Quarterback often has been a polarizing position at LSU.
Nonetheless, the Tigers have been wildly successful despite a mixed bag of results from the quarterbacks they have recruited and signed during the past decade.
There have been breakout stars such as Zach Mettenberger. Conversely, there have been those such as Hayden Rettig, who didn’t see the field in Baton Rouge or anywhere else for too long.
SEC Country took a look back at the quarterbacks whom LSU has signed during the past 10 recruiting classes to equate a hit rate. Here are the results:
2007: Jarrett Lee
Lee was a record-setting quarterback coming out of high school, though his tenure at LSU was, well, tumultuous, to say the least.
Lee was the backup for two seasons before leading the Tigers to a 9-0 mark with Jordan Jefferson serving a suspension. However, when Jefferson returned, he took his job back, leading Lee to head back to the bench.
Despite stagnant playing time and probably not getting the credit he deserved, Lee was 14-4 as LSU’s starter and ranks seventh in school history for career touchdown passes (32), eighth in career completions (317), ninth in career passing attempts (565) and 10th in career passing yards (3,949).
2008: Jordan Jefferson
The quarterback ahead of Lee for much of their tenure was Jefferson.
Jefferson earned his spot as LSU’s starter late into his freshman season, starting two games and cementing himself in that role through 2009, 2010 and parts of the 2011 season.
He ranks fifth for career wins by a starting quarterback at LSU (24), fifth in passing touchdowns (34) and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (12). Jefferson is sixth in LSU history in career passing yards (4,733), sixth in completion percentage (58.7), sixth in career completions (398) and sixth in attempts (678).
However, for all of Jefferson’s success, it’s difficult to overlook the stalled offense in LSU’s 2012 BCS Championship defeat to rival Alabama. The Tigers were rendered scoreless in that game.
2009: Russell Shepard, Chris Garrett
Shepard was recruited as a dual-threat quarterback from Texas, but he appeared at multiple positions upon his arrival in Baton Rouge. That includes quarterback, running back and wide receiver before shifting to wide receiver full time by his sophomore season in 2010.
The other quarterback in that signing class was Garrett. After redshirting as a true freshman, Garrett did not see the field, leading to his transfer prior to the 2010 season.
2011: Zach Mettenberger, Jerrard Randall, Stephen Rivers
Mettenberger started 25 games in his two-year stint with the Tigers, and he was one of the most successful passers in LSU history.
The Georgia native was 19-6 as the starter. As a junior, he earned three victories against Top 25 teams. The next year, Mettenberger became a part of history when LSU became the first team with a 3,000-yard passer (him), two 1,000-yard receivers (Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Jeremy Hill).
Mettenberger’s 5,783 career passing yards rank sixth in school history. His 35 touchdown passes rank fifth. He is one of three players in school history to pass for more than 3,000 yards in a season and the only to pass for more than 2,500 yards in back-to-back years.
Mettenberger’s success overshadows the failures of the two other quarterbacks who were part of the 2011 signing class.
Randall was a highly touted high school recruit. After redshirting as a freshman and failing to beat out Mettenberger in 2012, he transferred. Similarly, Rivers saw action as Mettenberger’s backup. After falling to third on the depth chart during his sophomore season, he also transferred.
2013: Hayden Rettig
The same theme that plagued Randall and Rivers applies to Rettig, who transferred to Rutgers in the spring of 2014.
Rettig, a 4-star recruit, took over as Rutgers’ starting quarterback for the team’s season opener. He was suspended soon after, did not return to the field and eventually requested a transfer out of New Jersey, too.
2014: Brandon Harris
After splitting time behind center with Anthony Jennings as a true freshman, Harris grabbed hold of the starting job and started all 12 games as a sophomore in 2015.
Harris, a highly touted recruit from Louisiana, showed flashes of his potential throughout his stint as a starter. However, he often followed it up with poor performances in big moments and against elite competition.
Harris beat out Danny Etling for the starting job to start last season, but he was benched after an ineffective start on the road against Wisconsin. He should, however, compete for the job again this spring under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Without question, he is the most talented quarterback on LSU’s roster. We’ll see if he can grasp the new system.
2015: Justin McMillan
McMillan was the backup to Etling and Harris last season, but like those two quarterbacks, he should compete for the starting gig this spring.
At 6-foot-2, 196 pounds, McMillan brings an interesting skill set. The issue is lack of game experience.
2016: Lindsey Scott Jr.
Scott was a late addition to LSU’s 2016 recruiting class. The 5-11, 210-pounder was Louisiana’s Mr. Football in 2015 after leading Zachary (La.) to a Class 5A state championship and setting multiple offensive records.
Scott is a student of the game with an unrivaled work ethic.
The Hit Rate: 44.4 percent
Let’s exclude McMillan and Scott for this because neither has gotten his chance to prove himself on the field.
Lee, Jefferson, Mettenberger and Harris are the hits. The first three hold numerous LSU school records for the ability to run and throw the football. They consistently led the Tigers to successful seasons. Many are quick to bash Harris, but his career is not done. Let’s not forget what he did for LSU early in his career, and with his talent, what he still could do this fall.
Conversely, there are the Shepards, Garretts, Randalls, Riverses and Rettigs of the world. Shepard was a good wide receiver after making the full-time switch. Now he’s in the NFL for that. However, the rest wound up transferring after failing to earn playing time.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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