The LSU Tigers defense has featured some all time greats over the years. From First Team All Americans to legends wearing the illustrious number seven, the history of the program is rich with defensive excellence.

Today we’re analyzing all the LSU defensive players in history, and building a top ten out of it. We’ll cover some of the very best talent to ever feature in an LSU defense, and the reasons they belong in the top ten.

Who are the LSU starting defensive line in the 2023 season?

The LSU defensive linemen in 2023 will be hoping to lead from the front in what is a high potential season for the Tigers under Brian Kelly.

LSU defensive ends Sai’vion Jones and Mekhi Wingo lead a three man front, and nose tackle Maason Smith plugs the middle. Jones offers an explosive threat both up the middle and round the edge, and looks to be stronger than ever this season as he enters his junior year with the Tigers.

Mekhi Wingo is a big man who can generate a lot of pressure in a hurry. He’s expected to take another jump in 2023 having been named a Third-Team All-American last season. He’s one of the most impactful players on the LSU defense in 2023, and a future NFL talent in the making.

LSU Defensive Back History

LSU have had many great defensive backs, from the great Tommy Casanova to Patrick Peterson, the Honey Badger and many more.

Some of those will be detailed on this top ten list, as LSU holds a strong claim for DBU in the never-ending war for bragging rights.

Several LSU Tigers players have made a significant impact in the NFL, with many being selected in the first round of the draft. Notable names like Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, Jamal Adams, Tre’Davious White, and most recently, Derek Stingley Jr., who was chosen as the third overall pick by the Houston Texans in the 2022 NFL Draft, have all been part of this impressive list.

Famous LSU Defensive Backs

Tommy Casanova is one of the most famous LSU players of all time, having featured in the early 70s. Patrick Peterson is also among the most famous LSU DBs, and is undoubtedly one of the best LSU defensive players of all time.

Ranking the Top 10 Greatest LSU Defensive Players of all time

  1. Morris Claiborne

Position: Cornerback
CFB Career Stats: 95 tackles, 11 interceptions, 2 tackles for loss
Awards: Jim Thorpe Award, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Unanimous All-American, First Team All-SEC

The LSU Tigers have had some great defensive backs over the years, including All Americans such as Tre’Davious White & Jamal Adams. While those guys only narrowly missed out on the top ten list, we felt that Morris Claiborne deserved a spot.

In 2010, Claiborne had emerged in the LSU secondary as a very talented coverage corner. He was immaculate at defending the deep ball, and could go with receivers repeatedly and often come out of those duels on top. The hype around him grew that year, and in 2011 he delivered.

Fast forward to the 2011 campaign, and Claiborne elevated his game tremendously. Patrick Peterson had moved on to the NFL, and some scouts believed that perhaps Claiborne looked so good because he was always facing the WR2 while Peterson took care of the number one threat.

Claiborne responded by balling out throughout the year, and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year that season, as well as earning Unanimous All American honors and being named to the First Team All SEC. He was drafted sixth overall in 2012, and spent his pro career with the Cowboys, Jets and Chiefs, winning a Super Bowl ring as part of the roster in 2019.

  1. Corey Webster

Position: Cornerback
CFB Career Stats: 17 interceptions
Awards: BCS National Champion, 2x First Team All-American, 2x First Team All-SEC

Corey Webster is another of the Tigers great cornerbacks, who helped the program to win the National Championship in 2003. Originally a wide receiver, Webster converted to defensive back in 2002, and excelled from then onwards on the defensive side of the ball.

Webster managed 16 interceptions over the course of his career at LSU, which is the second highest total in the history of the program behind Chris Williams in the late 70s.

Webster had back to back years with seven interceptions a piece in 2002 and 2003, which included one game in 2002 in which he caught three picks in a single game against the Florida Gators.

Corey Webster was a pass break up machine, and he was not fun to throw the football anywhere near. He continued his fine form in the NFL, winning two Super Bowl rings during his career with the New York Giants. He played in the pros from 2005-2013, and spent every one of those years on the blue side of New York.

  1. Devin White

Position: Linebacker
CFB Career Stats: 286 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 1 interception, 4 forced fumbles
Awards: Butkus Award, Consensus All-American, 2x First Team All-SEC

The first of three linebackers on this list is Devin White, who had two exceptional years at LSU before heading for the NFL.

In back-to-back years in 2017 and 2018, White was one of the best linebackers in college, with sideline to sideline speed and the power to blow up plays at every opportunity.

In those two seasons combined, White managed over 250 tackles, including 25.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. He was a game wrecker at times, and one of the most influential players on the LSU defense roster in both of those seasons.

Devin White was named a First Team All SEC member two years in a row, and in 2018 he was named a consensus First Team All American, as well as winning the Dick Butkus Award, presented to the nation's best linebacker.

White was drafted fifth overall in the 2019 NFL draft, and has gone on to become one of the best LSU linebackers in the history of the NFL, winning a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

  1. Bradie James

Position: Linebacker
CFB Career Stats: 418 tackles, 14 sacks, 33 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions
Awards: First Team All-American, 2x First Team All-SEC

While Al Richardson holds the record for the most tackles in LSU history, Bradie James is not far behind, and the two are the only two to have cleared 400 in that category.

Bradie James holds the record for the most tackles in a single season, managing 154, four more than Richardson’s highest total, in a dominant 2002 season for the Tigers.

James was recognized as a First Team All American in 2002, and earned All SEC honors in his final two seasons with the Tigers, before moving on to the NFL. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Dallas Cowboys in 2003, and went on to have an NFL career spanning a decade, with all but his final year being with the Cowboys.

  1. LaRon Landry

Position: Safety
CFB Career Stats: 315 tackles, 12 interceptions, 8 sacks
Awards: BCS National Champion, Consensus All-American, 2x First Team All-SEC

LaRon Landry was a bruiser at safety. He was big, strong and intimidating in the secondary, and nothing came his way without him laying a hit stick on whatever or whoever it was.

He was an instant impact player at LSU, playing in 10 games as a freshman and helping the program win the National Championship his freshman year in 2003. He had 80 tackles that season and a couple of interceptions, and was named a First Team Freshman All American.

The Tigers safety went on to earn First Team All SEC honors in his two final seasons with the program, and was named a consensus All American in 2006 before heading for the NFL.

In the NFL, it was LaRon Landry who combined with the great Sean Taylor in Washington to form one of the most dangerous safety duos in football. He earned just one Pro Bowl trip later in his career in 2012, while playing for the New York Jets.

  1. Al Richardson

Position: Linebacker
CFB Career Stats: 452 tackles, 5 interceptions
Awards: First Team All-SEC, First Team All-American

Al Richardson takes the top spot as the best LSU linebacker of all time, although it’s close between he and Bradie James.

Richardson was a tackle machine, and still holds the record for the most tackles in program history to this day. Over the course of his college career, the powerful linebacker totaled 452 total tackles in four seasons of football, marking some of the most impressive LSU defense stats of all time.

The Baton Rouge native stayed local to play college football, and became an all time great for the program by patrolling the middle of the field and leading by example when it came to the LSU rushing defense. He’d grown up as the son of a football coach, and oozed quality on the defensive side of the ball.

In 1982 he received All SEC and All American honors, and managed 21 tackles in a single game against South Carolina. He was everywhere that day.

  1. Tyrann Mathieu

Position: Safety
CFB Career Stats: 136 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 4 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles
Awards: Chuck Bednarik Award, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Consensus All-American, First Team All-SEC

Tyrann Mathieu’s story is one that will always warm the hearts of LSU football fans and those who have followed his professional career.

The special bond he has with Patrick Peterson is unmatched, and helped the ‘Honey Badger’ out of a rut when he took a wrong turn in his personal life.

Tyrann Mathieu had been a superstar at safety for the Tigers, and he’s the only defensive player in program history to be named a top five candidate for the Heisman Trophy. That’s pretty hard to do. He was playing at a Charles Woodson level on defense, and looked a rare breed at the college level.

In 2011 Mathieu won the Chuck Bednarik Award, presented to the best defensive player in college football each season. It was just one year after Patrick Peterson had won the same award, pointing towards some of the exceptional talent the program featured at that moment in time.

Unfortunately, failed drug tests and violations of team rules got him kicked off the team, and it was then that Patrick Peterson opened up his home for Tyrann to go and get himself straight.

Peterson would later put in a good word for Tyrann with the Cardinals, who drafted him in the third round of the 2013 draft. Since then, Mathieu has been one of the best safeties in pro football, winning a Super Bowl and earning three First Team All Pro honors and three Pro Bowl appearances. He remains to be one of the best former LSU defensive players in history.

  1. Glenn Dorsey

Position: Defensive Tackle
CFB Career Stats: 179 tackles, 15 sacks, 27 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles
Awards: BCS National Champion, Lombardi Trophy, Outland Trophy, Bronco Nagurski Trophy, Lott Trophy, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Unanimous All-American, 2x First Team All SEC

Glenn Dorsey has a serious case as one of the very best defensive tackles in the history of the SEC, and there’s been a lot of them.

His career in the NFL never really panned out after being selected with the fifth overall pick in 2008, but he played out his rookie contract with the Kansas City Chiefs before spending four years with the Niners in San Francisco.

In college however, Dorsey was a monster, and led the LSU defensive line that fired its way to a College Football National Championship in 2007. In fact, the Tigers defensive tackle won just about every award he was nominated for that year. He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, won the Lott Trophy, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award. He was unsurprisingly voted a Unanimous All American, and stapled his name into the book as one of the best LSU defensive players of all time.

  1. Patrick Peterson

Position: Cornerback
CFB Career Stats: 135 tackles, 7 interceptions
Awards: Unanimous All-American, Chuck Bednarik Award, Jim Thorpe Award, Jack Tatum Trophy, 2x All SEC, SEC Special Teams Player of the Year

Patrick Peterson’s college career marks one of the best from any college talent in history. He was a true lockdown corner, which is a trademark he carried with him into the NFL over the course of a lengthy career as a pro.

At LSU, he broke into the lineup in his sophomore season, and immediately started to dominate some of the best wide receivers in the SEC. He would contend with the likes of Julio Jones at Alabama, and never backed down from a battle against the opposition's elite pass catchers.

In his first season as a starter, Peterson earned Second Team All SEC honors and was named a Second Team All American. The following year he became one of the best corners in the country, and started returning kicks and punts for the Tigers too, and was named both a First Team All SEC member and a Unanimous All American. He won the Chuck Bednarik Award in 2010, and was also named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year as a part of arguably the best LSU starting defense in the modern era.

His dominance in the secondary led to him being one of the most coveted corners in the NFL draft, where he was selected fifth overall by the Arizona Cardinals in 2011. He has since become one of the all time greatest LSU defensive backs in the NFL with a career spanning the course of more than a decade at the very top.

  1. Tommy Casanova

Position: DB
CFB Career Stats: Unknown
Awards: 3x First Team All-American, 3x First Team All-SEC, College Football Hall of Fame

Tommy Casanova was an athletic star for the LSU Tigers, and is considered to be the greatest LSU defensive player of all time.

When he arrived on campus, Casanova played running back, returned kicks and punts, and was introduced to the defense as a cornerback as well. He was a true do it all star, and in his first year playing on the Tigers defense he was named a First Team All-American.

He would go on to earn three First Team All-American honors in a row, as well as being named to the First Team All SEC for three straight years. He is the only defensive player in school history to be named a three time First Team All-American, and was able to do so while also playing at a high level as a returner, and at running back.

Casanova was a leader of the 1970 LSU defense ranking number one in program history for run defense, along with fellow All Pro Mike Anderson. Had Tommy Casanova not been injured in 1971, he might have won the Heisman. He was one of the favorites for the title and one of the very best players in the country at the time, but missed five games with a hamstring injury.

Paul Brown, who coached him in the NFL, called Casanova "Just plain Special. We never had anyone else like him. On defense, he played the ball like a center fielder. On punt returns, he was excellent. A very good football player and always a gentleman."

Parameters for Rankings

These LSU defensive players have been ranked based on their impact and career while playing for the LSU Tigers. Their college career accomplishments have been factored in, and while NFL achievements are mentioned, they did not influence the final rankings.


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