By Glenn Guilbeau
Written for the LSWA
It was fitting that the first stop for LSU players after the national championship win on Jan. 7, 2008, in the Superdome in New Orleans was a place called Club Dream on Decatur Street.
Then it was to the heart of the French Quarter around 3 a.m., but for Glenn Dorsey it was still the family hour.
“I got my mom, my dad, my sister, my uncles from California, my whole family, and we walked Bourbon Street,” Dorsey said. “You talk about feeling like a rock star, feeling like Michael Jackson, the president of the United States, it was unbelievable. Oh, man. People coming up to you. What a time.”
LSU had just defeated Ohio State, 38-24, for its second national championship in five seasons. The Hibernia tower on Gravier Street beamed purple and gold over everything all night and morning long as it had all week.
“You know, how some things in life, you wish you could live again? That night’s one of them,” Dorsey said from his home in Calabasas, California, near Los Angeles. He completed a nine-year career in the NFL in 2016 with San Francisco after Kansas City drafted him in 2008 with the fifth pick of the first round. At the time, he was the highest drafted LSU defensive lineman in history.
A behemoth defensive tackle from East Ascension High in Gonzales, Dorsey had already become the most decorated player in LSU football history before the national championship game.
He was the first player in college football history to win these four major awards in the same season – the Outland Trophy (best lineman), the Bronko Nagurski (best defensive player), the Vince Lombardi (player best embodying the spirit of the former NFL coach) and the Ronnie Lott (defensive player with most I-M-P-A-C-T in terms of integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community, tenacity).
He also placed ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting and was a consensus first team All-American and the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year.
“That night was one of those moments you never forget, man,” he said. “I had my whole family by my side. I actually had to leave Bourbon Street. I had to go down a side street to get away from the people because I couldn’t walk through ‘em. I was surrounded. I couldn’t move. It was that crazy.”
No offensive line with double teams ever stopped him in his tracks quite like that.
“He was so strong at the point of attack,” said Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, who started on LSU’s defensive line from 1987-89 and was the Tigers’ defensive line coach when Dorsey was a sophomore in 2005 in coach Les Miles’ first season.
“He had what I call heavy hands,” Dunbar said. “He could hold the offensive linemen where he wanted them. He was a dominant force, a classic run stuffer. I loved watching LSU after I left and seeing No. 72 making plays all the time.”
Dorsey remains the most decorated LSU football player in history, and on that championship night – and morning – in New Orleans, he could have been Caesar traversing the streets of Rome at the height of his power and popularity.
“It was a home game for us,” Dorsey said. “I mean, we’re in New Orleans, and the streets are packed with purple and gold. It was LSU everywhere. We were all like, ‘This is our home. This is our state.’ That really was special. That was an amazing feeling walking down Bourbon. That’s the thing I want to live again.”
He will settle for Front Street in Natchitoches at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, where he will be inducted on Aug. 28. He will also be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on Dec. 7 in Las Vegas.
Going into his home state’s Hall has special appeal.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Dorsey said. “I’m bringing my mom, my dad, my wife, my son, my nephew, my sister.”
Basically, the same crew that hit Bourbon with a few new followers.
Dorsey has more experience than most at penetrating crowds. The humanity was thick late on the night of Oct. 6, 2007, too, after No. 1 LSU beat defending national champ Florida and future Heisman winner Tim Tebow, 28-24, in front of 92,910 at Tiger Stadium and thousands more outside. Dorsey negotiated the masses in a golf cart after the game.
He had made five tackles, including a sack of Tebow and two hurries with a pass breakup.
“We owned those A gaps in the middle,” said defensive tackle Marlon Favorite, who had four tackles next to Dorsey. “And I heard the ground shaking once when we met in the backfield. Before the game, everybody was saying, ‘Nobody can stop Tebow.’ I can just remember Glenn after we made a play saying, ‘Yeah, Tim, yeah! We got you!’ He was always that energy on the field. When a game was getting down to the end, he was, ‘C’mon, let’s go, let’s go!’ He brought that every night.”
Afterwards, Dorsey was spent, banged up and getting treatment when LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette rushed in.
“They need you on the GameDay set. You’ve got to get over there,” he said.
ESPN had planted Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Chris Fowler at the Parade Grounds near the student union across campus.
“I’m like, ‘What? I’m soaking wet,’” Dorsey said. “And I hadn’t showered. I hadn’t even taken my jersey off. And Bonnette’s like, ‘Put a shirt on.’”
Dorsey trudged to the golf cart and jumped in next to Miles with Bonnette at the wheel behind a police motorcycle escort.
“I still got equipment on everywhere,” said Dorsey, who had not taken off the tape with “LSU” on it under his eyes or off his fingers. “I could’ve taken that off, but LSU, that’s my heart. I was keeping it on.”
Dorsey should have kept his helmet on, too, as Bonnette had to steer around fans rushing the cart to mob Dorsey and Miles as conquering gladiators.
“It was fun. I felt like a celebrity. We were riding up the hill, and everybody was yelling our names. I’ll never forget that. I felt like the president of the United States. When we got to the Parade Grounds, I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ It was packed. I couldn’t believe that,” Dorsey said.
“And it took some time to get there, weaving through people. There had to be 3,000 or 5,000 surrounding the GameDay set and just wildly partying. I want to tell you, it looked like a hell of a party going on,” Miles said at the time.
“That was amazing, a tremendous feeling just seeing everybody,” Dorsey said. “We were like rock stars.”
It was well earned. Like any garage band, Dorsey had to work tirelessly to gain that status. He didn’t start regularly until his junior year in 2006. Despite leg, knee and tailbone injuries late in his senior season in 2007, he played on, finishing with 69 tackles, seven sacks, four pass breakups and 12.5 stops behind the line despite double teams.
“I’ll never forget what he told me after our sophomore year in 2005 – ‘I have to make these next two years count,’” said Favorite, who signed with Dorsey in coach Nick Saban’s last LSU class in 2004 that was ranked No. 2 nationally.
“Glenn’s determination and will to perform those next two seasons were next to none,” Favorite said. “And he was hurt for the last six games of 2007 after a tackle cut him low against Auburn. He could’ve gone in the first round after ’06, but he wanted to win another national championship for Louisiana.”
Dorsey became a consensus first team All-American in 2006, finishing with 64 tackles and 8.5 behind the line with three sacks.
“He wasn’t the fastest guy, but he had such lower body strength – football strength,” Favorite said.
“He came off every play as if it was his last,” Auburn two-time All-SEC guard Tim Duckworth told ESPN in 2006 after LSU fell 7-3 at Auburn in an old school classic in which Dorsey made eight tackles with three for -17 yards.
“He’s going all out on every play. That’s the type of guy I want on my team,” Duckworth said.
Saban, who will enter the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2022, realized immediately Dorsey’s talent and potential.
“As soon as he came,” Saban said. “I mean you could see he had a lot of explosive power and really good movement. He was smart, very instinctive, and you just knew it was going to be a matter of as soon as he developed the confidence systematically, he was going to be a great player.”
Dorsey started just four games in his first two LSU seasons in 2004 and ’05 because he was behind future NFL defensive tackles Kyle Williams, a six-time All-Pro with Buffalo, and Claude Wroten.
“But you knew it was only a matter of time. He was too good,” said Dunbar, who along with Miles had recruited Dorsey out of East Ascension in 2002 and ’03 while Miles was head coach at Oklahoma State. “He was a hard-working player from the beginning.”
Dorsey considered Oklahoma State.
“Karl and coach Miles saw something in me first, and I took a liking to them,” Dorsey said. “Les came down to my high school. They recruited me hard. I loved Les. But once Saban offered me a scholarship, it was over.”
He committed well before his senior season in 2003, the year LSU won its first national championship since 1958.
“I always wanted to go to LSU. And after hearing coach Saban speak, it was over, man,” Dorsey said. “The type leadership skills he showed, his approach. He was aggressive, hollered, cussed, got on you. I took a liking to that. I was mesmerized. He made me better. I felt like I was taking the field with General Patton or something. I felt like we couldn’t lose. And I was only with him one year.”
But LSU could not have picked a better replacement in Dorsey’s mind.
“For coach Miles and coach Dunbar to end up at LSU in 2005, that was special,” he said. “I was like, ‘I know these guys.’ Karl was one of the favorite coaches I worked with ever. It was like it was meant to be. It was perfect. I was all with it.”
LSU was 43-9 overall and 25-7 in the SEC with Dorsey from 2004-07 under Saban, then Miles, with two SEC West titles, one SEC title and that national championship.
For his LSU career, Dorsey made 179 tackles with 13 sacks and 27 stops behind the line.
“None of it was a surprise to me,” Saban said. “Sometimes when you see guys come in as freshmen, you wonder, ‘Is this guy going to be able to continue to make the choices and decisions that he has to make to really become what he’s capable of becoming?’ And it was nice to see that Glenn did that after we left, and he finished his career. That all happens because of the kind of competitive character these guys have and who they are. And Glenn Dorsey was always A plus in all those categories.”
From 2004-07, Dorsey was one of 10 LSU defensive linemen to reach the NFL.
“The defensive line was a strong point of those teams,” Favorite said. “So many of us played in the NFL, and Glenn was definitely the catalyst of it all.”
Former LSU defensive line coach Pete Jenkins, who was at LSU in Saban’s first two years in 2000 and ’01, saw it in Dorsey when he was a 10th grader at Jenkins’ linemen camps in Thibodaux.
“I would like to say I had a keen eye for talent,” Jenkins said. “But what I saw, Ray Charles could’ve seen. There’s this big ole athletic guy who could move, was strong and smart, a hard worker and a fast learner. He was just destined to be what he became – the best LSU defensive tackle ever. And there has been a lot of good ones.”
Dorsey was a solid NFL player for nearly a decade, but injuries slowed him, and he never recaptured the glory of his college days.
“I never felt like I was playing for my home in the NFL,” he said. “It’s all perspective. In college, I felt like I was at home because I was. I was used to it. I took pride in being from southern Louisiana. In the pros, you have all these people who are not familiar with you writing stories about you.”
And just like that, Dorsey returned to Jan. 7, 2008, in New Orleans in his mind.
“It was a story that was so perfect,” he said. “It felt so perfect in Louisiana. It was like a dream. It would’ve been different in another state. It felt so good to be embraced by home.”
More embraces to come in Natchitoches.