LSU football junior class opts to stay in school
If you were an LSU Tiger football fan with an all access pass to the football operations building today, you probably would've left feeling pretty good about your team, your coach, and your chances at making some noise next season.
The questions at quarterback aren't going away, but today they were shoved to the back of the closet, as a six pack of soon to be Tiger seniors said and did all the right things.
The things that Tigers of the past failed to do.
Wide receiver Travin Dural, tight end Dillon Gordon, lineman Vadal Alexander and Gerald Hawkins,
linebacker Lamar Louis and safety Jalen Mills all realized they and their team would be better served by their return to the purple and gold for one more season.
Unlike past years when some Tigers made smart financial decisions and others made boneheaded, bound to fail choices, this year, of the six players we were questiong to leave, half said they'll be back.
Their reasons were varied and at the same time the same.
Their love of college ball, their love of their teammates and coaches and their desire to be champions brought them back for more.Statements from LB Lamar Louis, DB Jalen Mills and OL Vadal Alexander:
LB Lamar Louis
"It's good to be back. My decision to come back was pretty simple and easy. I didn't have the full measure of success with a championship and degree. I'm going to finish up getting my degree and we are going to fight for a championship this year. Anybody who is a junior and has the ability to come out, even though you're not very high, is something to think about. When you're presented with the league minimum it takes some thought to give depending on your situation. It really hits you when it's time to decide. I have all of my brothers who are counting on me to finish some business that we didn't take care of. Every year we are fighting for a championship and that's the number one goal. At the end of the day we wanted to say we got a championship and a degree. My decision was pretty simple. I was very encouraged with the additions to the coaching staff in coach (Kevin) Steele and coach (Ed) Orgeron. I had an opportunity to meet with coach Steele and it was a very good meeting. I'm very enthused with what's going on around the defense. One thing that struck me was when he had the opportunity to coach Sam Mills in the NFL. We have a bunch of Sam Mills type linebackers running around LSU right now. I thought that was a plus for my linebacker group and me. I know that he has had some success in the past in different schemes as far as running more 3-4. That's one thing that we are really excited about, being able to play something different. We are a very versatile defense. "
S Jalen Mills
"With this whole process, I feel like the hardest part for me was seeing guys that I have actually played with and guys that I know - Patrick Peterson, Eric Reid, Barkevious Mingo - you see those guys and they come in and play ball. You kind of want to be not exactly like them, but you want put yourself in the position that they put themselves in. As a junior you have that decision, but you also have the decision to come back. The biggest part for me coming back was coach Miles actually coming to my house and taking the time because everybody knows he's a busy man. Taking the time and sitting down with my mom, just laying out for my family and I the better situation of me staying for my last year. Also hammering to my mom the importance of getting my degree. The NFL might not last for long, but once you get that degree, no one can take that from you. That's really what made my final decision, just coming back and trying to get my degree and being one of the leaders on the team. I want to show the younger guys the way and I feel that's what a lot of teams miss at times. Juniors leave early so their team is young and haven't gotten a total feel for it. So coming back, being a senior and being able to show the younger guys how we do things around here. I feel like we're going to be a top contender for a national championship because of the guys I have sitting to the right of me. They're all playmakers at their positions. Coach Miles is the leader of our team and we trust him. I trust his judgment, coming to me and telling me all of the things I can benefit from by coming back. He helped make my final decision, and I called and told him that I'm coming to get my degree and play for a national championship. I want to thank coach Miles for putting the time in with me to help me with my decision. I'm happy to be an LSU Tiger."
OT Vadal Alexander
"I'd like to thank God, my family, my sister, my dad and mom. I have loved LSU ever since I was a kid. Growing up, my dad always wore LSU stuff so I didn't know anything else other than that. I watched the national championship game with Justin Vincent running the ball. I watched us win the national championship in 2007 with coach Miles and I always dreamed about being on that team and being a part of that. I really do love LSU. I love the fans, coaches, trainers, and the entire staff. It's not easy being a college athlete but it's worth it. Sitting back thinking about everything, we have the opportunity to go to the NFL and leave school early, but we would be leaving a lot behind. When you think about it, it's really worth coming back to better yourself, better the team, and better the LSU program. I sat down with coach Miles and talked to him with my parents. We had a really in depth conversation about the pros and cons of leaving and staying. I realized how important this program is for me. I thought about when I first came to LSU when I was little for summer camps. I was probably nine and after camp I was taking pictures by the tiger with my dad, coach Miles knows the story. He walked past us then stopped and turned around and said ‘One day you're going to be an LSU Tiger'. I was only like nine years old but it meant the world to me that he said that. It always stuck with me that he said that. I want to thank coach Miles, coach Grimes, coach Cameron, coach Wilson, coach Ensminger and the entire staff. Like coach Miles said, there's a lot to look forward to in the NFL, but it would be premature to leave without winning a national championship, getting my degree, and bettering myself as a player. With the help of coach Miles, coach Grimes and my fellow seniors, I feel like we can do that. You only get one chance to play in Tiger Stadium in front of 100,000. I get another year of that and I feel like it's worth it. I hope we can accomplish something big this year."
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