LSU’s No. 3 wide receiver in 2023 wants to be No. 1 in 2024.
So, wide receiver Kyren Lacy will take advantage of the NCAA’s COVID exception and return for an additional year of eligibility next season.
“I sat down with (LSU) coach Kelly, all the coaches, and everything just sounded right,” Lacy said Monday. “I just said I was going to come back.”
With LSU expected to lose both of its top two receivers – Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. – to the ’24 NFL Draft – Lacy has the opportunity to ascend to the top of the Tigers depth chart. It’s a position dominated by a lot of young and unproven talent with Lacy and redshirt sophomore Chris Hilton Jr. expected to leaders for the group.
They will be on display during the team’s trip to Tampa, Florida when No. 13 LSU (9-3) faces Wisconsin (7-5) in the Jan. 1 ReliaQuest Bowl at 11 a.m.
Lacy matched his ’22 total of 24 receptions for 463 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns this season. He had five of his touchdowns in the team’s last six games.
“Basically pick up where I left off, improve way more, be a leader, bring the younger guys up and be the leader that we need,” Lacy said of the reasons for returning. I know I can be that leader.”
With Hilton (10-169, TD) being the most experienced receivers outside of Lacy, along with first-year redshirt freshman wide out Aaron Anderson (12-59) back, LSU had a trio of true freshmen – Shelton Sampson Jr., Kyle Parker and Jalen Brown – that all played in three games but did not record any statistics.
Lacy sees bright futures for that group.
“This is really important because those younger guys have put in a lot of work during the season and offseason,” Lacy said of the bowl game. “It’s going to be amazing to see what the young guys are going to do. I’m really excited to see where Shelton and all of those guys are going to do. They’ve worked so hard for it, so I’m interested to see what they’re going to do when their time and the opportunity comes. I know they’re going to take advantage of it.”
After making 50 catches for 768 yards and 10 TDs in two years at UL-Lafayette, Lacy transferred to LSU for the ’22 season. He started twice in 14 games and had 24 grabs for 268 yards without a touchdown.
Lacy, who caught at least one pass in 11 games, flashed with big moments such as three catches for 43 yards against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. The Thibodaux native also had a 45-yard reception in last year’s Citrus Bowl against Purdue.
The start to his ’23 season was a rollercoaster with back-to-back games of three catches against Florida State and Grambling followed by zero receptions in wins over Mississippi State and Arkansas.
In LSU’s 48-11 win over Auburn, Lacy had four catches for a career-high 111 yards and a touchdown and enjoyed another 100-yard effort in a 56-14 triumph over Georgia State, catching a season-high five passes for 101 yards and a season-high two touchdowns.
“When you have the best receivers in the nation leading in front of you,” Lacy said, “just pick up the little tips they had and go after that.”
NOTES: After saying he was entering the NCAA transfer portal last Friday, LSU safety/cornerback Sage Ryan will remain with the Tigers. He confirmed the news to The Advocate after Tuesday’s bowl practice for Wisconsin. … LSU redshirt freshman defensive tackle Tygee Hill of Karr High in New Orleans announced that he was entering the transfer portal. He played in six games in ’23 and had two tackles with a pass breakup.