The biggest question mark on LSU’s defense could get an answer, sooner rather than later.
With his hearing with the NCAA set for August 9, third-year cornerback Kristian Fulton hopes to have his two-year suspension for an attempt to falsify a drug test halved, rendering him eligible for the 2018 season and, conveniently, giving the Tigers a former five-star to pair with All-American Greedy Williams in the secondary.
With Kevin Toliver and Donte Jackson now in the NFL, the Tigers are looking for a starter alongside Williams. Fulton, a five-star recruit in the 2016 class, has the most blue-chip pedigree, while Orgeron is also looking at Scotlandville freshman Kelvin Joseph, graduate transfer Terrance Alexander, and returnees Jontre Kirklin and Kary Vincent.
Fulton was the No. 1 player in the state of Louisiana in 2016, according to 247Sports, and he was the No. 3 corner in his recruiting class.
“As you all heard, (Fulton’s) case is being re-opened,” head coach Ed Orgeron said Wednesday at the Baton Rouge Rotary Club meeting in Tiger Stadium. “If he is eligible, he can perhaps start for us. That would help us out. We could put Kristian at corner and move Kelvin Joseph back to safety. WE’re going to have to play with that scenario as it all folds out.”
While Orgeron couldn’t offer any further insight into Fulton’s status, he did credit the Rummel graduate for the way he’s worked while suspended.
“Obviously I wish him for the best,” Orgeron said. “I will say this: I want to give him credit. Kristian has come to work every day, never blinked. He’s been a tremendous young man for us.”
LSU reports to camp Friday, with practices set to begin Saturday.
DEEP AT WIDE
The strength of Steve Ensminger’s offense, Orgeron continues to insist, will be at wide receiver, where LSU brings in the top receiver class in the country from 2018 alongside a stable of veterans with plenty of talent, though with little production yet to show for it.
“I can’t wait to watch our receivers,” said Orgeron, who says he’s asked his quarterbacks about how that position has developed during the summer, when coaches can’t work with players while balls are on the field.
“Names come up like, Ja’Marr Chase – freshman. Kenan Jones – freshman. Terrace Marshall – freshman. We signed the No.1 wide receiver recruiting class in the country to go along with Racey McMath, Stephen Sullivan, Justin Jefferson, Jonathan Giles, who caught 69 balls at Texas Tech. That’s more than the last 10 years our receivers have caught balls. We feel we’re going to be very strong at the wide receiver position. I’m excited to see it.”
Jefferson continues to impress after a breakout spring and will look to start alongside Giles, the most proven of the bunch. The sophomore, like his fellow returners, will need to hit the ground running when LSU takes the field Sept. 2 against Miami in Arlington.
“He’s matured under Jerry Sullivan,” Orgeron said. “The thing we need to understand, this is the first time a lot of those guys are going to be playing in games. There’s going to be growth through the season. Hopefully the first game they’ll be able to go out there and execute like they do in practice. There will be a couple of game day jitters, but that’s to be expected with receivers.’
SAINTS STYLE SWINGS AND SCREENS
LSU didn’t have to look far for offensive influences this offseason. Orgeron said several offensive assistants from the New Orleans Saints made the trek down I-10 to work with Ensminger on crafting his offense, particularly with how to get the backfield involved in the passing game.
The Tigers utilized Darrel Williams as a receiver a year ago – he finished second on the team in receptions (23) and yards (331). They’d like to do the same with versatile back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, as well.
“One of the things we did this spring, we did a lot of research and development,” Orgeron said. “Sean Payton, they allowed a couple of offensive staff members, their offensive coordinator, to come spend the day with us. Here’s what we studied: their screen game, the way they get the ball to their backs out of the backfield, their empty package, their red zone package. Those things, we’re going to develop.
“This is going to be a different offense than you’ve been watching for a while.”