Players given opportunities to step up for LSU in Citrus Bowl
The 2022 LSU football roster has changed a bit ahead of the Citrus Bowl matchup with Purdue. Ten players could draw additional attention or a starter’s role thanks to portal and draft defections as well as the coaching staff’s eyes toward 2023.
The future will be on full display.
DE Quency Wiggins
Exhibit A is the 6-5, 275-pound freakish athlete who has just scratched the surface for what looks to be a very promising career. He initially honed his skills on the basketball court at Madison Prep prior to his budding football status.
The four-star 2022 signee participated in four games this season, but due to rule changes, Wiggins will be eligible to play in the Citrus Bowl without burning his redshirt. He has great upside with the ability to dominate once he puts it all together. He reminds me of former LSU and NFL defensive lineman Marquise Hill. With the size and skill to play inside or outside, Wiggins brings the versatility coaches crave. He learned a great deal observing B.J. Ojulari and Ali Gaye this season.
DT Tygee Hill.
The 6-3, 300 pounder tacked on 40 pounds since he left Edna Karr as a three-star prospect in ’22. He played against Southern and UAB this season. Hill started as a freshman at the New Orleans high school powerhouse. He is similar to current Tigers lineman Mekhi Wingo. Hill has flashed a desire for relentless pursuit.
LB Demario Tolan
Another four-star signee from the 2022 class out of Orlando, Fla. could announce his presence with authority in his hometown. The 6-2, 222 pounder played in every game this season with the exception of the season opener against Florioa State, recordeing 10 tackles and a pair of hurries.
Tolan is behind Greg Penn III on the depth chart. Tremendous lateral movement, he ran the 110 meter hurdles in high school. He locates the ball quickly, runs exceptionally well, has a high football IQ, quick reflexes, can drop into coverage and is a good tackler in space.
DE Sai’Vion Jones
The 6-6, 250-pound product of St. James, who tabbed District 9-3A Defensive MVP as a senior, recorded 56 tackles for loss 27 sacks and three blocked punts during his junior and senior seasons. He is an elite pass rusher and possesses similar traits to LSU and NFL edge Danielle Hunter.
Jones played in all 13 contests this season, totalling 22 tackles with five for losses and 3.5 sacks. He started 2 games against Southern and New Mexico.
An explosive initial step makes him a potential star. Jones will be heavily counted upon vs. Purdue without Ali Gaye and B.J. Ojulari available for the game.
CB Laterrance Welch
The backup to Jay Ward in the bowl game, the 6-2, 187-pound Acadiana product played in 12 games as a true freshman. He is blessed with loose hips and the ability to transition smoothly. While at Acadiana, he intercepted a two-point conversion in the 2020 state title game, preserving a 35-34 Acadiana win. Welch is physically similar to Corey Webster at the same stage.
DT Bryce Langston
He made two game appearances in 2022 (Southern and New Mexico). Adding over 40 pounds since he enrolled at LSU, the 6-3, 293-pound product of Ocala, Fla. was a four-star recruit in 2021. After redshirting in ’21, he made incremental improvement since.
Langston could be in the line rotation against Purdue to see how much he has improved. He does show a great first step.
OG Tre’Mond Shorts
The transfer from East Tennessee State is listed as the backup at right guard behind Anthony Bradford. Appearing in 13 games with no starts this season, he earned FCS All American acclaim in 2021. The Citrus Bowl could afford Shorts (6-5, 340) some opportunities to prove his worth moving toward 2023.
QB Walker Howard
The No. 1 ranked dual threat quarterback out of St. Thomas More in the 2022 class made one game appearnce against Southern in mop up duty. Depending upon the score in the Citrus Bowl, the 6-1, 195-pound son of former LSU quarterback Jamie Howard could see the field late in the contest.
The secnd generation Howard is very accurate and can really spin the ball. He has good placement on his throws and keeps his eyes downfield while he’s on the move in the pocket. Very polished, Howard has observed and learned a great deal this past season.
DB Jordan Allen
Set to serve as backup to Sage Ryan, Allen played in three games this season (vs. Southern, Mississippi State and New Mexico). The Lafayette Christian product turns a 10.94 in the 100 meters and has excellent ball skills. He rarely repeats the same mistake. Allen (5-11,195) can play anywhere in the secondary and closes quickly on the ball.
WR Evan Francioni
The poster boy for heart and effort as an underdog in aprogram, the 6-foot, 203-pound Rummel grad played baseball one season at UNO prior to his transfer to Tigertown. He was twice All-Metro and All-District in baseball.
A three-time Academic All-SEC selection, Francioni has made 31 game appearances at LSU with six this season in which he recorded one catch for six yards. The former walk-on earned his scholarship as a reliable special teams contributor and a team leader in the locker room.
With the receiver room shrinking without Kayshon Boutte, Jaray Jenkins and Jack Bech, Francioni has moved up the depth chart. He has paid his dues and has earned an opportunity in his final game in a Tiger uniform. It would be awesome to see him write a Cinderella story for himself Monday in Orlando.
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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…