LSU Football: 5 most important returning players in 2020
LSU doesn’t have as many returning starters from its national championship team as it would like.
In fact only 3 offensive players and 5 defensive players who started the CFP Championship Game against Clemson will be back for the 2020 season.
And among those not returning are a bevy of stars such as Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Justin Jefferson, Lloyd Cushenberry III, Damien Lewis, Rashard Lawrence, Breiden Fehoko, Patrick Queen, K’Lavon Chaisson, Kristian Fulton and Grand Delpit.
Their absence and that of other key contributors who won’t be back make the few returning players – both starters and backups – all the more important in 2020.
Here are the Tigers’ 5 most important returning players in 2020:
No. 5 G Ed Ingram
LSU is going through a significant transition on the offensive line after losing 4 starters from last season. The lone returning starter is RT Austin Deculus and he’s an important player as well.
But Ingram, who returned from suspension during last season and played a lot as a backup, could be even more important. The Tigers lost all three interior starters and Ingram is a versatile leader.
He can bring stability to the interior of the line and his versatility gives head coach Ed Orgeron and line coach James Cregg options for finding the right combination with younger players.
No. 4 NT Tyler Shelvin
The defensive line was also being rebuilt even before coordinator Dave Aranda left and was replaced by Bo Pelini, who prefers a 4-3 scheme to Aranda’s 3-4.
Shelvin was a key performer on the line last season and his strength and play-making ability give Pelini and line coach Bill Johnson an important anchor around which to fit the remaining pieces to a new front that will feature newcomers in the rotation.
No. 3 WR Ja’Marr Chase
The departure of Jefferson and Edwards-Helaire removes 2 of the most dynamic playmakers from the offense, but the return of the Biletnikoff winner gives defenses plenty to worry about.
Terrace Marshall Jr. is also back at wide receiver, so defenses will be preoccupied by the 2 of them while younger, but very talented complementary receivers establish themselves.
Whichever running back or running backs assume Edwards-Helaire’s role will also be relatively inexperienced also, but they too will find it easier to assume a significant role while defenses are trying to slow down Chase.
No. 2 CB/RS Derek Stingley Jr.
Stingley was one of the most important players on the defense as a true freshman last season. He’ll be even more important as one of the more experienced defensive backs on next season’s defense.
His presence will lead to opponents picking on the other side, which could be manned by true freshman Elias Ricks, who will benefit from Stingley’s guidance. Stingley is also a dangerous punt returner, which further enhances his value once again.
No. 1 QB Myles Brennan
There’s no guarantee that Brennan will be Burrow’s successor, but it’s more likely that he will be than it is that someone else will be.
Maybe redshirt freshman Peter Parrish’s dual-threat skills will emerge in the spring and summer to such a degree that Orgeron and coordinator Steve Ensminger decide he has to play. But it’s more likely that Brennan finally gets his chance to start as a redshirt junior.
Maybe a graduate transfer falls into the Tigers’ lap in the next few months the way Burrow did two years ago. But it’s more likely that the current groups battles it out and Brenann emerges as the starter.
Even if a youngster such as Parrish or a dark-horse true freshman such as Max Johnson or T.J. Finley or a yet-to-be-identified graduate transfer were to sneak in and win the job, they will need to lean on Brennan’s experience and maturity to help guide them as they take over the most important position on the team.
But, again, it’s much more likely that Brennan assumes the role for which he has been groomed.
He has been on the team for three seasons. He has gotten stronger, smarter and more mature. The coaches trust him and so do the players.
Burrow was the leader of this team before his Heisman Trophy season even began. He earned it through the hard work and toughness he showed upon arrival and through his first season.
Brennan has put in the time, shown the patience and been a team player. He’s not going to be Burrow – and neither is anybody else.
But no one else can mitigate the loss of Burrow as well as Brennan can – and that’s why he’s the most important returning player.