Tigers of the decade
With the coming of the New Year also comes the arrival of a new decade.
In preparation for the year 2020, the SEC Network recently took a look at each football program in the conference and tried to decide who were the four top football players for each of those programs from 2010 to 2019.
With the number being at four, they declared the team’s Mount Rushmore of the decade.
LSU was one of the schools they analyzed, and I have to say that their picks for the Tiger Mount Rushmore were dead on. I wouldn’t change a single selection.
The SEC Network’s LSU football Mount Rushmore for 2010-19 contained Joe Burrow, Tyrann Mathieu, Devin White and Leonard Fournette.
With what has transpired this season, the Burrow pick was by far the easiest to make.
When they first signed a guy from Ohio State that couldn’t win the starting job with the Buckeyes, who would have thought that less than two years later, we’d be placing him on an LSU Mount Rushmore? That would have seemed unheard of just last bowl season.
But the senior year Burrow is about to complete is simply remarkable. It’s legendary.
Burrow has had the greatest statistical season for a quarterback in SEC history, and if he can lead LSU to a national title victory over Clemson, and be stellar in doing so, his 2019 season may just go down as the single greatest year a quarterback has ever had in the history of college football.
It would be hard not to come to that conclusion with the numbers he put up, along with a 15-0 record that included a national title victory over the defending champs and winners of 29 straight games.
He is only the second Tiger to win the Heisman in the program’s history, and he’s the first to do so in 60 years. And most importantly, he’s on the cusp on leading LSU to its fourth national title and its first in 12 years.
Before Burrow’s otherworldly 2019 season, the top guy on that Tiger Mount Rushmore would have been Mathieu.
His 2011 season was the greatest year any LSU defensive player has ever had.
Not only were the stats impressive, but he just made these “wow” plays every single week at the biggest moments of the games.
Not only was he the best player on the team, but he was the Tigers’ emotional leader as well. They constantly fed off of his swagger and tenaciousness. He was the team’s spark plug.
His “Honey Badger” nickname helped make him a college football folk hero.
Mathieu won the Bednarik Award that year and should have won the Heisman Trophy. But even though he didn’t win, being a finalist was still a huge deal for the program.
He helped the Tigers go 13-0, win the SEC Championship and reach the national title game.
Some may give Patrick Peterson the edge over Devin White, but I’d go with White because White played three years in the decade, while Peterson only played one season in that time span.
In his three years at LSU, White established himself as arguably the greatest linebacker the Tigers have ever produced.
He was first-team All-SEC two years in a row, and he is the only Tiger linebacker to ever win the Butkus Award.
His dedication to the team also wins major points with me.
He could have easily decided to sit out of last year’s Fiesta Bowl to preserve himself for the NFL Draft, like Greedy Williams—especially with so many other defensive starters missing the game because of injuries and suspensions.
White didn’t even think about sitting out. He wanted to be there for his team and lead them into battle one last time.
Fournette was a pretty safe pick as well. He is without a doubt the most physically-gifted running back to ever play at LSU.
He broke Charles Alexander’s single-season rushing record with 1,953 yards, and he also set a new single-season touchdown record with 22.
For much of his remarkable sophomore campaign, he was considered the Heisman front-runner.
Despite only playing 32 games, Fournette is ranked fourth all time in career rushing yards at LSU. He ranks third in career all-purpose yards and fourth in career touchdowns.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see his full potential.
Fourntette’s junior year was hampered due to a lingering ankle injury, and the lack of a Tiger passing game forced him to constantly run against eight and nine-man fronts throughout his career.