Future beckons: LSU defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo declares for the 2024 NFL Draft

Freshman offensive tackle Lance Heard enters transfer portal

PHOTO BY: LSU athletics

LSU junior defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo believed it was important to accompany his teammates and play in Monday’s ReliaQuest Bowl.  

As one of the team’s captains who wore the revered No. 18 jersey, Wingo tried to uphold his obligation to the Tigers through their 35-31 victory over Wisconsin and assess his future afterward.

A day after LSU completed its season with a 10-3 record, Wingo released a heartfelt statement Tuesday on social media that said he was declaring for the NFL Draft.

“What’s best for me and my family,” Wingo said when asked Dec. 21 about what would go into such a decision. “I’m going to keep gathering information and try to make an educated decision at the end of the year.”

Wingo is the first LSU player with remaining eligibility to opt for the NFL Draft. Wide receivers Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. have until Jan. 15 to meet the deadline to enter the ’24 draft.

That Wingo, a third team All-America choice in 2022, finished the season after undergoing surgery midway through the season. He underwent abdominal surgery and missed the team’s final five games of the regular season.

When LSU began preparations for the Jan. 1 ReliaQuest Bowl, Wingo was back at practice with the intention of playing in the game.  

“I’m the captain of this team,” Wingo said. “I feel like I owe those guys to come back and play and help get that 10th win. I hate that I had to have surgery and miss the season but it’s important to finish out the season with those guys.”

Wingo was in the starting lineup for No. 13 LSU which rallied from a pair of 14-point deficits and took a four-point win over Wisconsin. He had three tackles, including two tackles for loss and two sacks, helping the Tigers defense close out the bowl victory.

Wingo finished with 25 tackles in eight games with 5 TFLs and 2 sacks. Last season, the transfer from Missouri, recorded 46 tackles, 6 TFLs, 3 sacks, a forced fumble and four passes broken up.

The native of St. Louis, Missouri was selected to The Associated Press and Coaches All-SEC second team for his efforts. He was also chosen to the Freshman All-SEC team in ’21 at Missouri with 27 tackles in 12 games with two TFLs, one sack and interception and defensive touchdown.

HEARD, BROWN IN THE PORTAL: Freshman All-SEC selection Lance Heard of Monroe, a 6-6l 240-pounder, has reportedly made Monday’s deadline and entered the NCAA transfer portal following his first season in Baton Rouge.

Heard, a five-star standout Neville High, did not travel with the team to Tampa, Florida for the ReliaQuest Bowl. He played in a total of 195 snaps, the most of any non-starter, this season. With starting right tackle Emery Jones Jr. getting injured in the first quarter of the Auburn games, Heard played a career-high 59 snaps in a 48-18 victory on Oct. 14.

Heard made his first career start of place of Jones against Army. He played in 58 snaps during a 62-0 victory.

“He is looking at his role at LSU and evaluating it,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said of Heard last Friday. “We will pick up the conversations with him and his family after the bowl game.”

Freshman wide receiver Jalen Brown of Miami also entered the transfer portal. The former four-star prospect from Gulliver Prep High saw action in three games – Missouri, Army and Georgia State – and was redshirted and didn’t record any statistics.

The 6-1, 178-pounder had 111 career catches at Gulliver Prep for 2,396 yards and 25 touchdowns. As a senior, he saw action in six games because of an injury and made 22 receptions with 401 yards and 3 TDs.

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