Known for his quiet production on the field, many scouts regard LaFell as one of the finest athletes in the draft. Even though he put up impressive numbers during his LSU career, he never developed into that franchise-type receiver many envisioned for him after he pulled down 63 passes and gained 929 yards with eight touchdowns during his junior campaign.
Still, he became one of the most productive receivers in school history with 175 career receptions for 2,517 yards and 25 touchdowns, LaFell ranks second in Tiger annals with 25 touchdown catches, including pulling down 19 scoring tosses during his final two seasons. His eleven touchdowns in 2009 rank second on the Tigers’ all-time record chart. He would end his college career by catching at least one pass in each of his final 41 games.
LaFell finished third in school annals in receptions, while his receiving yardage places him fifth on that career-record chart. His 175 grabs led the Southeastern Conference’s active receivers, as did his 25 touchdowns. Only Shay Hodge of Mississippi (2,646 yards) had more receiving yards among the SEC players that competed last season.
Flying “under the radar” is nothing new for LaFell. During his days at Lamar High School, he was known more for his skills at defensive back before receiving national attention as a receiver during his senior season. That year, he caught 46 passes for 1,116 yards and 16 touchdowns and continued to excel as a defensive back, pulling down eight interceptions and returning four for touchdowns, including one for 87 yards. On special teams, he returned punts of 65 and 58 yards for touchdowns.
LaFell’s best game during his final campaign came when he recorded seven catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns vs. Bellaire High. As a junior, he hauled in 49 passes for 552 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was a member of the Houston Chronicle Top 100 and named first-team All-Greater Houston Area in 2004. He also received Tom Lemming Prep All-American recognition.
In addition to his exploits on the football field, he was also a standout point guard on the basketball team.LaFell enrolled at Louisiana State in 2005, spending the season performing on the scout team as a red-shirt. Listed deep down the depth chart behind All-Southeastern Conference receivers Dwayne Bowe, Early Doucet and Craig Davis, LaFell appeared in 11 games in 2006, coming up with five catches for 140 yards (28.0-yard average) and a pair of touchdowns, giving LSU fans hope that there would still be a bright future for the receiving unit that was hit hard by the graduations of Davis and Bowe.
LaFell became much more involved in the aerial game as a sophomore, starting nine of the fourteen games while sharing duties with Doucet and Demetrius Byrd. He finished second on the squad with 50 receptions, pacing the Tigers with 656 yards (13.12-yard average) that included four touchdown grabs. The first time he handled the ball out of the backfield, he scored on an 18-yard reverse vs. Middle Tennessee.
As a junior, LaFell started twelve games at the “Z” receiver position. He was named first-team All-SEC as he led the team with 63 catches that were good for 929 yards (14.75-yard average) and eight touchdowns. His reception total rank eighth on the school season-record list while his receiving yardage placed tenth. His average of 4.85 receptions per game was the third-best total in the conference and his 71.46 yards receiving per game ranked second.
LaFell was named to the coaches’ All-SEC second-team in 2009. His eleven touchdown catches are tied with Devery Henderson (2003) and Wendell Davis (1986) for second on the Tigers’ season-record chart. He took down 57 receptions that totaled 792 yards (13.89-yard average), despite playing for a team that finished 97th in the nation in passing (181.77), one of LSU’s lowest rankings in the last 20 years.