Ed Orgeron was forced to refresh his options when former Cincinnati assistant Marcus Freeman took the Notre Dame defensive coordinator position over the opportunity to take the same position at LSU earlier this offseason but that doesn’t mean the Tigers won’t land a quality coach to lead its defense in 2021.

On Monday, Jane Slater of NFL Media reported that LSU was closing in on Ryan Nielsen, the New Orleans Saints defensive line coach, to be the program’s new defensive coordinator. Orgeron and Nielsen have a history together, as Coach O served as Nielsen’s defensive line coach at USC.

Following her initial report, Slater then clarified her report, noting that Nielsen’s contract in New Orleans may not allow him to leave the Saints for a college coaching position.

During his latest appearance on Baton Rouge-based ESPN 104.5 FM show Off The Bench, Orgeron was asked to share the latest on LSU’s pursuit of Ryan Nielsen.

“We are still working on it,” Orgeron said. “He’s a primary candidate, obviously love Ryan. Ryan is a bright, young, energetic coach, comes to us highly recommended. But there are still things to work out to see if he can come to LSU. Those things are not final yet.”

The LSU coach then shared some of his history with Nielsen.

“Yeah, obviously, I coached Ryan in college at USC,” Orgeron added. “Outstanding player and an outstanding young man who is excited to coach.

“He started voluntarily coaching with us at USC, with me and Coach (Pete) Carroll, then went to Idaho, then came to us, became my full-time defensive line coach and then took off. At North Carolina State, he had four guys that he recruited that were drafted, I think a couple a few were first-round picks, and he’s done a tremendous job with the Saints. He comes to us with rave reviews, but again, the deal is not done.”

Nielsen has been the Saints defensive line coach for four seasons. Prior to landing his NFL job, Nielsen was the defensive line/recruiting coordinator/run game coordinator at North Carolina State from 2013-2016.

During the 2018 NFL Draft, N.C. State defensive linemen — and Nielsen recruits — Bradley Chubb, Mike Rose, B.J. Hill, Justin Jones and Kentavius Street were all drafted.