A year ago, the LSU football team lost an unprecedented 10 players to early NFL draft declarations, opening holes in the Tigers' lineup that proved, at times, tough to fill in 2013. Counting dismissed defensive back Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu, it was 11.
This year's crop of Bayou underclassmen won't leave quite such a void, but Tigers coach Les Miles could be waving goodbye to another big number of talented prospects. Nola.com has identified eight possibilities, several of which reportedly are likely to leave: defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson, running backs Jeremy Hill, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard, wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, and left tackle La'el Collins.
"I think that's a personal decision and it's one that, frankly, will be used as a recourse and we'll certainly give our opinion," Miles said. "But it's really their call."
Landry and Beckham are expected to leave for the NFL. For them, staying at LSU would mean starting over with a rookie quarterback, as starter Zach Mettenberger is a fifth-year senior. Blue reportedly will participate in a ceremony honoring seniors on Senior Day this Friday for the Tigers' final home game of the season against Arkansas; a clear sign of his intentions, though he hasn't announced a decision. Hill, who brought legal baggage into his college career and added to it as a sophomore, is reportedly likely to leave as well.
Less certain are the decisions of Collins, Johnson, Ferguson and Hilliard.
"Just talking to Bennie about how he handled it with him, even with the decision he made to leave, he felt like it could have (gone) either way," Ferguson said.
See Beckham comment on his decision:
Making the right decision, however, can be especially difficult for players who aren't projected as surefire first-round picks. It certainly hasn't worked out for all 10 of the Tigers' early departures last year.
The worst to date: Has to be defensive end Sam Montgomery, in whom the Houston Texans invested a third-round pick. The payoff? Montgomery was inactive for every game until being waived for a team rules violation about a month ago.