Donte Jackson will return punts after all.
Jackson, the speedy track sprinter and two-year starting cornerback, will return punts for LSU this season, coach Ed Orgeron said in the most significant news he revealed during his first radio call-in show of the year.
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Jackson, a junior who rotated with Derrius Guice as LSU's kick returner last season, will handle punts this season. He returned seven kickoffs in 2016 for an average of 23.4 yards. He did not return a punt last season.
Orgeron did not reveal a starting kickoff returner, but he suggested a freshman could handle those duties, Baton Rouge native Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
"We feel like Clyde Edwards-Helaire is going to be a great kick returner for us," Orgeron said.
Receiver Drake Davis and freshman cornerback Jontre Kirklin had been working with Edwards-Helaire at kickoff return earlier during camp, Davis told reporters last week.
Several players had been rotating at punt returner, including receiver Derrick Dillon, Jackson, D.J. Chark and Kirkland.
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More nuggets from Orgeron's first radio call-in show
- This year's radio call-in show is fielding questions from fans on Twitter. One of them asked how the Tigers plan to keep defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. "Pay him a lot of money," the coach quipped. The school gave Aranda a raise and extension after last season. He makes $1.8 million a year.
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- Entering camp, Orgeron assumed offensive linemen Saahdiq Charles and Ed Ingram would redshirt. Then came camp. The two freshmen impressed the coach while competing with the No. 1 group while presumed starters missed time for injury. "Saahdiq Charles and Ed Ingram, I thought they were going to be redshirt guys," the coach said. "We threw them in the fire. I’m going to tell you what — they look like veterans out there."
- Incoming freshman nose tackle Tyler Shelvin arrived at what Orgeron jokingly called a "slim 364 pounds." Shelvin had dropped to about 325 pounds in the spring, Orgeron said in May. Shelvin is a partial NCAA qualifier. He can practice with the team but is ineligible to play in games. "We’ve got some work to do (with his weight)," Orgeron said. "He’s athletic. He’s going to lose about 30 pounds this year and be a heck of a football player."
- LSU is stacked in the secondary, so stacked that highly touted freshman from Plaquemine, Todd Harris, might not see any significant playing time on defense. But he will on special teams. "Todd is, right now, going to earn some playing time. He’s going to start for us on every special teams," Orgeron said.
- The battle for the starting place-kicker job remains open, Orgeron said. Connor Culp and walk-on Jack Gonslouin are competing. The duo is also battling for the kickoff specialist job, Orgeron said. Orgeron did not mention Cameron Gamble, LSU's kickoff guy last year.
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