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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
LSU future power rankings

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Powered by its fertile recruiting ground, continued production of NFL talent and its dominant defense, LSU is No. 3 in the first college football future power rankings.

But are the Tigers destined to stay there? What could propel the Tigers even higher in the next three years? And what could cause them to stumble?

Cam Cameron
The success of Cam Cameron's new offense will play a big role in LSU's future success.
The Tigers will rise if: LSU will keep climbing if it can take advantage of an abundance of talent and a new offensive coordinator to turn around its sputtering offense.

Think about the Tigers' losses in the last two seasons: Shut out in the BCS championship game by Alabama. Held without a touchdown -- and two quarters without a first down -- by Florida. Shut down for much of the game against Clemson.

The good news for LSU is that there's the potential for a harmonic convergence to reinvent and reinvigorate LSU offense if the program has the wherewithal to take advantage of it.

Start at offensive coordinator, where proven college and pro coordinator Cam Cameron, most recently of the Baltimore Ravens, is in his first year. Known for the development of a wide-open -- and productive -- attack at San Diego with Drew Brees and Philip Rivers, Cameron has the resume to transform what has been a ho-hum, conservative LSU attack. To make it work, he needs the right players.

He has arrived at the right time, because if you are looking for offensive players in Louisiana, business is booming.

Six of the top 48 players and nine of the top 120 players in the ESPN 150 are offensive players from Louisiana, all but one of whom LSU has designs on adding to its 2014 recruiting class. If LSU can land the eight it is targeting (the Tigers already have commitments from offensive lineman Garrett Brumfield, the No. 101 player and tight end Jacory Washington, the No. 120 player), Cameron can enter his second season as offensive coordinator with an impressive foundation.

Imagine an offense with the nation's No. 1 player (running back Leonard Fournette), its No. 1 offensive lineman (Cameron Robinson), two of its top three wide receivers (Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn), the No. 1 athlete (Speedy Noil, projected by most as a wide receiver) and the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback (Brandon Harris) all on the same team in the same class.

If LSU plays its cards right, it can have that at Cameron's disposal.

If the new offensive coordinator delivers the goods with those players, LSU would no longer be simply a defense-and-field-position team, but an offensive juggernaut that can carry a national championship team in its own right. Put that talent on the offense teamed with a standard John Chavis defense, and it would be hard to imagine even Alabama being able to stay on the field with the Tigers.

And all LSU has to do is sell its new offensive coordinator to players in its own state.

The Tigers will fall if: LSU's offense sputters in its first year under Cameron, causing damage that might run much deeper than just one season.

It's notable that the six highest-rated offensive players on LSU's recruiting board remain uncommitted. And you can bet a big reason for at least some of them is LSU's offensive inconsistency making them want to be convinced LSU is truly turning over a new leaf on offense.

If LSU was a top-five passing team in the SEC every year, perhaps Quinn might be a Tiger commit already. Instead, he's considering high-powered passing attacks like Clemson. You can understand the hesitation.

LSU's offense has sputtered for most of four seasons now. First Gary Crowton was going to fix it. Then it was waiting for Jordan Jefferson to mature at quarterback. Then it was Steve Kragthorpe replacing Crowton and Zach Mettenberger replacing Jefferson.

All of these potential solutions have come and gone and the net result is LSU has finished 10th or worse in SEC total offense in three of the past four seasons.

If that happens again this year, you can probably count on some of the in-state talent leaving home come February, which would not only do damage to LSU's ambition to become a more viable offensive power, but also to the Tigers' perception to top state prospects in ensuing classes.

If a top player in 2014 leaves the state and has success, that might speak to the stud in the 2015 class and so on. LSU is the place to play for most Louisiana recruits right now. We might be one bad offensive fall from that not necessarily being the case.

And if LSU can't count on its own prospect-rich back yard, it won't be the nation's third-best program going forward.