LSU'S TOP10 LOST TIGERS (OR THOSE WE TAKE FOR GRANTED) PT.II:THE FACE IN THE MIRROR WHO PUNCHES BACK
Updated: May 24
Part I: here, or start your countdown at #9 who am I to tell you what to do?
WHAT ELSE DO WE HAVE TO DO?
JACOB HESTER: RB
Hester isn't forgotten as an obviously identifiable LSU figure:
But it seems many forget just how good he was on the field...and how much he repeatedly gave for his school.
There wasn't a game that went by where Jacob Hester wasn't pummeling some bat-brained SEC defender into his own subterranean waste, leaving 5 star recruits or opposition crapshoots as nothing more than an imprinted stain on Death Valley's sacred ground.
Because he's one of our most heroic student-athletes to ever wear the #18, we feel Hester's underwhelming NFL career has been weaponized against the Shreveport native's LSU legacy...a travesty so wrong it must be annihilated once and for all.
Yes....we feel protective of Hes...the robust Cajun centurion remains one of our all time favorite Tigers.
This NFL-obsessed negativity convinced some jackals (or meth-derelicts sporting a cowardice on par with Yoda, per @LSUDan4) to take shots at Hester's status as one of the greatest LSU RBs of all time, refusing to acknowledge his rightful place alongside Faulk, Cannon, Guice, Fournette, Hill or Clyde...but damnit, HES belongs. #18's shining moment came during the bright lights of a steamy October night in the SEC, live on CBS vs Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin & Aaron Hernandez's #9 ranked Gators in the Primetime cauldron of Death Valley...
In a championship-defining performance, Hester averaged 4.6 yards per brutal carry against one of the greatest defensive fronts in recent collegiate memory, converting three 3rd down tries and a pair of heart-stopping / do-or-die 4th down attempts...all accomplished in a game where Les Miles rolled the dice more than Antoine Walker partying with Nicolas Cage:
Florida's weiner-looking, meth-arm impaired quarterback Tim Tebow took home the Heisman that year, but with his bearded Bono-god taking a nap during the fall, Florida weren't geauxing to defend their national title...not on our watch...not on our field...and no player gave more in our pursuit of victory that night than Jacob Hester.
Down 17-7 and needing a spark, the Mad Hatter himself called for a fake field goal in an aim to amp up the crowd even further and bolster the squad;
Like most of Les Miles' gambles, this one was beautifully designed and successful: From his usual spot at placeholder, quarterback Matt Flynn buried his body ahead from the holding position, grabbing the crucial 1st down, and changing the trajectory of the SEC-deciding contest;
Now, Miles could see the war in the trenches...and he liked his offensive line's odds vs the unmotivated Gators front.
From then on, Les was riding the 4th down synthesis of this team, geauxing 5/5 on 4th downs in the process. Later, losing 24-21 with only a single drive opportunity remaining, it was Miles' magnificently kamikaze insistence on a 4th and 1 try inside the Florida 10 yard line (in lieu of a chip-shot Colt David field goal to tie) which really boiled our blood & raised the pulse beyond our limits or any palpable sense of fleeting control: Buy the ticket, take the ride....all we could do was listen to Vern Lundquist's riotous, unmistakable voice tremble as he let out an anticipating "Here we GEAUX..." as our skulls lit themselves on fire. Flynn snapped the ball, handed off to Hester, the fleet-footed #18 pounced, took a hit in the backfield, and finally fell forward...stretching out just enough to earn the biggest 4th down try in LSU history.
Then, after the insane 4th down attempt at 24-21, it had to be another critical Hester run up the gut which scored the game winning 3rd down and goal TD.
And this is only a single example:
Cajun Jake is a man's man, willing and able to perpetrate any football crime required so he could take the field, with his 30 total special teams tackles over three seasons on return units providing ample proof of what colors he bleeds.
Hester's unbelievable LSU career, finishing at 1,780 yards from 364 carries and 20 TDs may seem meager, yet when realizing who he shared carries with in a rotation comprising the formidable Charles Scott, Keiland Williams, or the fastest Tiger of them all, Trindon Holliday...Hester's legend is secure... ....Especially when considering his epic trailblazing on the ground, becoming a key cog in the Les Miles and Nick Saban machine as they captured two national titles in 3 years, Hester scoring in the New Orleans Superdome during the 2008 BCS title game to cap off a magical year.
Without Jacob Hester, you can subtract the 2007/08 National Championship or his own show, Hangin With Hes, one of the best LSU-focused shows on the waves of online....harnessing those pearly whites and that smile, it's been hilarious to witness how seemless Hester's switch from the field to the media room has been.
DEMETRIOUS BYRD: WR
At #8, this man's game-winning TD vs Auburn, with 1 second left on the clock, will forever be one of the greatest plays in LSU history...
For all of us born after 1989, before Joe Burrow and 3rd & 17, this was our Earthquake Game (those games vs Auburn always seemed to come down to the last seconds, didn't they?):
We all remember it, no matter how young or old...at least if you're capable of reading this.... HOWEVER:
Why don't we remember the guy who caught the ball?
Demetrious Byrd is one of the greatest LSU receivers of all time, without question, yet somehow simultaneously, he's also the 8th most forgotten LSU Tiger of all time.
Before the eye-popping, snyapsis-shattering, one-armed heroics of Jarvis Landry or Odell Beckham Jr, and prior to the multi-dimensional insanity of Travin Dural, Malachi Dupre, or D.J Chark's Cirque Du Soleil on acid acrobatics, Demetrious Byrd was the "Dirty Harry" of wideouts.
Although surrounded by stud names and high NFL Draft picks, in a (far too short) two season stint at LSU, Byrd balled out for his school in every game, giving his all every down, on each one of his 72 catches, and scraping for every single inch of his 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns.
As for receivers, Byrd's small sample CV remains extremely impressive: hauling in a touchdown vs Alabama in both contests whilst taking a pass for 30+ yards consecutively as well, torching 'Bama in 2007 for 144 yards including his outrageous 66 yard grab (rescuing us from a 10 point deficit), then there's his 4th down & 3 grab to save LSU vs Florida in 2007, one of the big momentum swings emanating from the October 2007 masterpiece.
Though he'll never have the eye-popping numbers of many LSU receivers, when we had to have it, we threw the ball to Byrd...every time...catching 5 of his 11 TDs when our Tigers were in a losing position.
There's simply some moments, throughout Byrdman's all too brief football career, where words can't do the man justice...but we don't give up that easily:
Soaring high above the contorted limbs of forsaken opposition DBs, flashing under or through punishing middle linebackers, taking ruthless hits as many times as he delivered a gruesome blow...daaaaamn...you have to feel a young Justin Jefferson (also #2) was studiously watching and taking notes.
As if he took their soul before the world, Byrd would allow DBs to feel they had a chance, until suddenly his big paws crept out and secured the ball time after time.
Byrd was never a flash guy, but during an era when many big name LSU wideouts performed below expectations, the 2007/08 Les Miles rollercoaster ride would've ended without a title if #2 failed to pull off his expert brilliance against Auburn and Tennessee.
The obvious reason many haven't heard of the greatness of Demetrious resides in a serious, near-fatal 2009 car crash which kept the Byrdman laid up in an intensive care unit, right on the heels of the NFL Draft.
Let's hear from the Byrdman himself:
"I told myself I was going back to the league, I have to play football and when I saw that door start to close, I went into a deep depression. If I wasn't so scared to use a gun to shoot myself, I don't know what would've happened. I was thinking about jumping off a bridge. I was really depressed because I wanted to play football. I think it took me a good six years to really get over it. It changed my life in a good way and it made me more humble now and thankful for the things I'm doing now."
He was released after the San Diego Chargers drafted him in the 7th Round, tragically he would never participate in an NFL game.
Still, the Demetrious Byrd flies high, taking on a role-model position as a wide receivers coach at Port Allen High School, embracing the horrid curve balls life has thrown his way with a full gusto which makes him one of the most inspirational Tigers ever.
Last season, we watched Byrd take the field as an honorary captain in the intense, close as ever encounter against #9 Auburn, joining the ranks of other Tiger legends like Eddie Fuller and Tommy Hodson.
It felt as if finally the man was given some semblance of the respect he deserves.
As many elite Tigers wideouts take their spot in the face-replacing status of WRU, alongside Wendell Davis, Michael Clayton, Eddie Kennison, OBJ, Jarvis "The Juice" Landry, and 2019's Justin Jefferson, without a doubt Demetrious Byrd, forgotten or not, NFL or no NFL, with zero hesitation or argument, deserves his place as one of the best to ever catch a football for LSU.
ERIC REID: S
"Alabama's inside the LSU Red zone, McCarron lines 'em up..confusion at the line, Alabama rolls into the Wild Cat formation. Marquis Maze is at QB, McCarron out wide...They're gonna run it, Maze snaps the ball in the gun, Maze gets pressured, he throws it up to the back of the end zone for Michael Williams, it's a jump ball and Williams has......oh my god!!! Who has the ball? Who has the ball??? ERIC REID HAS IT! LSU SAFETY ERIC REID INTERCEPTS MAZE INSIDE THE LSU 2 YARD LINE!"
November 5th, 2011...this author's birthday, as well as the day #1 LSU went into Tuscaloosa to face traitor Nick Saban's #2 Crimson Tide in what was dubbed "the Game of the Century"...
However many punts and field goals may have detracted from the game's palpable nervy intensity, safety Eric Reid stole the show and upped the ante, pulling off the Interception of the Century to keep the game locked at 6-6 in the 4th quarter, a game we'd end up taking 9-6 in overtime.
Reid took that ball from Williams like he was training with Bernie Madoff, totally and completely...balling out just like a Tiger should....his swagger and hard-nose mentality reigning infectious.
Amassing 91 total tackles (42 solo) and 2 interceptions each year over his three seasons on campus, Reid's impact on defense went beyond stats.
As a significant force on a historic, legendary and downright iconic 2011 John Chavis-led defense chockfull of filthified studs, pain mercenaries, and head-removing battering rams hell-bent on Hannibal Lecter-esque evisceration, Eric Reid became the last man standing.
Reid's organization, mobility, and versatility at safety allowed Chavis to use Tyrann Mathieu as a secret weapon who could be used anywhere at anytime on the field, #1's unselfish orchestration and ability to make the tackle after a broken contain becoming paramount once a blitzing Mathieu left gaps.
#1's side to side speed, dominant range, and oppressive tackling ability stifled some of the best SEC players in the game at the time, Marcus Lattimore, Johnny Manziel, Trent Richardson, Steve Slaton or Mike Evans....who could forget the time he ripped the ball right outta Razorback Knile Davis's hands, completing the rare FF/FR in one split second snatch, or when he lifted Auburn's Blake up in the air and mercilessly slammed him to the ground 6 feet beneath the apex of their explosive, now illegal ascent....the answer: all of us.
As he stood there on the floor of the Superdome, LSU hunting for an undefeated season and a National Championship vs our greatest enemies, it was Reid who was the last man standing, battling for 4 quarters while LSU's offense produced nothing.
The entire Chavis defense were impressive on the night, withstanding a litany of productive, threatening drives from Alabama in the red zone, fighting off everything thrown their way...only for our misguided offense to generate nothing.
Reid was exhausted by the end of the game, fighting a slow losing death over the final quarter and a half when it became apparent Jordan Jefferson or our offensive line weren't passing mid-field.
The man was a warrior, and his "never say die" mentality translated quickly at the professional level.
Soon, Eric Reid flashed his cold brutality as an immediate starter in the NFL, nearly lifting a Super Bowl with San Francisco in New Orleans, and finishing his rookie year as a Pro Bowler.
But with 519 tackles and 11 interceptions during his 7 year NFL career, many teams, fans and fellow players have dismissed Reid for his politics...a host of teams passing on the multi-dimensional safety due to his alliance with quarterback Colin Kaepernick's anti-establishment, anti-Trump, pro-human stances.
Whatever your take on Eric's political stances, the manner in which the NFL, the President of the United States himself, and the NFL owners colluded to stop his career, including 95% of NFL organizations refusing to interview the proven Pro Bowl safety, is a disgusting overreach of power and brings back thoughts of John Lennon's push against the Nixon Administration throughout the 70s.
Ask yourself whether this makes sense:
In the 2018 season, Eric Reid played in 11 total games and received 7 different "random" post-game drug tests, a statistical probability of 0.17% for any NFL player...
If you're an LSU fan, you don't have to love every player who's ever adorned themselves in our purple, white and gold uniforms....but when it comes to a man possessing the character, the team-first mentality, and the stunning football ability to complete the package as Eric Reid, respect is what he's earned...yet, obsessive, devotional LSU honor is what he deserves.
JOIN US TOMORROW FOR
THE REST OF THE TOP 10!!!
LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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