LSU future bright heading into more stable offseason
The topsy-turvy highs and lows of college football this season have kept LSU fans on a wild rollercoaster. Saturday night was the latest low but bright days are ahead. I’m not referring to the SEC Championship tilt this weekend either. Let’s look beyond that.
LSU had 17 players participate in Senior Day prior to the final home game against UAB. A couple of those could decide to return with eligibility remaining but in all likelihood will depart. There are a few others – I won’t mention names right now because it would be purely speculative – who will enter the transfer portal seeking greener pastures.
Much like with the 2022 signing class, I anticipate that the upcoming signing class will add players who could push for sizeable playing time, much like Harold Perkins, Will Campbell, Mason Taylor and Emery Jones have done as impressive true freshmen.
Brian Kelly and his staff have been adept at re-stocking the roster with quality talent since their arrival. Eleven current starters (five on offense and six on defense) arrived via the transfer portal or came through as high school signees.
Much like the high school prospects, players in the transfer portal have star rankings. Don’t get too caught up in how many stars a player has. A transfer may have played a lot on the college level and earned his rating or not as much as expected after being a highly-rated prep recruit. If Kelly adds a transfer, there is a vision for the player. There will be no reason for signings like last offseason that may have been gambles just to fill out what was a thin roster.
The transfer portal opens for 45 days beginning December 5 and closes January 18. The second open period takes place May 1-15. Don’t expect a Bonnet Carre’ Spillway-type opening immediately when the portal gates swing wide next month. Coaching staffs have to do their home work in order to get desired results. However, some deals will come together quickly.
Kelly recently told ESPN writer Tom VanHaarenm “I think you have to do your due diligence, similar to what an NFL board would do relative to people that are on the waiver wire,” Kelly stated. “People that are free agents or anything like that, you better know the guys that are from the areas that you are looking at and so I think it expands your personnel department and puts more of an emphasis on understanding players that are in other programs.”
LSU added 16 transfer portal players to supplement the 2022 class but during the transfer cycle this year only 61% of the players in the portal had a scholarship available from another school. It’s a lesson to athletes to look before you leap. When a player enters the transfer portal, he assumes a risk.
Don’t be surprised if you recognize a couple of players who LSU recruited in the ’22 class showing up in the portal this tme around. For some, their initial opportunity in college football did not offer enough promise once they arrived or a coaching change (including assistants) could be on the horizon. The LSu staff will analyze each individual case, assuring that the prospect fits the criteria that Kelly has detailed.
This offseason will not be a wild scramble like Kelly’s first with the Tigers. The players returning will know what is expected. Kelly and company will have a better understanding of the lay of the land at LSU and the recruiting territory.
What the LSU boss may need to do is replace coaches. Defensive coordinator Matt House’s name has already popped up as a promising up-and-comer. Receivers coach Cortez Hankton is a highly-regarded assistant and recruiter. LSU retained offensive coach Brad Davis from the Orgeron era, and that Davis has done since the Florida State game to mold an inexperienced line with two true freshman tackles has been extraordinary. College programs will inquire.
Kelly stated last week that he won’t stand in the way of any assistants upgrading their career. Doing otherwise would hurt LSU long term, of course.
The areas that I expect LSU to focus on to bolster the roster are the both the offensive and defensive lines as well as the secondary.
Depending on what happens with Jayden Daniels, the Tigers could add a transfer portal QB to enhance the competition and upgrade the depth. Look for Daniels to test draft waters at the appropriate time. If he were to receive a day two draft grade, he could opt for leave. I feel like Daniels would more than likely receive a mid-to-late round grade at best.
One would think Daniels will opt for the chance to continue his growth from this past season. Returning to lead a potential national title contender as a Heisman candidate must be appealing.
Whatver occurs with the remainder of this season, the transfer portal and overall signing class will determine the direction that the Tigers will take for not only the immediate future but for the next several years.
Under Kelly’s watch, LSU is a little bit ahead of schedule based on where the program was upon his arrival. I know that Tiger faithful were caught up in the success of this season and wanted lots more once a playoff spot was within reach but the team certainly exceeded expectations from where the season began.
The fact remains, Kelly will not deviate from his long-range plans and standards for building a conssitent winner.
With national signing day just around the corner and the transfer portal prevalent in college football life, fans everywhere are transformed into children around the Christmas tree, ready to open big presents with wide eyes with every tweet or news blurb. It’s a fun time of the year to follow the chaos.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to play football at LSU, developing a passion for the game in even greater fashion while in…