Tigers' consistency key to talent haul

Here's a telling statistic for anyone questioning LSU's recent recruiting success: in the past 11 seasons dating back to 2001, the Tigers have finished first or second in the SEC West nine times.

During that span, LSU has played for five conference championships, won four of them, traveled to five BCS bowl games, played for three national championships and won two.

Simply put, no other program in the SEC has sustained that level of success over such a long period -- not Alabama, which was up and down for years before the hiring of Nick Saban, and not Florida, which endured mediocrity at both ends of the past decade.

If the chance to compete for championships isn't enticing enough, there's always the 38 former Tigers currently listed on NFL rosters -- one of the highest numbers in the league. LSU has also had at least one first round draft pick in eight of the past nine seasons dating back to 2004. Suffice to say, Baton Rouge is as good a path to professional football as there is.

With all that in mind, it's not a big surprise the Tigers boast yet another top 10 recruiting class as we head toward national signing day. LSU boasts commitments from 11 of the top 300 players in the nation, and several more major decisions could boost this class even higher than its current No. 9 spot.

Les Miles has obtained pledges from three members of the ESPN 150, and his Tigers are in play for another four members of that elite grouping. It's all about par for the course for LSU, which has finished as high as No. 1 and no worse than No. 14 in these class rankings since 2006.

That kind of consistency has turned LSU into the destination spot for local recruits -- which wasn't always the case with former Louisiana all-stars like Warrick Dunn, Reggie Wayne, Ed Reed and the Manning brothers turning out-of-state with their college football futures.

Today, six of the 13 Louisiana natives in the ESPN 300 are LSU commitments, and the top two of those 13 -- athlete Kendell Beckwith (Clinton, La./East Feliciana) and defensive end Tim Williams (Baton Rouge, La./University Laboratory) -- are strongly considering the Tigers.

Even with the rise of recruiting at both Alabama and Texas A&M -- factors that have increased the competition for Louisiana recruits -- LSU still has the pick of the litter among local bluechips. That's a feat that is only sustainable with the type of longterm success the Tigers have seen, which is something few other powerhouses can boast about.