Arden Key will return to the LSU football team Monday after taking a leave for personal reasons, and he'll have a newly mended shoulder, the school announced Sunday night.
Key, the All-America edge rusher and potential top-10 2018 NFL draft pick, has been away from the team since early February. He missed spring practice for "personal reasons," the school announced then.
Key's return to the team is not surprising. Coach Ed Orgeron said as recently as two weeks ago that Key was expected to rejoin the team when summer school begins Monday. He'll participate in summer workouts with the rest of the squad, including 16 signees and three transfers who arrived over the weekend.
Key, a native of Georgia, set LSU's single-season sack record last season with 12, serving as the Tigers' primary edge rusher in defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's group.
Key appeared to injure his shoulder in the loss at home Nov. 19 against Florida. He missed the Thanksgiving night win at Texas A&M while under suspension, Orgeron said, but Key was also battling the injury.
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Key's time away from the team has been shrouded in secrecy. The school asked the media to respect Key's wishes regarding his four-month departure.
“It was something he wanted to do, he needed to do,” Orgeron said of Key's leave of absence.
Key is an integral part of LSU's defense, a 6-foot-6 speedster who has gained about 20 pounds while away from the team — an offseason goal, he said after the Tigers' bowl game. He's up to about 255 pounds, Orgeron said last month.
Key earned first team All-Southeastern Conference honors. In 23 career games, he has 97 tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 17 sacks.
Coaches rave about Key, and he began flashing his skills early during his freshman season of 2015. Key uses a fiery and explosive first step to beat offensive tackles, often racing around them for a quarterback pressure or sack.
"What makes Arden unique is he can just run around somebody," Aranda said this spring. "I’ve never been around a player who can do that."