The 2017 season was one that saw LSU deploy true freshmen all over the field, with a presumed record of 17 playing in the season opener against BYU alone. That mark is unlikely to be broken anytime soon.
This year’s team will again have plenty of news faces, including in some marquee positions, but those faces won’t necessarily be quite as young.
Two graduate transfers, three transfers who sat out last season, a Division II signee and a handful of true rookies figure to assume critical roles this fall. Here are the 10 most likely to make a major impact on the 2018 season.
- Thaddeus Moss | TE
The son of Hall-of-Famer Randy Moss spent his NCAA-mandated redshirt season refining his technique as a blocker, but his hands and ability to create mismatches are the reasons he should play a role in the offense this season. Moss can line up at tight end or split out wide and even worked in the backfield some as an H-back this spring.
- Tae Provens & Chris Curry | RB
There are carries up for grabs in a largely unproven LSU backfield headed into the fall, and these two freshmen could quickly play their way into a share of the action. Provens showcased his speed and propensity to make defenders miss in space during the spring game. Curry is an old school battering ram of a back who could find a role in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
- Terrace Marshall & Ja’Marr Chase | WR
These five-star receivers were the crown jewels of LSU’s 2018 signing class, and the fact that Ed Orgeron likened them signing to Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry was a pretty good hint that both are very much in the plans for this season. Offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger wants to spread the field with more three- and four-receiver sets, so both Marshall and Chase have a chance to contribute right away.
- Kelvin Joseph | CB
The lone defensive back in LSU’s signing class is set to move from safety to cornerback in order to provide depth at a position short on bodies. Joseph is a versatile defender and a sure tackler, so don’t be surprised if he earns immediate playing time in the secondary. Playing inside in nickel and dime packages seem like a natural fit for the hometown product.
- Terrence Alexander | CB
Alexander had to wait until late June to enroll due to Stanford’s academic calendar, but the graduate transfer is expected to compete for the starting spot opposite Greedy Williams in fall camp. The New Orleans native appeared in 41 games for the Cardinal and accrued 51 tackles with eight passes defended before sitting out most of his senior season due to a knee injury.
- Cole Tracy | K
Place kicking was a headache throughout the 2017 season as LSU converted just 16-of-27 field goal attempts (59.2 percent) and missed three extra points. That led to LSU using a scholarship on Tracy, the reigning Division II Kicker of the Year. Tracy connected on 27-of-29 field goal tries and converted all 67 of his PATs for Assumption College last year. Word around LSU is he’s proven reliable from 55 yards and in during summer workouts, which would make him quite the weapon this fall.
- Damien Lewis | OG
The road-grating guard from Mississippi arrived on campus last winter as a JUCO transfer without much fanfare, but he quickly blossomed into one of the breakout stars of the spring. Lewis is a freak in the weight room and a grown man in the trenches, leading Orgeron to repeatedly comment that LSU was needed to find a place for him to play along the offensive line. Expect him to take over one of the guard spots and be a mainstay up front.
- Breiden Fehoko | DL
Having sat out a season after transferring from Texas Tech, Fehoko is set to take over a starting spot along the LSU defensive line. He’s a versatile defender capable of playing anything from nose tackle in a 3-4 front to defensive end in a 4-3 defense. That alone is valuable to Dave Aranda’s defense, and having spent his redshirt year refining his technique, Fehoko could become a disruptive pass rushing force in addition to be a reliable defender against the run.
- Jonathan Giles | WR
LSU didn’t bestow the coveted No. 7 jersey to Giles for him to wear it standing on the sidelines. Like Fehoko, Giles will take on a marquee role after sitting out a year upon transferring from Texas Tech. He led the Red Raiders with 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns on 69 catches during his sophomore season before departing for Baton Rouge. Giles figures to be a focal point in Ensminger’s new aerial attack and could also make an impact in the return game this season.
- Joe Burrow | QB
It’s not every day that somebody with zero career starts is anointed the savior of a blue blood program, but the air of optimism around LSU has been palpable since the biggest graduate transfer on the market signed with the Tigers over Cincinnati. There’s not much game tape on Burrow from his team years as Ohio State’s backup, but what little film exists depicts a passer who is both mobile and accurate. It’s not a foregone conclusion that Burrow is LSU’s starting quarterback as he’ll have to win the job in camp, but he’s widely expected to do just that.