The school of thought about the 2011 LSU football team has been that the Tigers are very good and very deep but aren’t big on star power.
Apparently, the Southeastern Conference coaches concur.
The conference office released the coaches’ preseason All-SEC team Thursday. Seven LSU players were named to the first, second and third teams but only one - cornerback Morris Claiborne - was a first-team selection.
Five schools - Alabama (seven), Georgia (six), South Carolina (four), Arkansas (three) and Kentucky (two) - had more first-team picks than LSU.
Overall, Arkansas had the most players selected with 14. Alabama had 13, followed by Georgia and South Carolina with nine each, then LSU and reigning BCS and SEC champion Auburn with seven.
Claiborne, a 6-foot, 177-pound junior from Shreveport, dealt with teams throwing away from consensus All-American cornerback Patrick Peterson last season and finished with slightly better numbers than LSU’s most-decorated player.
Claiborne led the team with five interceptions and 11 pass deflections, both one more than Peterson. He also had 37 tackles, including one for loss.
Junior Rueben Randle was named to the second-team offense. LSU’s top-returning pass catcher, Randle (6-4, 210) had 33 catches for 544 yards and three touchdowns in 2010.
Three Tigers were named to the second-team defense: senior linebacker Ryan Baker (6-0, 227), sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu (5-9, 180) and sophomore defensive end Barkevious Mingo (6-5, 240).
Baker is LSU’s top-returning tackler with 87 stops, including 11 for losses with a team-high seven sacks.
Mathieu made a big splash as a freshman All-American, recording 57 tackles (8-1/2 for losses with 4-1/2 sacks), two interceptions, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Mingo played primarily a backup role as a redshirt freshman, making 35 tackles (5-1/2 for losses with 2-1/2 sacks), two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Junior offensive guard Alex Hurst (6-6, 329) made the third team, as did sophomore defensive end Sam Montgomery (6-4, 250).
Montgomery played and started just five games last season, missing the balance of his freshman campaign after suffering a season-ending knee injury Oct. 2 against Tennessee. Montgomery had 18 tackles, six for loss including two sacks.
Also making the third team is Tennessee free safety Prentiss Waggner (6-2, 181). A senior from Clinton, Waggner had 57 tackles last season and tied for the Volunteers’ team lead in interceptions with former UT player and LSU recruit Janzen Jackson (five each).
Georgia’s Aaron Murray, who threw for 3,049 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, is the first-team All-SEC pick at quarterback. He’s joined in the backfield by Alabama junior Trent Richardson and South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore at running back.
Alshon Jeffery of South Carolina and Arkansas’ Greg Childs are the first-team wide receivers.
South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia is on the second team after throwing for 3,059 yards and 20 TDs in 2010. Garcia was recently reinstated to the Gamecocks’ squad.
The third-team quarterback is Chris Relf of Mississippi State.
Media members will vote on their preseason All-SEC team during next week’s SEC Football Media Days in Hoover, Ala. That team will be released July 22, along with media predictions for the SEC East, West and overall races.
SEC coaches do not predict divisional and conference races.