LSU already was losing eight senior starters from this year’s team. Then seven starters who had remaining eligibility decided to leave early for the NFL Draft.

That’s a lot of holes to fill.

So the list of starters the Tigers must find replacements for now includes tackles K.J. Malone and Toby Weathersby, tight end John David Moore, wide receivers D.J. Chark and Russell Gage, linebacker Corey Thompson, nose tackle Greg Gilmore, middle linebacker Donnie Alexander and cornerbacks Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver II.

But here are the five biggest ones in need of filling and a look at the top candidates to do so:

Running back

Derrius Guice’s decision to leave early wasn’t unexpected, but still he won’t be easily replaced. Despite being slowed by injuries, Guice had his second consecutive 1,000-yard season and was LSU’s most productive skill player.

Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire have experience, but it’s incoming freshman Chris Curry (5-11, 200 pounds), a 4-star recruit from Lehigh Acres, Fla., who’s most likely to be the primary ball carrier next season.

Curry has been compared to Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch and like Lynch he is a powerful runner. That style should fit right in with the offense that head coach Ed Orgeron wants to see new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger incorporate.


Danny Etling was efficient in managing the offense for most of the past two years, but LSU needs a bigger playmaker at the position if it’s going to contend for the SEC West title. That’s where Myles Brennan is expected to come in.

Brennan, a record-setting passer in high school in Mississippi, got his feet wet as a first-year freshman last season, but Orgeron resisted the temptation to hand him the reins. The limited game experience and a full year of learning should have Brennan primed to take over next season.


For a while it looked like Will Clapp might return for his senior season, but when he finally opted for the NFL it left a hole in the middle of the offensive line and a void in the locker room.

Lloyd Cushenberry III is expected to slide into Clapp’s former position as a third-year sophomore next season. Cushenberry, a tackle in high school, has yet to start a game, but showed his versatility last season as a backup at center and guard.

Outside linebacker

Arden Key was projected as an NFL first-round draft choice before injuries limited him as a junior last season. Still, he chose to leave school early and if he proves to be healthy in pre-draft workouts his draft stock should remain high.

Though Key wasn’t healthy for much of last season, when he was he was still one of the better defensive players in the SEC. Even when he was less than 100 percent but still suited up, he drew a lot of attention from opposing blockers.

Now that he’s gone for good, it’ll be up to rising sophomore K’Lavon Chaisson to provide athleticism and pass rushing from the defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid spot that Key occupied. Chaisson started three games last season and showed glimpses of Key-like ability, getting two sacks among his 4.5 tackles for loss.

Credit: Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

Ray Thornton, who also saw action in Key’s absence, could also be a factor at this spot.

Defensive end

Christian LaCouture was second on the team in tackles and tied for second in sacks, leaving a big void at end. The void is even bigger because the primary backup end last season, Frank Herron, also was a senior.

Breiden Fehoko, a transfer from Texas Tech, drew consistent praise from Orgeron for him work in practice last season and could have a big impact as LaCouture’s successor.

Travez Moore, the No. 1-ranked junior-college defensive end, also is a potential replacement for LaCouture, though his versatility could land him elsewhere in the front seven, even at Key’s spot, if he’s healthy.