LSU’s returning underclassmen exuded a common theme when explaining their decisions to return to Baton Rouge, La.: National championship or bust.
For the first time in several years, LSU will not lose the majority of its best underclassmen to the NFL draft. Offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins was the only draft eligible junior to declare for the 2016 NFL Draft. Linebacker Kendell Beckwith, cornerback Tre’Davious White, defensive linemen Lewis Neal and Christian LaCouture and offensive lineman Ethan Pocic will all be returning to try and win a championship.
“Anything less than a national championship is a disappointment,” LaCouture said according to Tiger Rag’s James Moran. “The talent coming back, we really feel like we have a legitimate shot for the playoff and win a national championship,” LaCouture said according to The Advocate’s Ross Dellenger.
The arrow is certainly pointing up for LSU after a tumultuous 9-3 season. The Tigers should have 16 returning starters and will bolster that talent with what is currently the top recruiting class in the nation, according to 247Sports.com’s composite rankings. The potential is there for LSU to turn 2016 into a special season.
“The talent we have coming back is amazing,” Neal said according to Dellenger. “We have a really good shot. I want to be a part of that.”
Coach Les Miles was almost ousted from the program following a three-game losing streak last season. He said getting these players back for their senior years will have the program set up for a tremendous bounceback year.
“It’s a great group, a great nucleus for a championship team,” Miles said according to The Advocate’s Scott Rabalais.
Those five rising seniors will “postpone wealth” as Miles put it in his quirky manner. Now, Miles must return on their investments and get LSU into the College Football Playoff. Miles knows he has the talent to do it.
“This team, with talent as well as leadership, can compare with any,” Miles said according to Moran.