LSU will begin a season with its highest ranking in four years from the AFCA Coaches preseason Top 25 poll that was released Monday.
The Tigers of second-year coach Brian Kelly, who return 25 players that started at least one game last year, received 1,294 votes and were ranked No. 5 – matching their ranking to begin the 2020 season. They were ranked No. 2 to open the 2007 season.
Two-time defending NCAA champion Georgia received 61 first-place votes and 1,643 points to receive the No. 1 ranking followed by Michigan (1,510), Alabama (1,489) and Ohio State (1,485).
LSU will open the season on Sept. 3 in Orlando against No. 8 Florida State at Camping World Stadium.
The Tigers went 10-4 in Kelly’s first season, winning the SEC Western Division and advancing to the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. They concluded the season with a 63-7 triumph over Purdue in the Citrus Bowl.
LOADED BACKFIELD: With fifth-year senior John Emery Jr. back on the team after concentrating on academics this spring and summer, LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson had eight scholarship players taking part in drills. The Tigers have seniors Josh Williams and Noah Cain, along with Emery, Notre Dame transfer Logan Diggs, junior Armoni Goodwin and incoming freshmen Trey Holly and Kaleb Jackson.
FAMILARITY UP FRONT: LSU began its practice indoors with four returning offensive lineman from a year ago. The Tigers lined up with senior Charles Turner III at center, junior Miles Frazier at right guard and sophomores Will Campbell and Emery Jones Jr. at left and right tackles, respectively. Junior Garrett Dellinger, who began the 2022 season at center, was starting at left guard as the replacement of Anthony Bradford, a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks.
The second group running behind them were: senior Marlon Martinez at center, redshirt freshman Ben Bordelon at left tackle, sophomore Kimo Makane’ole at left guard, Maryland transfer Mason Lunsford at right guard and freshman Lance Heard at right tackle.
TOP PLAYS: Wide receiver Malik Nabers was able to defeat tight coverage for a catch against cornerback Zy Alexander … Back-up quarterback Garrett Nussmeier overcame a diving interception by safety Andre Sam with a terrific throw to freshman Shelton Sampson Jr. … Starting quarterback Jayden Daniels also completed downfield passes to sophomore wide receiver Chris Hilton Jr. and Lacy … The Tigers also had nice catches from Alabama transfer Aaron Anderson, redshirt freshman Javen Nicholas, freshmen Jalen Brown, Kyle Parker and Khai Prean and freshmen tight ends Jackson McGowan and Ka’Morreun Pimpton.
GOOD HANDS: LSU turned to Gregory Clayton, Javen Nicholas, Kyle Parker and Aaron Anderson to field punts and running backs Cain, Diggs and Holly to field kickoffs.
EARLIER BEEF: LSU had a small dust up during the indoor portion of practice with Turner and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Maason Smith having to be separated but no punches were thrown.
MAKING HIS PRESCENCE KNOWN: LSU defensive analyst Bob Diaco, who was elevated to an on-field role in the absence of defensive line coach Jimmy Lindsey, worked with the team’s coverage units during special teams work.
WOUNDED TIGERS: Sophomore kicking specialist Nathan Dibert, Arizona defensive tackle transfer Paris Shand, freshman cornerback Kylin Jackson and sophomore safety Matthew Langlois were injured and held out of contact. They all did some light jogging in the far corner of the end zone. … Ohio State transfer cornerback JK Johnson had his left leg wrapped and propped up on a scooter to move around.