Position of need: Oregon State linebacker Omar Speights transfers, signs with LSU and fills key role on Tigers’ defense

Oregon State linebacker Omar Speights (1) has transferred and signed with LSU. PHOTO COURTESY: Omar Speights

With the loss of its leading tackler from last season and the departure of another promising linebacker, LSU found itself with a major void on that side of the football for the 2023 season.

The Tigers have taken the steps to fill that need with one of the top defenders in the Pac-12 Conference when Oregon State’s graduate transfer Omar Speights, who entered the NCAA transfer portal of Jan. 12, signed this week with the Tigers, he said on his Twitter account.

The 6-foot-1, 233-pound Speights, a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who made official visits to both LSU and Alabama, started in 38 of 45 games over the past four years at Oregon State and finished ninth in career tackles with 308. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

Speights is ranked 77th on On3Sports’ Transfer Portal top 100 rankings. LSU has also signed No. 23 Denver Harris of Texas A&M, No. 57 Aaron Anderson of Alabama and No. 75 Duce Chestnut of Syracuse.

Leading tackler Micah Baskerville completed his eligibility and true freshman DeMario Tolen, who displayed tremendous upside his first year, transferred to Auburn after the season. The Tigers also lost linebackers Mike Jones Jr. to the NFL Draft and redshirt freshman Kolbe Fields transferred to Louisiana Tech.

LSU signed 25 high school players during the early signing period in December and has signed an additional 11 players through the transfer portal. Speights is the 10th player on defense and first linebacker.

Speights is a three-time All-Pac 12 Conference selection, including first team by Phil Steele’s Magazine this past season. He helped Oregon State (10-3) to its first 10-win season since 2006 which included a 30-3 win over Florida in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Speights also tallied 25 tackles for loss, five sacks and three interceptions during his career.

Speights was the Beavers’ team captain on defense and led the team for the second straight year with 83 tackles, including eight tackles for loss. He recorded a season-high 13 stops in a come-from-behind win over rival Oregon on Senior Day in which he participated and was a member of the Bronko Nagurski Award Watch List.

He earned honorable mention All-Pac 12 honors in 2021 with a team-high 89 tackles, five tackles for loss and two interceptions, a year after landing on Phil Steele’s All-Pac 12 second team with 63 tackles in ’20.

Speights earned freshman All-America honors from The Athletic and USA Today after finishing second with 73 tackles and 7 ½ tackles for loss. His number of tackles ranked him third nationally among true or redshirt freshmen, which included a career-high 18 against Washington – the ninth best performance in school history.

He was an honorable mention choice for the conference’s Defensive Player of Year honor.

Speights moved from Philadelphia to Corvallis, Oregon and completed his high school career at Crescent Valley High. He was rated the nation’s No. 72 linebacker and No. 3 prospect in Oregon by On3Sports. He enrolled early at Oregon State in the spring of 2019.

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William Weathers

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