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LSU's early defections for the NFL draft neared double-digits Monday with the mild surprise that backup running back Michael Ford of Leesville was throwing his name in the hat. (Associated Press)

LSU's early defections for the NFL draft neared double-digits Monday with the mild surprise that backup running back Michael Ford of Leesville was throwing his name in the hat. (Associated Press)

LSU's Ford leaving early for NFL draft

Last Modified: Monday, January 07, 2013 6:04 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

LSU’s early defections for the NFL draft neared double-digits Monday with the mild surprise that backup running back Michael Ford of Leesville was throwing his name in the hat.

That gave LSU, which has never lost more than four juniors in a season, nine for this year after defensive ends Sam Montgomery and KeKe Mingo, along with defensive tackle Bennie Logan, declared on Sunday.

LSU confirmed the four had opted for the draft late Monday afternoon.

They join five from last week — safety Eric Reid, cornerback Tharold Simon, running back Spencer Ware, punter Brad Wing and linebacker Kevin Minter — in leaving early.

Both Mingo and Montgomery are considered locks to be first round picks, with most draft web sites projecting Mingo to be among the top 10. Logan could also get a late first- or early second-round pick.

Ford was the first of the defections that was even a mild surprise.

He saw limited carries in the backfield over the second half of the season, but excelled as a kickoff returner.

He was fourth on the team in carries with 71, but third on the team in rushing with 392, an average of 5.5 per carry. But over the last two games, Ford had just three carries for minus-3 yards.

On kickoffs, however, he averaged 27.5 on 20 returns, including a long of 86 yards. In LSU’s loss in the Chick-fil-A Bowl he had two returns for 43 and 48 yards.

But, like Ware, he apparently saw himself stuck in a deep backfield with little chance to improve his draft stock by staying another year. Freshman Jeremy Hill emerged this year as the go-to back, getting the bulk of the carries over the second half of the season.

Ford told ESPN Monday that “I gave all my talents to LSU. I feel there is a higher ceiling out there for me.”

LSU still has a wealth of running backs, but the stable isn’t as deep as it was with Ware and Ford.

Hill projects as the starter again, but could get competition when Alfred Blue returns after missing the last nine games with an injury. He started three of the four games he played in.

Kenny Hilliard will also be back and Terrence Magee, who moved to wide receiver due to the glut at the position, could also move back.

There were also reports Monday that offensive tackle Chris Faulk was considering the early move even though he played in only one game for the Tigers this year.

But he was considered a possible first-round draft pick before suffering a major knee injury in practice between the first and second games.

LSU did get some good news Monday when strong safety Craig Loston said he planned to return. It would have been a major shock had he left.

LSU is already at double-digits if you count former Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu, who was kicked off the team in August and wasn’t going to be allowed back anyway.

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