Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Platform: LSU Dominating Headlines Across All Sports, Angel Reese Taking Spotlight

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The LSU Athletics Department has dominated headlines over the last 12 months with every sport earning significant accolades.

Baton Rouge has been buzzing with Jayden Daniels and Co. handling business in the 2024 NFL Draft, Angel Reese going Top 10 in the WNBA Draft and LSU Gymnastics capturing their first title in program history.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Over the last 12 months, the Tigers have also seen Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews go No. 1 and No. 2 overall, respectively, in the 2023 MLB Draft.

Not to mention the LSU Tiger Girls earning a National Championship in dance.

Now, we’ve seen LSU, coined an “everything school,” steal headlines across several news outlets over the last year.

The Rundown of the LSU Brand Shining:

LSU Football: Jayden Daniels and Co. Steal The Draft

Jayden Daniels: No. 2 Overall Selection

It only took 20 minutes into the NFL Draft for LSU’s Jayden Daniels to hear his named called as the quarterback was selected No. 2 overall by the Washington Commanders.

Daniels joins Joe Burrow (2020), JaMarcus Russell (2007) and Bert Jones (1973) as LSU quarterbacks selected either No. 1 or 2 in the NFL Draft. Burrow (Bengals) and Russell (Raiders) were No. 1 picks, while Jones was the second overall selection by the Baltimore Colts.

Daniels, the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner, becomes highest-drafted player for LSU coach Brian Kelly in his 33-year collegiate career. Daniels also became LSU’s 50th first round pick, which ranks No. 9 among all college programs.

In two years with the Tigers, Daniels guided LSU to 20 wins and a berth in the SEC Championship Game in 2022. As a fifth-year senior in 2023, he led the nation in several categories including total offense (412.2), points responsible for per game (25.2), rushing yards by a quarterback (1,134) and yards per play (10.71). His nation’s best passer rating of 208.0 ranks the highest in FBS history.

“I’m ready to get to work,” Daniels said moments after getting selected. “(Washington) is going to get everything out of me – a competitor, a hard worker. I can’t wait to get there and meet my new teammates.”

In 12 games in 2023, Daniels threw 40 TD passes and ran for another 10 scores becoming only the fifth player in SEC history to account for 50 touchdowns in a single-season. He capped his final season with the Tigers completing 236-of-327 passes for 3,812 yards. He joined Johnny Manziel as the only players in SEC history to pass for 3,500 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

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Malik Nabers: No. 6 Overall Selection

Nabers joins Ja’Marr Chase – No. 5 overall in 2022 by Cincinnati – as LSU’s two receivers picked in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft. Nabers also becomes the second LSU receiver picked in the first round by the Giants, joining Odell Beckham Jr., who was picked No. 12 overall in 2014.

Nabers and Jayden Daniels – picked No. 2 overall by Washington – become the first quarterback-receiver duo in program history to be selected in the Top 10 of the same NFL Draft.

Nabers, a unanimous All-America in 2023, capped his historic career at LSU as the school’s all-time leader in receptions (189) and receiving yards (3,003). He joined Josh Reed as the only players in program history with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, tallying 1,017 yards in 2022 followed by 1,569 last year.

Nabers twice led the SEC in receptions – 72 in 2022 and 89 in 2023. As a junior, Nabers led the nation in receiving yards per game (120.7), plays of 20-plus yards (34) and 30-plus yards (17). His 14 TD receptions ranked No. 3 nationally behind teammate Brian Thomas (17) and Jalen Royals of Utah State (15).

Nabers, a unanimous All-America in 2023, set LSU marks for career receptions (189) and receiving yards (3,003) during his three years with the Tigers. In 2023, Nabers led the nation in receiving yards per game (120.7), plays of 20-plus yards (34) and 30-plus yards (17).

Brian Thomas Jr.: No. 23 Overall Selection

Thomas joined quarterback Jayden Daniels and wide receiver Malik Nabers as LSU’s first round draft picks this year with the Tigers tying Alabama and Washington with most first round picks in 2024 with three apiece.

The only other years in which LSU had three offensive players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft came in 2007 and 2020. In 2007, quarterback JaMarcus Russell and receivers Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis were first round picks, while quarterback Joe Burrow, wide receiver Justin Jefferson and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire were taken during the opening round in 2020.

Thomas had a breakout season in 2023, leading the nation in receiving touchdowns with 17. He capped his junior year with 68 receptions for 1,177 yards. He caught a TD pass in 10 games, including a career-best three against Ole Miss.

Thomas earned third-team All-America honors and was named second-team All-SEC.

Thomas and Nabers were the most productive wide receiver tandem in college football in 2023 as the duo combined for 157 receptions, 2,746 yards and 31 TDs.

LSU Women’s Basketball

It’s no secret the LSU program has stolen the spotlight over the last two plus years under head coach Kim Mulkey. After taking the 2023 National Championship with superstar Angel Reese spearheading the program to new heights, all eyes remain on the Tigers.

Angel Reese: No. 7 Overall Selection in 2024 WNBA Draft

“Angel transferred to LSU after my first season in Baton Rouge and she helped transform our program,” Coach Kim Mulkey said. “When she came here, she said she wanted to be here for two seasons and she has lived up to that. What a remarkable two years it has been. We are all indebted to Angel Reese for the contributions she has given to this program, helping us win our first National Championship, and the contributions she made on our university as a whole. She not only helped grow our program but also had an impact on growing the game of women’s basketball across the country. We wish her good luck as she moves to the WNBA and look forward to see all that she accomplishes with the Chicago Sky. We will miss her but will always cherish the two year’s we got to spend with her. Forever LSU.”

In her two seasons at LSU, Reese helped transform the women’s basketball program, leading the Tigers to their first NCAA Championship last season. She has 61 double-doubles at LSU, trailing only Sylvia Fowles in school history. The Baltimore, Maryland native had three separate streaks of at least 10 straight double-doubles during her time in Baton Rouge.Reese averaged 20.9 points and 14.4 rebounds per game in her time at LSU. Reese became the first player since Wendy Scholtens from Vanderbilt in 1989 and 1990 to lead the league in both scoring and rebounding in consecutive seasons and was named this season’s SEC Player of the Year. Reese had seven games with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds over the past two seasons.

“I’m leaving college with everything I ever wanted,” Reese said on a video posted to X. “A degree, a national championship and this platform I could have never imagined. This is for the girls who look like me that’s going to speak up in what they believe in. It’s unapologetically you. To grow women’s sports and to have an impact on those coming next. This was a difficult decision, but I trust the next chapter because I know the author. Bayou Barbie out.”

LSU Baseball: Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews Go No.1 and No. 2 Overall in 2023 MLB Draft

Paul Skenes: No. 1 Overall

LSU right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes came to Baton Rouge to perfect his craft, and after one year with the Tigers, he quickly became the top pitcher in all of college baseball. Last July, it all came together after Skenes was selected No. 1 overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Skenes finished the 2023 season with a 12-2 record as LSU’s ace with a 1.69 ERA, which ranked second in the nation. His 209 strikeouts — an SEC record — led the nation, as did his 0.75 walks plus hits per inning pitched.

The meteoric rise of Skenes took the country by storm. After committing to LSU in late July of 2022, the former Air Force star transferred down South with one goal in mind and that was to work towards becoming the best pitcher in college baseball.

The plan was executed to perfection.

Skenes was named the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year, led NCAA Division I in strikeouts (209, breaking Ben McDonald’s school and SEC record), strikeouts per nine innings (15.3) and WHIP (0.75) and ranked second in wins (12), ERA (1.69) and opponents’ average (.165).

Dylan Crews: No. 2 Overall Selection

Dylan Crews ended his legendary LSU career as a National Champion, and after rewriting the record books, he departed Baton Rouge as an icon. In July, Crews was selected No. 2 overall by the Washington Nationals in the 2023 MLB Draft.

Crews, a junior from Longwood, Fla., batted .426 (110-for-258) for LSU’s 2023 National Championship team with 16 doubles, two triples, 18 homers, 70 RBI and 100 runs. He was voted to the College World Series All-Tournament Team, batting .375 (12-for-32) in the CWS with one double, one triple, one homer, three RBI and 11 runs scored.

The 2023 Golden Spikes Award winner and the SEC Male Athlete of the Year, Crews finished No. 1 in the nation in runs scored (100), No. 1 in walks (71), No. 2 in on-base percentage (.567), No. 2 in base hits (110) and No. 3 in batting average (.426). He completed the year with a reached base streak of 75 games, which included all 71 games of this season and the last four games of the 2022 season.

It was a storybook career for Crews. A player who was projected to be a first round selection out of high school, he elected to go to college, and that investment in himself paid dividends.

LSU Gymnastics Captures 2024 National Championship

The Tigers claimed the title with a 198.225 to defeat California (197.850), Utah (197.800) and Florida (197.4375). With the win, LSU became just the eighth program in NCAA history to win the women’s gymnastics championship.

In the final rotation, the LSU beam team delivered on the biggest stage with a 49.7625 for the highest in program history and an NCAA Championship record on the event.

Down by 0.0375 points to Utah going into the fourth rotation, LSU had to fend off a feverous comeback from Cal to secure the crown. Sierra Ballard set the tone in the final rotation with a 9.95. After a fall by Savannah Schoneherr the Tigers didn’t blink. Freshman Konnor McClain scored a 9.9625 and seniors Kiya Johnson and Haleigh Bryant each posted a 9.95. With a hit routine needed to seal the historic victory, Finnegan left no doubt with her 9.95.

Other LSU News:

LSU WBB: National Champion Guard Kateri Poole Reveals Transfer Destination

Popular LSU Transfer Cornerback Jeremiah Hughes Locks in a Pair of Official Visits

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Follow Zack Nagy on Twitter: @znagy20 and LSU Country: @LSUCountry_FN for all coverage surrounding the LSU program.

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