Coming off a lopsided loss to Alabama, LSU is dealing with a major off-the-field issue as star freshman TE Arik Gilbert has left the team, and was not at practice on Monday.

On his regular Tuesday appearance on “Off the Bench” on ESPN Baton Rouge, coach Ed Orgeron said Gilbert came to him on Monday and said he was thinking about opting out of the season. Gilbert told Orgeron that he was hurting and needs to get better, and that the freshman’s mother was in town, and he didn’t know he Gilbert had announced anything yet.

The 5-star recruit was widely seen as the crown jewel of LSU’s 2020 class. Orgeron commented on the LSU program possibly welcoming Gilbert back.

“That’s what he discussed with me,” Orgeron said. “I think if he opts out and he wants to come back I would definitely take him back. He’s a great young man and we treat him like family.”

While Orgeron’s message to the team early in the season as it struggled was to “stay together,” co-host T-bob Hebert asked Orgeron if the team has “broken apart.”

“No. Not at all,” Orgeron said. “Look at the way they fought the whole (Alabama) game. They fought the whole game. Obviously we could execute better and that was a great football team we played. But as practicing hard, as far as fighting, we had a great meeting (Monday) and a great practice.”

Orgeron said he doesn’t believe there’s a disconnect between the players and coaches.

“A year ago we were the best team in the country. We’re going to find out who’s really behind us,” Orgeron said. “We’re going to find out who really loves the Tigers. Because we will be champions again. Whatever you’re hearing, I’m not buying.”