This is a countdown to LSU's preseason camp, which begins Thursday. We're asking and answering a question each weekday until drills begin:
Question: What freshmen will make the biggest and quickest impact?
Parties involved: Saivion Smith, Devin White, Dee Anderson, Sci Martin, Edwin Alexander, Connor Culp, Rashard Lawrence
The scoop: In Les Miles' 11 seasons as coach at LSU, he's played 113 true freshmen, and 39 of them started at least once during their true freshman season.
That bodes well for the Tigers' third-ranked 2016 signing class - a group that includes at least a half-dozen players who could work their way into a starting spot this year. Do we expect all of the seven above players to start at least a game in 2016? No. But that doesn't mean a majority of that group won't play significant roles - whether that's as a rotating player on the defensive line or a defensive back in a dime set defensively.
White, the North Webster product, might have the most opportunity of any rookie to see early playing time. Coach Les Miles suggested it several times during spring practice, and, at one point, White practiced with the starting group at inside linebacker with Kendell Beckwith out with injury and Duke Riley working with the outside linebackers.
It's clear that White has secured himself as a key special teams player and, potentially, an immediate backup at inside linebacker.
During the spring game, Smith started at cornerback with the first string in the nickel package. Yes, LSU was missing two cornerbacks and two more safeties during the game, but, still, Smith could see time in a rotating role in LSU's nickel or dime packages.
Martin, Alexander and Lawrence were all highly rated guys who could see time in LSU's rotating defensive front. New defensive coordinator Dave Aranda suggested this summer that he expects several young defensive linemen to have an opportunity in his new 3-4 scheme.
Anderson, a 6-foot-5, 200-pounder, made the spring game's best catch, leaping into the air in a full extension to haul in Danny Etling's pass.
Does that mean he'll start? No. Does it mean he'll be a top 3-4 receiver? Not necessarily, but Anderson, participating with the second string in the spring game, has the size and athleticism to make an instant impact.
Finally, to the kicker. Culp, rated as ninth-best kicker in the 2016 class, has the opportunity of a lifetime. Trent Domingue, a guy on the Lou Groza watch list, transferred to Texas after his scholarship was not renewed, and Colby Delahoussaye's status is uncertain after a fiery car crash in Wisconsin.
This is a countdown to LSU's preseason camp, which begins Aug. 4. We're asking and answering…
Our prediction: One of those three aforementioned freshman defensive lineman emerges, by mid-season, as a serious contender for a starting role and plays a significant amount in Aranda's scheme.
White ends up starting a handful of games at inside linebacker, and Smith is in LSU's dime (six defensive backs) package.
- Thursday: Who starts at left tackle?
- Friday: Who starts at nose tackle?
- Monday: Who plays cornerback when Tre White is at nickel?
- Tuesday: What freshmen will make the biggest and quickest impact?
- Wednesday: How will the offense change?