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Players leaving for NFL could hit LSU harder than graduation

Last Modified: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 7:25 PM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

If strapped to a polygraph, most coaches would probably tell you that Senior Day festivities are a bigger game distraction than curfew, schoolwork and girlfriend problems combined.

There’s a place for friends and family, but it’s probably not on the field minutes before a big game.

But they go through the motions anyway — a big smile from the coach, a spray of roses for mom, a big hug from dad … then back, hopefully, to something resembling a game face.

Fans play another game. The steady stream of seniors gives them a chance to see who won’t be back next year, all the better chance to pass the time marking them off in the program and setting the lineup for the following season accordingly.

It’s not as easy as it used to be.

On the surface, LSU would look like a certain powerhouse to be.

The mere 14 seniors who will be honored include three offensive starters and one from the defense, plus placekicker Drew Alleman.

Head coach Les Miles gave them and the lesser mates from the class their due this week, pointing out that the fourth-year seniors have played every game of their careers ranked in the top 25 and have won 41 games and counting. Fifth-year seniors have been around for 49 victories.

But the starters playing their last game in Tiger Stadium against Ole Miss Saturday don’t seem irreplaceable — offensive tackle Josh Dworaczyk, center P.J. Lonergan, tight end Chase Clement and defensive tackle Josh Downs as well as Alleman.

There are other key senior contributors — wide receiver Russell Shepard along with defensive ends Lavar Edwards and Chancey Aghayere.

Now the rest of the story.

The real drama will come after the season, when a host of talented juniors have to make the decision on whether next year’s Senior Day is worth bypassing the NFL.

That could hurt more than the departing seniors.

“I think they’re a very talented group,” Miles said of his juniors. “I compare them with any group in the country.

“Certainly there’s a likelihood in some regard that some of our junior class will end up in the NFL (early).”

The defense stands to take the biggest hit, particularly the defensive front.

The all-star junior defensive end tandem, considered to be the nation’s best in some circles, is probably as good as gone — both Barkevious “KeKe” Mingo and Sam Montgomery are projected as top-15 picks in the first round by virtually every projections of the draft.

ESPN also has defensive tackle Bennie Logan projected as a first-rounder, as well as free safety Eric Reid, who is listed by Athlon Sports among others as the top prospect among the safeties.

That would take care of the entire defensive front along with the top backups at end (Edwards and Aghayere).

Middle linebacker Kevin Minter, LSU’s leading tackler, may also have a decision to make, although most projections have him as a second- or third-rounder.

“Certainly, those decisions are made by family and them, with information they receive from a variety of sources and certainly the coaching staff,” Miles said.

There are no obvious early entries on offense. For one, the deep stable of running backs has probably prevented any one of the three juniors — Spencer Ware, Michael Ford and Alfred Blue — from putting up gaudy numbers.

But that, along with the fact freshman Jeremy Hill has been carrying more and more of the load in recent games, might influence their decisions.

Interestingly, Athlon lumps them together as a trio, all rated No. 19 among the possibles at running back.

Blue, however, has missed most of the season with an injury after earning the starting job. Miles has said it’s possible he might be back for a bowl game.

“I can tell you that our junior class is a very, very special group of men that really came here to win championships and play in big games,” said Miles, “and certainly accomplished those goals.”

But Miles wouldn’t speculate which of them might be back.

“It’s hard to for me to just look past their senior year at this point,” he said. “That’s a decision that’s going to be made by them. I guess there’s a time to say good-bye, but this just isn’t it. I have games to play.”

Posted By: Danny brown On: 11/16/2012

Title: such is the life.......

of a big time college program. If you have the big 5 star recruits then you expect them to perform at a level which makes them NFL prospects. You could recruit 2 and 3 star athletes and then you wouldn't have this problem. Of course you would be 3 and 7 right now as well.

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