Final Spring Depth Chart
A look at the Tigers’ two-deep exiting spring practice
By BEN LOVE
Tiger Rag Editor
Isn’t it great that we’re in April and still able to talk college football?
That’s what happens in a place like Baton Rouge and with a team like LSU.
Interest never dies.
So as we at Tiger Rag wish everybody out there a Happy Easter, we also come to the table bearing gifts, namely our projected two-deep depth chart of the 2012 LSU football team.
A couple of quick notes: First, in terms of true freshmen from the recruiting Class of 2012, only early enrollees who participated in spring drills were included in this mix. Second, there are some positions, most notably running back and along the defensive line, where LSU will platoon players. For that reason, we’ve italicized every player who could be considered “first-team.” So when you see a guy listed second who is still italicized (like DE Lavar Edwards, for example), it means he’s in that platoon grouping and is expected to play a lot. Finally, if we’ve listed more than two players at a position, it’s only because more than two will play or because the next guy in line is fairly obvious/notable.
We hope you enjoy.
QB: Zach Mettenberger, Jr.; Stephen Rivers, Fr.
HB: Spencer Ware, Jr.; Michael Ford, Jr.; Kenny Hilliard, So.; Alfred Blue; Jr.
FB: J.C. Copeland, Jr.; Connor Neighbors, Jr.
WR (X): James Wright, Jr.; Russell Shepard, Sr.
WR (Z): Odell Beckham, So.; Jarvis Landry, So.
TE: Chase Clement, Sr.; Tyler Edwards, Sr.
LT: Chris Faulk, Jr.; Chris Davenport, Jr.
LG: La’el Collins, So.; Josh Dworaczyk, Sr.
C: P.J. Lonergan, Sr.; Elliott Porter, So.
RG: Josh Williford, Jr.; Trai Turner, Fr.
RT: Alex Hurst, Sr.; Vadal Alexander, Fr.; Jonah Austin, Fr.
Starting at quarterback, Zach Mettenberger has taken the reins of an LSU offense that now feels more comfortable airing it out. This will still be a run-first football team, but Mettenberger’s pocket poise and strong arm will force opposing defenses to respect the Tigers’ vertical passing game. His backup is Stephen Rivers, but Les Miles has indicated incoming frosh Jeremy Liggins and Jerrard Randall will continue to compete for second-team duties.
At running back LSU is as loaded as any other unit on the field. As many as six players can be expected to see legitimate time in Frank Wilson’s ‘If we recruit you, we play you’ system. A trimmed-down Spencer Ware will be first-up, with bruiser Kenny Hilliard close in his rearview. Michael Ford sat out much of spring recovering from a knee injury, but he’ll contend for second-half carries again. Alfred Blue and newcomer Jeremy Hill are next with Terrence Magee rounding out the crew. J.C. Copeland will be relied upon heavily at fullback, getting some assistance from Hill, a 225-pounder.
The receiving big picture also came into focus this spring. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are options 1 and 1-A with 6-2 James Wright and speedy Russell Shepard next. Wright, a prototype X-receiver, will have his chance to fill Rueben Randle’s shoes. Chase Clement and Tyler Edwards will man the tight end position, providing two quality extensions of the offensive line.
The O-Line will be a major strength of the 2012 squad. It looks like La’el Collins will have first crack at the starting left guard gig with Josh Dworaczyk giving LSU a versatile, experienced backup at both guard spots. The other four are all returning starters. Of the second-team five, however, none were in last year’s two-deep.
DE: Sam Montgomery, Jr.; Jermauria Rasco, So.
DT: Bennie Logan, Jr.; Ego Ferguson, So.; Quentin Thomas, Fr.
DT: Anthony Johnson; So.; Josh Downs, Sr.
DE: KeKe Mingo; Jr.; Lavar Edwards, Sr.
OLB: Tahj Jones, Jr.; Lamar Louis, Fr.;
MLB: Kevin Minter, Jr.; D.J. Welter, So.
OLB: Lamin Barrow, Jr.; Luke Muncie, Jr.
CB: Tharold Simon, Jr.; David Jenkins, Fr.
FS: Eric Reid; Jr.; Ronald Martin, So.
SS: Craig Loston, Jr.; Micah Eugene, Fr.
CB: Tyrann Mathieu, Jr.; Jalen Collins, Fr.
Not a single name changed in our two-deep along the defensive line during spring practice. That’s because many of these guys are proven entities. Sam Montgomery, KeKe Mingo and Lavar Edwards comprise arguably the best defensive end trio in the SEC while Jermauria Rasco will see his role increase. At tackle the Tigers will throw four players at offensive lines frequently. If Quentin Thomas keeps developing, it could be five.
At linebacker the starting three are a fairly safe bet at this point. Kevin Minter is LSU’s most experienced returner in the middle, and Tahj Jones and Lamin Barrow are expected to flank him. Jones is on more solid ground while Barrow must continue to ward off Luke Muncie and the pack of freshman OLBs. Of that group, Lamar Louis and Ronnie Feist had great springs. Louis is faster, but Feist packs more of a punch when he finds ball-carriers. Both will factor in on special teams. D.J. Welter is the primary backup in the middle.
For the first time in three years, there are some questions in the secondary. Not questions of talent, just of serviceable depth … and who will provide it. Jalen Collins leaves spring as the third corner, most likely to line up opposite Tharold Simon when Tyrann Mathieu pushes down. Eric Reid is the given at free safety, but Craig Loston has Micah Eugene and Ronald Martin on his heels. Both will play in 2012, with Eugene garnering a look at dime-back.
Editor Ben Love reports on LSU football and men’s basketball for Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.