LSU Tigers: Ron Brooks

BATON ROUGE, La. -- GeauxTigerNation writer Gary Laney answers your questions:

From: Biff (Chicago): Do the recruiting coaches feel any advantage in having someone like Lavar Edwards, who wasn't a starter his senior year, get drafted into the NFL? Does it give them valuable ammunition for getting four- and five-star rated players to know that at LSU you don't have to be a starter to be an NFL player?

[+] EnlargeJames Carpenter
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireLSU defensive end Lavar Edwards was a fifth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans.
Gary Laney: You'd better believe LSU will use players like Edwards to sell the program's player development ability.

Early exits: Who's next for LSU? 

January, 9, 2013
BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU has lost nine juniors who have declared for the NFL draft, a total that is likely finished for this year, though there have been reports that left tackle Chris Faulk, who missed all but one game with a knee injury, is considering an early departure.

Assuming Faulk comes back to Baton Rouge, LSU won't lose underclassmen again until next year. Who are they likely to lose? Here are the leading candidates:

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BATON ROUGE, La. -- By the middle of August camp, free safety Eric Reid was the only returning starter in LSU's vaunted secondary.

[+] EnlargeLes Miles
AP Photo/Bill HaberCraig Loston will have to step into a leadership role with the departures of Eric Reid and Tharold Simon.
After Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from the team, Reid, the junior free safety from Geismar, became the elder statesman and responded with a solid, 91-tackle, two-interception season during which he was the Tigers' unquestioned leader in the secondary and became a consensus All-American.

His end of the bargain held up, Reid announced his decision Friday to leave LSU for the NFL. He wasn't the only one.

In a mild surprise, junior cornerback Tharold Simon also declared for the draft after leading the team with four interceptions and 13 passes defended. A first-year starter in 2012, he was a key piece to the LSU secondary in 2011 as the fifth defensive back whose presence allowed the Tigers to use Mathieu as a nickel back.

With their departures, all six of LSU's primary defensive backs on the 2011 team -- Simon, Reid, Mathieu, cornerback Morris Claiborne, safety Brandon Taylor and dime back Ron Brooks -- probably will be on NFL rosters next season.

Regardless, LSU looks to be in better shape next season than it was entering 2012. Where only two of the top six DBs returned for the 2012 season, the Tigers should still have four of their top six back next season.

Junior strong safety Craig Loston probably will return for his senior year and starting cornerback Jalen Mills, nickel back Jalen Collins and dime back Micah Eugene were all freshmen.

That bodes well for the Tigers' secondary, which outperformed expectations most of the year, given that Mathieu's departure forced LSU to have to start a true freshman, Mills, in his place. The Tigers did struggle down the stretch, allowing four straight 300-yard passing games to finish the season.

Developing young talent will be crucial this offseason. Ronald Martin, Eugene, Corey Thompson and Jerqwinick Sandolph are young safeties who might vie for Reid's free safety spot. LSU has one 2013 recruit committed, Jeremy Cutrer. But LSU is pursuing more, including ESPN 150 safety Priest Willis.

At cornerback, Collins figures to replace Mills and LSU also returns Dwayne Thomas and Derrick Raymond and has a talented class of cornerbacks coming on signing day, including three four-star prospects -- Jeryl Brazil, Tre'Davious White and Rickey Jefferson -- and three-star Rashard Robinson.



How deep is LSU? Auburn knows 

September, 17, 2012
BATON ROUGE, La. -- It was Oct. 22 of last season, the last time LSU and Auburn met, that we found out just how deep LSU really was.

[+] EnlargeKenny Hilliard
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesKenny Hilliard rushed for two touchdowns and 65 yards against Auburn in 2011 while filling in for a suspended Spencer Ware.
The Bayou Bengals were without three key players that day in running back Spencer Ware and defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon, all suspended for one game for violation of the school's drug policy.

Instead of it being a devastating blow, LSU simply shrugged it off. Ron Brooks, starting for Mathieu, had an interception he returned for a touchdown. Derrick Bryant, a rarely-used senior, took the fifth defensive back role and had a sack. Little-used true freshman running back Kenny Hilliard took Ware's role as LSU's physical runner and rambled for 65 yards on 10 carries.

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Young DBs vulnerable? Don't bet on it 

September, 2, 2012
BATON ROUGE, La. -- If you're looking for a vulnerability in No. 3 LSU's defense, you don't have to go much further than the scoring summary of Saturday's 41-14 win over North Texas:

"UNT: Brelan Chancellor 80 pass from Derek Thompson (Olen kick)."

Then, later:

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GeauxTigerNation writers Gary Laney and David Helman get you ready for the season with a daily breakdown throughout August of what LSU is facing in the fall -- from its opponents to its road trips to who it's recruiting. Today, in the final countdown, Laney and Helman give their predictions:


12-1, first in SEC West: LSU will be better on offense but maybe not quite as good on defense.

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LSU replaces Mathieu with freshman 

August, 28, 2012
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Locally, anybody paying attention saw it coming. Nationally, however, it was a "wow" moment.

LSU's first game week depth chart released Monday for the season opener against North Texas revealed it would replace its dismissed Heisman Trophy finalist, Tyrann Mathieu, with true freshman Jalen Mills.

How did a program so deep with secondary talent -- it's produced back-to-back cornerbacks drafted early in the first round -- come to this?

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The clock has sped up for the development of LSU cornerback Tharold Simon.

[+] EnlargeTharold Simon
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezLSU's Tharold Simon is ready to help lead the secondary in 2012.
Like the steady line of Tiger stars at cornerback in recent years, Simon was supposed to enjoy a season being the "other" starter next to the superstar. He would start for the first time this season while lined up opposite Tyrann Mathieu. From there, he'd be "the man" next year.

But with Mathieu getting kicked off the team last week, the junior from Eunice, La., will have to instead be ready to be the leader of the cornerbacks.

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GeauxTigerNation writers David Helman and Gary Laney break down the competitions, issues and talking points of LSU's August camp. Players report to campus Aug. 1 and we'll have a preview segment every weekday in July leading up to the day the players report:

The basics of LSU's secondary are pretty obvious.

Monstrous cornerback Tharold Simon is going to start on one side of the Tigers' defense. Preseason All-SEC safety Eric Reid is going to anchor the last line of defense. If he can keep himself healthy, veteran Craig Loston should hold down the strong safety spot. And fellow All-SEC selection Tyrann Mathieu seems to have an early bead on the other starting corner spot.

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With spring football and the NFL draft in the books, here are five things to know about LSU's secondary:

[+] EnlargeEric Reid
Butch Dill/Getty ImagesEric Reid (1) might be taken in the first round of the NFL draft in 2013.
1. LSU's still DBU: For the second straight year, LSU had the NFL draft's first selected defensive back when cornerback Morris Claiborne went No. 6 overall to the Dallas Cowboys a year after Patrick Peterson went No. 5 overall to the Arizona Cardinals.

Claiborne, safety Brandon Taylor (third round, Chargers) and cornerback Ron Brooks (fourth round, Bills) became the first trio of LSU defensive backs to be selected in the same draft since the 1960s, when the AFL and NFL held separate drafts. And LSU has had defensive backs selected in six straight drafts, including first-rounders Claiborne, Peterson and LaRon Landry (No. 6 overall pick in 2007 by Washington).

So LSU's place as a producer of NFL-quality DB talent has never been stronger. Already, ESPN's Todd McShay has projected safety Eric Reid as a first-rounder for next year. So don't expect the NFL-quality defensive backs coming out of Baton Rouge to end any time soon.

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Brooks rounds out Day 3 picks

April, 28, 2012
LSU couldn't maintain its weekend trend of earning two draft picks, as the Tigers mustered just one more pick in the 2012 NFL Draft on Saturday afternoon.

[+] EnlargeRon Brooks
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireRon Brooks was selected by Buffalo in the fourth round of the NFL draft.
That honor went to Ron Brooks, who didn't have to wait too long in Saturday's marathon, which covered rounds four through seven. Brooks was taken 29th in the fourth round (124th overall) by the Buffalo Bills. Brooks' fantastic numbers at this winter's NFL combine undoubtedly helped boost his draft stock. The former dime back didn't manage much time as a starter in Baton Rouge, but he made up for the lack of playing time with a jaw-dropping 4.37 40-yard dash at the combine.

Buffalo is slowly becoming a bit like LSU-North in recent years. Much like the New England Patriots, who seem to continually look at Tiger prospects, the Bills now feature three LSU alums on their defense. In addition to Brooks, Buffalo drafted former LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard 68th overall last spring, and they drafted Tiger DT Kyle Williams in the fifth round of the 2006 draft.

No other Tigers heard their names called in the remaining three rounds of the draft, giving LSU a total of five players drafted in 2012. Interestingly enough, that number is the lowest total for LSU since 2007. Five LSU players were drafted in 2007, which was also the last time LSU had multiple first round picks before Morris Claiborne and Michael Brockers were taken in the first round Thursday night.

The draft might have ended with just five players taken, but several more LSU prospects were involved in a flurry of free agent activity on Saturday night.


Blue Chip Battles: ESPN 300 Update
National recruiting reporter Jeremy Crabtree breaks down the top three recruiting tugs-of-war for uncommitted four- and five-star recruits.


Thursday, 8/28
Saturday, 8/30
Sunday, 8/31