LSU head coach Ed Orgeron confirmed a report Wednesday evening that starting defensive tackle Ed Alexander will declare for the 2019 NFL Draft and sit out of the Tigers’ Fiesta Bowl appearance against UCF on Jan. 1.
Alexander came on strong in the latter part of the year as his counterpart Breiden Fehoko began dealing with injury.
“I was going to led Ed announce it, but Ed Alexander came to me, and he is not playing in the bowl game,” Orgeron said. “He’s foregoing his senior year to go into the draft, and we wish him the best.”
Alexander finished the season with 28 tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and four quarterback hurries.
With him and Fehoko now out of the bowl game, Orgeron said the Tigers will look to Tyler Shelvin to step up in a big way against a high-powered offense in UCF.
“Yeah, it is (tough), but you have to deal with it,” Orgeron said. “Tyler Shelvin is going to have to step up. We’re very thin at defensive line, and we’re very thin at cornerback. Those thing happen and we have to deal with it.”
Defensive line isn’t the only place the Tigers will lack depth in Glendale, Ariz. LSU will also be without both of its starting cornerbacks with Greedy Williams also declaring for the draft and Kristian Fulton out after having surgery. Starting linebacker Jacob Philips will also miss the first half of the game due to a suspension after being called for targeting in the fourth overtime of LSU’s 74-72 loss to Texas A&M.
“This is going to be a challenge, especially since we’re short at corner,” Orgeron said during his radio show Wednesday night. “We don’t have Greedy, we have a couple guys that are hurt, and we have some guys that are going to have to step up.”
One such guy could be Jontre Kirklin. The sophomore that Orgeron and his staff have been trying to find a role for has spent the last couple days practicing at cornerback with the hope being he may be able to contribute against the Knights if needed.
“Those guys run a hurry-up offense, and they’re going to run 90 snaps a game,” Orgeron said. “We’re going to have to alternate our defense, so we may have to use (Kirklin). We want to get him back in there. In the case that someone gets hurt, we have an emergency plan to get him in there.”