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Tuesday, January 22, 2013
LSU's best recruiting sleepers

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Whatever you do, don't try to out-evaluate LSU coaches.

LSU has been one of college football's premier producers of pro talent in the Les Miles era, and more often than not, the eventual high draft picks are players who were unheralded recruits. For every Patrick Peterson, who was everybody's blue chipper coming out of high school, there's a Morris Claiborne who was anything but that coming out of high school.

So when you look at LSU's recruiting results, don't focus on how many 5-star studs they beat everybody else for. Look for the guys like the ones below who went from unheralded to unstoppable:

1. Claiborne: He went from being the No. 26 athlete in the country, well out of the 2009 ESPN 150, to leaving LSU after his junior year and becoming the No. 6 overall pick of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2011 NFL draft. As a junior, he won the Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back.

Michael Brockers
Michael Brockers was unheralded coming out of high school but emerged as a star.
2. Tyrann Mathieu: A Heisman Trophy finalist as a sophomore before being dismissed from the team, Mathieu was merely a 3-star pick and the nation's No. 36 cornerback in 2010 before becoming one of college football's most dynamic playmakers.

3. Michael Brockers: The dominant defensive tackle was rated the No. 24 defensive end in the country coming out of high school, but quickly developed into a star for the Tigers and left after his junior year (2012) to become the 14th pick of the first round of the 2011 draft.

4. Barkevious Mingo: He's projected to be in the top 10 of this year's NFL draft, but he was the No. 34 linebacker in the country coming out of high school. Mingo played defensive end for LSU and was noted as one of the fastest defensive linemen in the country.

5. Bennie Logan: The No. 72 defensive end in the country in 2009, Logan leaves LSU as a possible late, first round draft pick, following in the footsteps of Brockers as a defensive tackle who far exceeded expectations.

Honorable mentions: 2007: Stevan Ridley (No. 27 RB in high school became LSU's last 1,000-yard rusher and now stars for New England); 2008: Brandon Taylor (No. 24 athlete in high school became third-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers); 2009: Chris Faulk (No. 80 OT in his class became a projected first-round draft pick by the start of his junior year before a knee injury hurt his stock); 2011: Odell Beckham (3-star WR started as a true freshman and was second on the team in receiving); 2012: Jalen Mills (Two-star CB started every game as a true freshman).