Identifying LSU redshirt candidates
LSU is supposed to be a three-year program, if you believe the talking points.
Players come in, don’t redshirt, and are gone to the NFL after three years, the story goes.
Whether or not that was ever a fair assessment is a subject for another time. One thing is for sure: If you are ready to play, Les Miles isn’t afraid to put you on the field your freshman year, even if your snaps are limited.
But it doesn’t mean you necessarily will play, and this year is a year where more freshmen may have to wait, thanks to bucking its early departure trend.
With seniors like Kendell Beckwith (linebacker), Tre’Davious White (cornerback), Ethan Pocic (center) and the entire starting defensive line opting to return for their senior seasons when they could have left for the NFL, it’ll be harder for many members of the talented 2016 recruiting class, ranked No. 3 in the nation in the 247 composite, to get on the field.
LSU had 10 redshirts in last year’s recruiting class, and it’s possible the Tigers might have more this time around.
Here are some of the most likely candidates to sit out their freshman seasons:
QB Lindsey Scott, Jr.
It’s true that Miles likes to play players that show they are ready, and Scott has a reputation for being a high-IQ player and a good leader, so the three-star recruit could be more ready than other true freshmen who have passed through the program in recent years, including current starter Brandon Harris.
But with Harris and Purdue transfer Danny Etling in the program, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where LSU needs Scott to help right away. More likely, the plan is that he’ll redshirt, play sparingly as a redshirt freshman, then compete to replace Harris as the starter as a third-year sophomore.
Interior offensive linemen
LSU got two guard commitments for 2016 in Donavaughn Campbell and Lloyd Cushenberry, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Tigers will need them right away.
LSU has a returning starter in Will Clapp at one spot and a senior in Josh Boutte at the other, but he’s being pushed by junior Garrett Brumfield. Another starter from last year, Maea Teuhema, has been moved to tackle and if that experiment doesn’t work out, he could be moved back to guard. Also, K.J. Malone is competing to start at tackle but could easily move inside.
At center, senior Ethan Pocic and backup Andy Dodd are solid veterans. Dodd could be an option at guard as well.
There are enough older players competing where it would take a lot of injuries to imagine a scenario where a true freshman will play on the inside.
It’s different at tackle, where the Tigers are looking for two new starters. The Teuhema move to left tackle seems promising, and Weathersby and Malone will have an interesting battle at right tackle, but there could be room for a younger player to compete.
TE Jamal Pettigrew
This is a position where LSU has some clearly defined roles among its veterans, so it’s hard to imagine LSU needing Pettigrew to play right away with a plethora of older players at the position with a similar skill set who have been used sparingly in the past.
Pettigrew’s reputation is that of a rangy pass-catcher in a similar mold as senior DeSean Smith and sophomore Jacory Washington, neither of whom have seen a ton of playing time.
More likely, Pettigrew’s time will come in 2017 after Smith and starter Colin Jeter complete their eligibility. Blocking specialist Foster Moreau will be a junior in 2017, and Pettigrew could make an impact as a redshirt freshman competing to be the pass-catcher along with Washington.
K Connor Culp
This is one that can easily swing the other way given Culp’s talent, but if returning place kicker Trent Domingue continues to be consistent (13-of-17 field goals and 49-of-50 on extra points last year), and Cameron Gamble progresses in kickoffs, LSU may be better served allowing Culp to reshirt and have four years left.
Domingue is a senior and Gamble a junior, so it’s not hard to imagine Culp becoming the starter on placement kicks as a reshirt freshman, then add kickoff duties as a sophomore.