. I'll post a small update on this site once it's announced so check back later.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quick Football Notes; New Piece at Eye On The Tigers



Linebacker Shomari Clemons is apparently no longer on LSU's football team. Clemons, who was due to be a third year sophomore, was struggling to make an impact on the team. He will reportedly transfer to a smaller school where he can earn some playing time.

By my count, LSU needs to "lose" just 1 more player in order to get down to the NCAA mandated 85 scholarships. On that note, all of LSU's incoming freshman are expected to have no trouble qualifying academically with one exception. We're still waiting to receive word on 5-star safety Craig Loston (pictured). Before his last semester of school, Loston moved to Baton Rouge in efforts to focus on his academics. It's not that I'm hearing that Loston won't make it, it's just that I'm not hearing anything at all, and that is a tad concerning. The freshmen are due to report in early June and as of now, I'm guessing Loston won't be included in that group. If needed, he still has an opportunity to take the ACT one more time this summer.

For only the second time in LSU's history, a football jersey number will be retired. Tommy Cassanova's #37 will not be worn by another LSU Tiger. Cassanova is LSU's only 3-time All American. After leaving LSU, he enjoyed a successful NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals, making the pro bowl 4 times. The other football jersey retired is Billy Cannon's #20. Other players or coaches with retired jerseys are Bob Pettit, Shaquille O'Neal, Pete Maravich, Rudy Macklin, Skip Bertman and Ben McDonald.


I've got another piece up at Eye On The Tigers and you can check it out here. While you're at the site, you should definitely check out everything that's going on there. Former Tiger greats Patrick Coogan and Rick Greene are writing columns on LSU Baseball. The recruiting coverage is also about to ramp up and with the backing of ESPN, that is going to be top notch. They're still offering some pretty good specials, and I encourage you to take advantage of them.


LSU verbally offered 2011 prospect, Evangel high school defensive end Jermauria Rasco. Rasco is one of the guys I alluded to yesterday that is a 5-star candidate in the loaded Class of 2011. Rasco led the nation and apparently tied a national record with 26 sacks as a sophomore. It's very early in the process, but LSU is in good shape for Rasco with Texas being the biggest competition.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baseball Caputes SEC Crown; Recruiting Notes



LSU won 2 of 3 games against Mississippi State over the weekend and captured the SEC title. The Tigers finished the regular season with a 41-15 record and a 20-10 SEC record. LSU was a model of consistency during the season. Of 10 SEC series, LSU won 9 of them. 8 of them were won 2 games to 1. The result is an SEC championship and with a decent showing at the SEC Tournament, a very likely Top 8 national seed.

LSU will be sharing their SEC title with Ole Miss, who swept Arkansas this weekend to pull even with LSU. And after ridiculing their athletic ineptitude last week, I suppose they proved me wrong a bit by logging a sweep in the final weekend. On the other hand, had they not sputtered against the worst team in the league last weekend they would own an outright SEC title so the argument is still valid to some degree.

The Tigers welcomed back Leon Landry this weekend, who showed that he's not done as a contributor to this baseball team. Landry got the start on Saturday in place of Sean Ochinko and he responded with one of the best days by an LSU player in a long time by going 5 for 5 with 3 HRs and 7 RBIs. Landry also got the start earlier in the week against Centenary and went 3 for 3. Doing the quick math, he's 8 for 8 in his last two starts with 8 RBIs. His batting average is all the way up to .303 now. Coach Paul Maineri will undoubtedly consider playing Landry more, especially against right handed pitchers. Could we see a platoon with Landry and Ochinko depending on the starting pitcher? It's very possible.

Freshman shortstop Austin Nola also had a big weekend at the plate. Nola hit the ball hard all weekend and went 5 for 12 with 1 HR and 4 RBIs. He also had the game-tying 2 run double on Thursday, which was the turning point in that game. If Nola can get going at the plate, it will make the bottom of LSU's order very formidable, especially with Micah Gibbs hitting well now.

Another guy who has continued to play well is releif pitcher Daniel Bradshaw. Bradshaw pitched 3 perfect innings on Saturday. He also pitched 3 innings against Centenary allowing just 1 hit and no runs. He's starting to really look like the guy that can be counted on from LSU's bullpen.

LSU opens the SEC Tournament against Vanderbilt on Wednesday at 4 PM. Oddly enough, Vanderbilt is the only team that LSU didn't face during the regular season. With a win, LSU would face the winner of Alabama and South Carolina.


Reports circulated Friday afternoon that LSU picked up a commitment from junior college wide receiver Martavious Lee. However, the word soon spread that Lee should not yet be considered an LSU commitment. Apparently, the series of events went something like this: LSU offered Lee. At some point after that, Lee decided he wanted to be an LSU Tiger. His school issued a press release stating that Lee had committed to LSU. Various web sites report that Lee was an LSU commitment. But apparently, Lee's offer was contingent on LSU's staff being satisfied with his academic status after the spring semester. Now, those websites have retracted and are not listing him as a Tiger commitment.

My thoughts on it all? I think LSU is satisfied with Lee's academic situation or else they wouldn't have offered. However, I don't think they want another wide receiver to be on their public commitment list. The reason? It may spook some other players on LSU's board such as Jarrett Fobbs and Trovon Reed. I'm guessing we can lightly pencil Lee on LSU's commitment list, or at least consider him a strong lean.

Lee reminds me a whole lot of Demetrius Byrd. At 6'2" 185 pounds and 4.4 speed, his skill set is very similar to Byrd. He's also originally from Miami and from a junior college. Here are some highlights of Lee:

LSU has offered Mississippi running back Nick Parker. Parker is 6'1" 210 pounds and rated 4-stars by A nice evaluation and some video of Parker by ESPN can be read here.

Looking way ahead to the Class of 2011, Tennessee received a commitment a couple of weeks ago from New Orleans defensive tackle Anthony Johnson. The Class of 2011 looks to be one of the best ever for the state of Louisiana with 4 or 5 possible 5-star candidates. Johnson is certainly one of those players, and he may end up as Louisiana's top rated prospect. So are Ed Orgeron and the Vols going to be raiding the state of Louisiana's top talent? Remember, they stole 5-star Janzen Jackson on signing day this year.

I really don't think there's any reason to panic right now. First of all, we're talking about a kid who is just now finishing his sophomore year in high school. Johnson's case is a unique one. He attends OP Walker high school. It just so happens that former OP Walker head coach Frank Wilson is now the wide receivers coach at Tennessee. Wilson still has a very strong influence at OP Walker and this was going to be a tough pull for LSU due to that. But like I said, there's a long way to go. LSU could win another national title. Tennessee may have an entire new coaching staff. There's no telling what will happen between now and February 2011.

Lastly, if you'd like to receive these updates through e-mail, just enter your e-mail address in the box on the right and follow the directions. You can also hit the "About The Site" link at the top right to check out all the different ways you can follow the Saturday Night Slant. Also don't forget to check out the best new LSU site on the web at Eye On The Tigers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Recruiting Update: LSU Staff Casting Wide Net For Recruits


LSU's coaching staff has been hitting the recruiting trail hard over the last few weeks. We've seen LSU's coaches exploring some new territory, visiting lots of prospects up and down the Atlantic coast. LSU typically doesn't have much success north of the state of Georgia; however, it's clear they're trying to take advantage of some of the conacts provided by new coaches Brick Haley and Ron Cooper. It has already paid dividends with the commitment of Virginia wide receiver Justin Hunter. I can't recall LSU signing a player from Virginia anytime in the last 10 years. The coaches have also spent some time in normal recruiting areas such as Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Tennessee while of course not ignoring the local guys in Louisiana.

I took some guys off my list for various reasons. Taylor Burch is gone because he hasn't emerged as a serious candidate for LSU. Gerald Christian is gone because he committed to Florida. Xavier Grimble committed to USC. I also added several new names of prospects that have emerged as possibilities.

LSU finally extended a scholarship offer to Shreveport athlete Jarrett Fobbs (pictured) last week. I like Fobbs a lot as a player, and I think he can play in the SEC at either WR or DB. I expect that Fobbs will commit to LSU at some point soon. In fact, he may be the next to pull the trigger. Ultimately, I think he ends up in the secondary. He reminds me a lot of current Tiger Ron Brooks.

Karr High School quarterback Munchie Legaux received an offer from Tennessee recently. He's also receiving lots of interest from Baylor and Oregon. Legaux seems content to wait right now. He knows that he's going to get a hard look at LSU's camp next month, and he wants to show LSUs' coaches what he can do.

San Antonio, TX safety Tommie Saunders has LSU in his Top 5, and LSU has extended an offer. Saunders is pretty impressive on film and is definitely not afraid to lay a big hit. Oklahoma looks like the team to beat here. Saunders says he plans on announcing his decision soon. With Eric Reid and possibly Tharold Simon already on board at safety, it's not a huge necessity to get another safety for this class.

LSU has offered San Antonio, TX defensive tackle Torrea Peterson. Peterson also holds offers from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, and others. He's 6'4" 300 pounds and has some impressive weight room numbers. It's unclear where LSU stands with him, but with the shortage of in-state defensive linemen, LSU has to look out of state. That makes Peterson a guy to keep an eye on.

Alabama defensive end Anthony Wilson has emerged as an interesting prospect. Wilson lived in New Orleans until 2005 when his family evacuated due to Katrina. They landed in Homewood, AL near Birmingham and have been there ever since. He has recently turned in some very impressive camp performances and is starting to garner serious interest from big-time schools. He doesn't have any offers yet, but has stated that LSU is his school of preference. He's 6'4" 220 pounds.

Mississippi defensive end Kaleb Eulls is another guy on the Tigers' radar. 6'4" 245 pounds and rated 4-stars by Rivals, Eulls has offers from Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. Eulls seems pretty wide open right now, but I get the impression he'll ultimately stay in-state to play college ball.

LSU also paid a visit to Texas cornerback Tony Hurd Jr. Currently without an offer, Hurd continues to favor LSU. He's planning on camping at LSU next month and hoping to earn an offer. He does have offers from Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

LSU continues to pursue North Carolina offensive tackle TJ Leifheit. With a good frame at 6'7" 300 pounds, Leifheit is rated 4-stars by He also has an impressive offer list including USC, Florida State, Clemson, Tennessee, Arkasnas, and North Carolina. LSU has to make up ground on North Carolina, USC, and Ohio State (has not offered to this point).

Sticking with our Atlantic coast theme, LSU also paid visits to a couple other Virginia recruits in defensive tackle Evan Hailes and defensive end Zach McCray. Hailes, rated 4-stars by both Rivals and Scout, claims that he wants to play in the SEC and he puts LSU in his Top 5. He's also being recruited by Tennessee, Virginia Tech, NC State, and Boston College. McCray, also a 4-star on both sites, has offers from practically everyone. He seems to have developed a good relationship with DL coach Brick Haley, and he claims LSU is near the top of his list. He hopes to visit Baton Rouge soon, and that visit will dictate how serious a player LSU will be for him.

Some other prospects up that way getting hard looks from LSU are Maryland defensive end JR Ferguson and North Carolina defensive end Fre'shad Hunter.

LSU has also thrown their hat into the mix for Michigan defensive end William Gholston. Most don't expect Gholston to leave Big-10 country.

Many argue that LSU should focus their efforts on more regional players rather than trying so hard in the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland. The truth is that LSU simply has to go out of state, and in some cases out of the region, to get quality players at certain positions this year. Defensive line is one of those positions, and that's why you see so many of them offered from that area. If those efforts net just one of those guys, then it will be worth it.

Lastly, reports that former University High quarterback Barrett Bailey has decided to walk-on at LSU, passing up a scholarship offer from UAB. That gives LSU another quality practice arm.

ATH Tharold Simon (WR or S) -- Eunice
TE Nick Jacobs -- Many
WR Mike Davis -- Dallas, TX
FB Brandon Worle - LaGrange, GA
LB DJ Welter -- Crowley Notre Dame
S Eric Reid - Dutchtown
LB Luke Muncie Klein, TX
OL Jamarcus Hardrick (JUCO)
WR Justin Hunter -- Virginia Beach, VA

Munchie Legaux -- Karr
Zach Lee -- McKinney, TX (Dallas area)
Terrance Broadway -- Capitol
Sam Carter -- Houston, TX
Jake Heaps -- WA

Lache Seastrunk -- Temple, TX
Dontae Williams -- Houston, TX
Storm Johnson -- Loganville, GA (Atlanta area)
Michael Dyer -- Little Rock, AR

Trovon Reed -- Thibodaux
James Wright -- Belle Chase
DeAndrew White -- Galena Park, TX (Houston area)
Solomon Patton -- Mobile, AL
James Louis -- Delray Beach, FL
Demarco Cobbs -- Tulsa, OK
Glen Coleman -- West Jefferson
Martavious Lee -- CA (JUCO)
Kevin Johnson -- Houston, TX

Travis Dickson -- Ocean Springs, MS
Naquan Lee -- Crockett, TX
Garrett Uekman -- Little Rock, AK

Evan Washington -- DeSoto, TX (Dallas area)
OC Brown -- Memphis, TN
Wes Rea -- Gulfport, MS
Adam Shead -- Cedar Hill, TX (Dallas area)
Daryl Williams -- Corinth, TX
James Stone -- Nashville, TN
TJ Leifheit -- Wilmington, NC
Luke Charpentier -- John Curtis

Rissean Broussard -- Washington Marion Lake Charles (Tennessee commitment)
Torrea Peterson -- San Antonio, TX
Churphy Stewart -- Breaux Bridge
LaCraig Brown-- Monroe

Jordan Allen -- West Monroe
Houston Bates -- St Pauls Covington
Kaleb Eulls -- Yazoo City, MS
Anthony Wilson -- Homewood, AL
Joseph Okafor -- Houston, TX
Zach McCray -- VA
JR Ferguson -- MD
Benay Pryor -- MS JUCO
Walker Ashburn -- John Curtis
Brandon Willis -- Duncan, SC

Shaun Lewis -- Missouri City, TX (Houston area)
Justin Maclin -- Memphis, TN
Kurt Killens -- Round Rock, TX (Austin area)
Pat Swilling Jr. -- Brother Martin New Orleans
Corey Nelson -- Dallas, TX

Tony Hurd -- Missouri City, TX (Houston area)
Jonathon McKnight -- John Curtis

Tommie Saunders -- San Antonio, TX

Ronnie Vinson (CB or S) -- Newman New Orleans
Jarett Fobbs (CB or WR) -- Huntington Shreveport
Curtis Carter -- North DeSoto
James Haynes (CB or WR) -- Orange, TX

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Partnership


I'm pleased to announce my partnership with a new LSU website, Eye on The Tigers. is an ESPN affiliated site that will focus on LSU athletics and recruiting. A ton of LSU sites exist out there, but I really think Eye on The Tigers will stick as one of the best. ESPN covers college football and recruiting pretty in depth. They have real talent scouts doing evaluations for their recruiting, and many of their lists have proven to be more accurate than that of Rivals or Scout over the years. They also do pretty extensive write-ups on each prospect. However most of their coverage has been buried several clicks into the main page where nobody sees it.

Recently, ESPN has decided to reach out to each school with a website to try and expand on that coverage. Similar to how Scout and Rivals have a site for each school, ESPN is now doing the same for their college sports coverage. A site is only as good as its info, and I'm confident Eye On The Tigers will have some of the best info around, especially with the backing of ESPN. I'm looking forward to being a contributor and doing my best to help it grow into one of the best LSU sites around.

So I highly encourage all of you to consider signing up and subscribing. The site just went live on Monday, and my first contribution can be seen here. They're running some specials now for new subscribers that you should absolutely take advantage of. The site won't just be for news and opinions. It will also have forums where all the subscribers can interact, chats, and a place for you to write your own blogs. Before long, I really think it will be the biggest and best LSU site out there. If you decide that you don't want to subscribe, they will offer a decent amount of content for free, so you should still make it one of your daily stops for LSU info.

What about the Saturday Night Slant? Nothing is changing here. I'll still be here at my blog doing the same thing I've been doing for years. I'll just also be doing some writing for Eye On The Tigers and helping to grow that site as well. I'm looking forward to the new opportunity at Eye On The Tigers, and hope you make the decision to give it a try.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

LSU Baseball Wins Again; New Football Commitment


Some quick house keeping. If you're interested in becoming an e-mail subscriber to the Saturday Night Slant, just enter your e-mail address in the box to your right and follow the directions. It's easy. And you'll know anytime an update is posted.

Also, hit the "About The Site" link at the top right of the page to see all the different ways you can follow the Saturday Night Slant. Those receiving the text message updates knew about the Justin Hunter commitment (below) Sunday night as soon as it happened.

Lastly, thanks to all who have offered the kind words on the new site and have joined the Facebook group or have spread the word in other ways. The traffic on the site is picking up with each update, and I hope it continues to grow. It's all very much appreciated.

The LSU Baseball team won yet another SEC series this weekend, taking 2 of 3 from the 9th ranked Florida Gators. Outstanding pitching performances by Anthony Ranaudo on Friday and Louis Coleman on Saturday highlighted the weekend. This is the second consecutive series win for LSU against a Top 15 opponent. Needless to say, the Tigers are playing outstanding baseball right now. LSU has won 10 of their last 12 games.

After the weekend, LSU sits in sole possession of first place in the SEC standings. Alabama, who may be the hottest team in the league, is one half game behind LSU. Florida and Ole Miss are both 1 game behind the Tigers.

The big surprise (or was it?) is that Ole Miss is a game behind LSU. Before the weekend, it appeared that Ole Miss had a huge advantage in the SEC race. They were hosting Mississippi State, the team with the worst record in the SEC while LSU was hosting Florida, ranked #9 nationally. But true to form, Ole Miss folded up shop in a critical situation with championship implications and promptly lost 2 of 3 games. SEC championships in major sports are like kryptonite to Ole Miss athletes.

The folks in Oxford have had some debate in recent years regarding their logo and the image that represents their athletics program. But rather than debate which caricature of a racist old plantation owner they would use as their "Rebel" mascot, I propose they simply go with the following:

It's simple. It says "Ole Miss." It's blue and red. And it folds up easily. It represents everything about Ole Miss athletics that you could want.

I actually tried to do some research to find out when the last SEC title the Folding Chairs won in a major sport, but it's difficult to find answers when you get this:

Kidding aside, Ole Miss IS just a game back and could conceivably still win the conference. So could Florida. So could Alabama. The smart money is on either LSU, Bama, or Florida right now though. LSU travels to Mississippi State next weekend. Florida hosts Kentucky. Alabama travels to Auburn. Ole Miss has to travel to Arkansas. While the Hogs aren't playing their best, it's likely they'll win at least 1 game in that series. It all makes for a very interesting final weekend of SEC Baseball.

Ideally, LSU will win the SEC title AND secure a National Top 8 seed. But regardless of what happens in the SEC race, I maintain that 2 wins next weekend should be enough for a Top 8 seed. We should know a bit more when the RPI ratings come out this week.

LSU received their 9th verbal commitment of the Class of 2010 Sunday night when Virginia wide receiver Justin Hunter decided to become an LSU Tiger. Hunter's commitment is a pretty big deal. Hunter had offers from lots of big schools including Alabama, Florida, Virginia Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio State, Penn State, etc. Also a big-time track and field prospect as a high jumper, LSU's successful track program helped lure him to Baton Rouge. Hunter is 6'4", has 4.5 speed, good hands, and is one of the best high jumpers in the nation. It's obvious to see that this kid has a very high ceiling as an outside wide receiver.

Texas offensive tackle prospect Evan Washington visited LSU this weekend. Washington is one of the very few offensive tackle prospects on LSU's board, and I think he's very important to this signing class. I haven't seen any updates yet on how the visit went, but I'm planning a recruiting update for later this week and I hope to have some details by then.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Recruiting Classes and the NFL Draft; A Look Back


After much hoopla on national signing day about recruiting class rankings, I've always thought it an interesting exercise to take a look at recruiting classes after they've run their course. I've often scoffed at those who choose to think that recruiting rankings don't matter just because schools and scouting services make a few poor evaluations. "What do I care about recruiting rankings? Those people had Jacob Hester ranked as a 2-star." Fair enough. But you can also take a look at recruiting class rankings, fast forward 3 or 4 years, and look at what programs are playing for national titles. LSU's signing classes prove this to be true. Let's take a look.

I've decided to examine LSU's signing classes this decade, taking note of how many players were drafted into the NFL from each. It's not a perfect measure of success. For example, it doesn't account for a guy like Ben Wilkerson who won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's top Center but went undrafted due to an injury. Regardless it's an easily quantifiable and pretty accurate method to judge the success of a recruiting class. Here's what we've got with the round of the NFL draft each player was selected in parentheses.

2001 Class - 8 (Ranked #3)
Joseph Addai (1)
Marcus Spears (1)
Michael Clayton (1)
Marquise Hill (2)
Andrew Whitworth (2)
Travis Daniels (4)
Melvin Oliver (6)
Bennie Brazell (7)

2002 Class - 2 (Ranked #15)
Kyle Williams (5)
Skyler Green (4)

2003 Class - 6 (Ranked #1)
Jamarcus Russell (1)
Dwayne Bowe (1)
Laron Landry (1)
Craig Davis (1)
Matt Flynn (7)
Keith Zinger (7)

2004 Class - 10 (Ranked #2)
Glenn Dorsey (1)
Tyson Jackson (1)
Chevis Jackson (3)
Claude Wroten (3)
Early Doucet (3)
Jacob Hester (3)
Craig Steltz (4)
Herman Johnson (5)
Quinn Johnson (5)
Curtis Taylor (7)

2005 Class (Ranked #22 -- only 13 players)
Ricky Jean-Francois (7)

2007 Class (Ranked #4)
Demetrius Byrd (7)

So what did we learn? LSU's 2001 recruiting class, ranked #3 nationally, made up the nucleus of a national championship a couple of years later in 2003. LSU also signed Top 3 classes in 2003 and 2004. The results of those classes? The key players from the 2003 classes led the way for a Sugar Bowl victory and #3 final ranking in 2006. The 2004 class gave us a large number of key contributors to LSU's 2007 national title. In other words, whenever LSU has signed a Top 3 recruiting class, that class has resulted in a final ranking of #3 or higher a few years later. The good news? LSU's 2009 recruiting class was ranked no lower than #2 by any of the scouting services.

It's important to note that the 2005 class only consisted of 13 people and many of them (Brandon Lafell, Rahim Alem, Trindon Holliday, Ciron Black, Lyle Hitt, RJ Jackson, & Chris Hawkins) are still on LSU's roster and playing a major role.

The 2006 class hasn't had any players drafted yet, but those players are entering their 4th year in LSU's program. The early returns on that class is that it has under-performed relative to their #7 national ranking, though it has produced some All-SEC talents (Charles Scott, Richard Dickson). In my opinion, the small numbers in the 2005 class combined with the under-performing 2006 class absolutely contributed to LSU's 5-loss season in 2008. Ryan Perriloux being a boob and poor defensive coaching are mostly to blame, but the 2006 class hasn't held their own...not yet anyway.

In LSU's case, a high recruiting class ranking is a damn good indicator of a high team ranking and a high number of NFL Draft picks a few years later. The results of this exercise are solid enough to give a fair amount of validity to recruiting class rankings.

In case you're wondering how LSU's 2004 class stacks up against some of the best classes ever by any school, my research turned up the following. USC's 2002 class had 14 players drafted. Ohio State's 2002 class had 14 players drafted, including 4 first rounders. But in my opinion, the best signing class ever is Miami's 2001 class. 13 players drafted. 5 first rounders. And lots of NFL success. Here it is:

Kellen Winslow (1)
Antrel Rolle (1)
Sean Taylor (1)
Vince Wilfork (1)
Kelly Jennings (1)
Roscoe Parrish (2)
Roger McIntosh (2)
Leon Williams (4)
Andrew Williams (3)
Frank Gore (3)
Rashad Butler (3)
Orien Harris (4)
Marcus Maxey (5)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Baseball Takes Series Against Hogs; New QB Recruit on Radar



LSU won a big, big series this weekend at Arkansas after closing out a tight 4-3 contest on Sunday. Sunday starter Austin Ross had a good outing and gave LSU six solid innings. LSU once again turned to Chad Jones in middle relief and he pitched 1 hitless inning. Matty Ott then came on to pitch a scoreless 8th and scoreless 9th to secure another save. For much of this season, LSU has been missing that "bridge" between the starting pitcher and Matty Ott. For two Sundays in a row, Chad Jones has effectively filled the role of that "bridge." He still has only pitched under 2 innings on the season, so I'm not ready to call him the solution just yet. However, he's showing a lot of promise, and he could play a huge role on this team for the rest of the season.

At the plate, LSU wasn't spectacular this weekend as they scored a total of just 13 runs in 3 games. But, it was enough to get the series win and I suppose that's all that matters. Blake Dean continued his hot hitting going 4 for 10 with 1 HR and 4 RBIs on the weekend.

This weekend saw a big shake-up at the top of the SEC standings. Florida swept Georgia this weekend and in doing so, they took a 2 game lead in the SEC East. Ole Miss swept Auburn this weekend, and they pulled even with LSU in the SEC West. LSU, Florida, and OIe Miss are all tied for the overall SEC lead with 16-8 league records. That obviously makes LSU's series at home against Florida next weekend very big. The Box will certainly be buzzing. The good news is that LSU gets SEC worst Mississippi State on the final weekend of the regular season. I stand by my statement last week that LSU needs to finish with a 20-10 SEC record and have a solid showing at the SEC Tournament to secure a national Top 8 seed. However, that may or may not be enough to win the SEC regular season title. Winning the series against Florida next weekend is of utmost importance. It should be a very interesting finish to this SEC season.

In recruiting news, LSU has thrown their hat into the mix for another QB by offering a scholarship. Jesse Scroggins from Lakewood, CA is 6'3" 195 pounds and has offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Washington, Tennessee, and Nebraska. A threat both passing and running the ball, Scroggins looks very impressive on his highlight tapes. He's got a big arm and seems to make good decisions. LSU has historically recruited poorly in the state of California, but since Scroggins doesn't have offers from USC or UCLA, he's looking at going out of state to play ball. That seems to legitimize LSU's chances a bit.


Saturday Night Slant - LSU Sports & Recruiting