by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Standing tall as one of the definitive legends from LSU's first championship since 1958, before becoming a nationally recognized face of ESPN "analyism", Marcus Spears is an eternal Tiger without question.
Not only due to his high sack rate, turnover creation, and timely playmaking, Spears' legacy is rooted in his wonderwall athletic build; In fact, Spears arrived in such a versatile state, then-LSU Head Coach Nick Saban was left wondering whether the Southern Lab basketball / football star would help LSU more at tight end or defense at edge rusher.
Because of this dilemma, Spears' debut campaign was essentially an experiment, Saban playing Marcus at tight end for 10 games, catching just a few passes for 20 yards....yet, Marcus was still selected to the All SEC Freshman squad.
Marcus finally lined up on defense in year two, a position he would hold for the entirety of his sophomore, junior and senior seasons as one of the best defenders to wear purple and gold.
Appearing across 48 games, playing a direct role in LSU's 2003/04 National Championship, it turns out Saban made the right call, utilizing Spears as his primary pass-rushing DE and defensive leader up front, a decision which was swiftly rewarded by Marcus delivering LSU's first National Championship in 45 years.
On the Superdome turf, Spears climbed high to defend a pass from Heisman-winning QB Jason White, batting the ball to himself and returning the interception for a touchdown....providing one of the greatest defensive plays ever in a National Championship game.
If you believed Spears' playmaking majesty stopped there, you are sorely mistaken.
As a defensive end, it's simply incredible that Spears recorded 4 interceptions over his final 3 seasons, including a pair of picks in 2002, buoyed by consecutive years returning an interception for a touchdown during LSU's 2003 and 2004 years.
On the ground or in the backfield, no quarterback or skill position threat would ever be safe from his turbulent menace, landing inside the program's top 10 for tackles for loss (7th, 34.5) and sacks (7th, 19.0) while racking up LSU's 4th all time single season sacks mark at 9.
Collecting 152 tackles, 60 pressures, 34.5 TFLs, 19 Sacks, 6 PBUs and 4 INTs (returning 2 for touchdowns), Spears disturbed offensive linemen, disrupted entire protection schemes, destroyed quarterbacks and made it all look easy, in the process becoming an LSU Legend for time and all eternity.
Thank You, Marcus.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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