Jacob Hester LSU Running Back 2007

Shreveport Evangel Christian Academy is a school that just exploded onto the national scene back in the 1990’s. The school was not even founded until 1989 and then suddenly, it became a hot place for college recruiters to come find some talent.

Such stars as Josh and John David Booty, Brock Berlin, Keyunta Dawson, Steve Parker, Cole and Chase Pittman, Stevie Lee and plenty of other college and even NFL players came out of Shreveport Evangel.

Check out more about Cole Pittman and his tragic story: #44

The Pittman’s father, Marc, is maybe the nicest man I have ever known. He’s at least 6-6, 280 and not a lot of fat, but he’s a gentle giant that loves his sons and other people. I highly recommend reading his book, Raising Cole.

Former North Carolina and Texas football coach Mack Brown was one of the main coaches involved with getting early recruiting going. Now days, a lot of schools will be filled up with commitments the

summer before they play their season and signing day in February is merely a formality. Mack Brown often had his next recruiting classes filled by June or July before these recruits even played their senior seasons. Personally, I am not a huge fan, but that’s the direction the game has gone in recent years.

Mack and his coaching staff had a commitment from a Fullback out of Shreveport Evangel named Jacob Hester.

The Longhorns used a Fullback back in 2003 before they went to a spread offense, but the Fullback never carried the ball. Hester switched his commitment to LSU and signed with the Tigers on the first Wednesday in February.

Hester was considered the best Fullback in the talent rich state of Louisiana in the 2003. In 2002, he was named the state of Louisiana 5A MVP while running for 1,593 and 24 Touchdowns. He caught 24 passes for another 311 yards and 2 Touchdowns while leading his team to a state championship.

This recruit, Jacob Hester, was way too good to just be a blocker and never touching the football.

The LSU Tigers and Nick Saban intended to put Hester to good use. As a freshman, Hester played in every game and he even got one start at Fullback. Hester wasn’t huge, but at 6-0, 225, he could play either Fullback or Running back.

Hester ran for 123 yards on 20 carries. His best game came against Mississippi State when he ran for 50 yards on 7 carries and caught a pass for 10 more yards. Most of his playing time was on special teams as a freshman and that’s really what should be expected of most recruits, even the hotshot ones. Anything above special teams play is a bonus.

LSU head coach Nick Saban hit the road. He was sold on the idea of coaching in the NFL with the

Miami Dolphins and the Tigers had a big shake up.

In his place, LSU hired Les Miles from Oklahoma State which some thought an odd move since he only posted a 28-21 record with the Cowboys. However, he was hired by the Cowboys to replace Bob Simmons who had been fired for a 3-8 record in 2000. Miles led them to a 4-7 record his first season and then they improved to 8-5 the following season and the improvement was obvious. Oklahoma State was his first head coaching job and he knocked it out of the park the following season with a 9-4 record.  His last season was a 7-5 record but Oklahoma belongs to the Sooners. It always has.

Miles eagerly accepted the LSU job and he used Nick Saban’s talent to lead the Tigers to an 11-2 record his first season there in 2005. Miles would later have his revenge on those Sooners which we will get to in a moment.

Jacob Hester was the king of special teams in 2005. He led the special teams players in tackles and he was a motivating force there. He did get one start at Fullback and in the Peach Bowl against Miami, Hester ran for 70 yards on 13 carries as the Tigers beat the Canes.

In 2005, the Tigers had a great passing game with Quarterback JaMarcus Russell who threw for over 3,000 yards. Joseph Addai led the Tigers in rushing with 911 yards.

Hester had 114 yards on the ground.

Going into his junior season, Hester was in the mix to be the starting Tailback. There never turned out to be any leader for the position and it was split between several.

Our guy Hester turned out to be the leading rusher with only 440 yards on the ground. But, Hester also caught 35 passes which was fourth on the team.

The LSU Tigers finished 11-2 in 2006 with tough losses to Auburn and Florida. A huge win over Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, 41-14, gave LSU hope for 2007.

However, they lost Quarterback JaMarcus Russell who was the very top pick in the NFL Draft.

Even without Russell, the LSU Tigers returned some talent and Matt Flynn took over at Quarterback.

Jacob Hester was a senior and had paid his dues and he was the starting Running Back in 2007. Hester was not the most gifted runner, he didn’t have the flashy quickness, or the moves. But, what he had was a hard running style and a lot of heart. He also had good size at 6-0, 225.

The Associated Press had LSU ranked number 2 at the start of the season behind only the USC Trojans and Jacob Hester’s old teammate at Shreveport Evangel, John David Booty.

LSU started the 2007 season off with a bang stomping rival Mississippi State, 45-0. Then, they crushed Frank Beamer’s Virginia Tech in game two, 48 -7, and the Hokies were ranked 9th. Proof of how good

LSU was, the Hokies finished 11-3 and ranked 9th. They were good, but LSU was better.

Middle Tennessee State was their next victim with a 44-0 win. That was expected.

12th ranked South Carolina gave them a tough battle before the Tigers prevailed 28-16.

They beat Tulane, 34-9, but then it was harder competition with 9th ranked Florida. LSU beat the Gators 28-24 with Hester running for 106 yards and scoring the game winning Touchdown. That was actually the first time in his 4 year college career that he had run for over the century mark.

LSU was now the number 1 team in the country and a trip to play 17th ranked Kentucky resulted in their first loss. In a wild, 3 Overtime game, the Wildcats held on to win a crazy game, 43-37. The loss moved the Tigers to 5th in the Polls and their next game was another tough one with 18th ranked Auburn. LSU beat Auburn in another tough battle, 30-24.

It didn’t get any easier for the Tigers with now 17th ranked Alabama next on the schedule and in Tuscaloosa. This game had extra meaning for LSU and it’s fans because Nick Saban was in his first year at Alabama. LSU fans felt betrayed that Saban would go to Miami and then after a short period show up at one of their most hated rivals, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Alabama gave LSU plenty of problems before LSU prevailed, 41-34.

After beating Auburn and Alabama back to back, LSU was back at #2 in the Polls. Louisiana Tech was next and Jacob Hester had the longest run of his career which covered 87 yards. LSU won the game easily at 58-10. LSU was back at number one in the Polls.

After beating Ole Miss, the Tigers had probably their biggest rivals next in Arkansas. The Razorbacks were unranked, but that didn’t stop them from upsetting LSU, 48-50.

From number 1, the Tigers moved back to the 5th position with the loss and with 2 losses many may have thought that the 10-2 LSU Tigers were out of it.

In the SEC Championship week, the West champion LSU, met 14th ranked Tennessee. LSU won and moved back to the 2nd spot in the polls behind #1 Ohio State.

The 2 loss LSU Tigers got into the BCS bowl game and beat Ohio State fairly easily at 38-24..

Jacob Hester had a huge part of the championship season with 1,103 yards rushing and 12 Touchdowns. He also caught 14 passes for 106 yards and another Touchdown.

Hester was picked in the 3rd round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He lasted 7 years in the NFL with the Chargers and the Denver Broncos.

Jacob Hester was tough. He was big, strong and he ran really hard. He didn’t have that great speed that coaches covet, but he had enough juice to run 87 yards without being caught from behind. Former LSU Quarterback Matt Mauck and Jacob Hester were instrumental in getting the number 18 tradition going at LSU and Mauck was a team leader in the 2003 national title with Saban. Hester helped lead the team to it’s 2nd national title in 5 years.

Hester won’t be remembered as one of LSU’s best at his position, but he was good and he was fun to watch with his hard running style.