Five breakout players for LSU in 2014
The LSU Tigers have some holes to fill this season after losing 25 players from their 2013 squad, including quarterback Zach Mettenberger and wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
Here are five players who could break out for the Tigers in 2014:
1. Leonard Fournette (RB): Fournette is an obvious choice for this list as the nation’s No. 1 recruit from the class of 2014. Fournette should have the opportunity to see the field right away as a freshman, although he may start the year as part of a rotation with senior tailbacks Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard.
However, Les Miles’ high praise for Fournette at SEC Media Days leads many fans to believe this kid may be the SEC’s next iconic star.
“He’s got speed, size and strength, he’s goal oriented and he expects more of himself,” Miles said at Media Days. “Michael Jordan was not coached to be Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan expected himself to do something special. That’s the kind of player Leonard Fournette is.”
Earning a comparison to Michael Jordan from your head coach before ever playing a game? Not too shabby. If Fournette can come anywhere close to living up to those expectations as a freshman, he’ll win SEC Freshman of the Year going away.
2. Malachi Dupre (WR): Dupre is a four-star receiver who would serve as the crown gem of most other recruiting classes across the nation. He has been overshadowed somewhat by Fournette, but could still be a dangerous weapon for the Tigers as attempt to replace both their starting receivers from a year ago in Beckham and Landry.
At 6-foot-3, the lanky Dupre is a long-strider who can stretch the field for the Tigers, and his long arms and leaping ability make him an asset on fade routes and jump balls down the field. Like most freshmen, Dupre will have to learn the subtleties of playing the receiver position beyond what his freakish athletic abilities allow, but he has the talent to step right in and make an immediate impact.
3. Rashard Robinson (CB): Robinson is a true sophomore who played in 12 games for LSU as a freshman despite being held out of fall camp due to an NCAA review. The 6-foot-2 corner began to emerge during SEC play and had his best game of the season against Texas A&M’s Mike Evans, who caught just four passes against the Tigers.
Robinson will have an opportunity to start for LSU in 2014 with former corner Jalen Mills moving to safety. At worst he will likely be the team’s third cornerback, an emerging role in college football as more teams adopt variations of the spread offense. His height and size make him an asset against bigger receivers – like Evans, for instance – and if he is able to maintain his rate of development from last season he should be firmly entrenched in the Tigers’ defense by year’s end.
Look for Robinson to improve from his one interception in 2013, especially when making plays on deep balls down the field.
4. Christian LaCouture (DT): LaCouture will be looked upon to make an immediate impact following the departures of former starting tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson, and could live up to those expectations in his first year as a starter.
The former Lincoln, Nebraska star has the size (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) to compete with the interior linemen of the SEC, and showed hints of his upside with 11 tackles and a sack as a freshman in 2013 despite not making a single start on the season.
5. Danielle Hunter (DE): Hunter is a former four-star recruit with impeccable quickness off the ball and an arsenal of deadly pass-rushing moves. He broke into the lineup as a sophomore in 2013, starting LSU’s final 10 games and racking up 57 tackles, eight tackles for loss and three sacks.
Hunter appears to have put on some muscle this offseason as well, evidenced by photos released of Hunter during an LSU workout with veins popping out of his arms like they’re trying to escape. If the 6-foot-6 Hunter can add over-powering strength to his outstanding athleticism, he will be difficult for opposing offensive linemen to stop this season and could become the conference’s next elite pass rusher.