LSU coach Ed Orgeron expects edge rusher Arden Key to play in the Citrus Bowl against Notre Dame, but he can’t be sure on that.
“I expect him to play,” Orgeron said Sunday on a bowl teleconference. “I can’t say that now (for sure). Been out on the road recruiting. As far as I know, he’s going to play.”
Orgeron said he'll have a more detailed report on Key when the 17th-ranked Tigers (9-3) begin bowl practice on Dec. 11. The junior All-American missed the last two games of the regular season after suffering a knee injury against Arkansas, and he underwent surgery for a broken finger last week.
Key played with a broken right pinky finger for the past two months, wearing a cast or bandage on the outside final two fingers on his right hand beginning against Auburn on Oct. 14. Surgery for the finger had been scheduled for after the regular season.
Key did not walk with the team down the Tiger Walk ahead of the 45-21 win over Texas A&M in the regular-season finale and was not spotted on the sideline during the game.
Several injured players were present at the game on the sideline, including tackle KJ Malone and safety Ed Paris. Afterward, Orgeron called Key "questionable." He repeated that answer when pressed about Key's status for the bowl game.
LSU accepted the Citrus Bowl's invitation Sunday afternoon for a matchup with No. 14 Notre Dame (9-3), a team that was ranked this season as high as No. 3.
Key's final hurrah in an LSU uniform could come at a site in which he thrived last year against Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville. Many expect Key to bolt after this season for the NFL draft. He's projected as a first-round pick, despite this season.
He missed the first two games of 2017 while recovering from May shoulder surgery, and it took until late October for him to round into game shape. He's got 4 sacks, 8 off of his school-record from last season.
Last week, Orgeron spoke about how some thought Key would sit out his junior season in preparation for the draft
"He says, 'Coach, I am going to get that shoulder fixed, I'm going to come back.' And his mama guaranteed me we're going to have a great season for the LSU Tigers," Orgeron said.
"And other people would think, well, I don't know, he's getting that shoulder operated, he's going in (the draft) and that was not the case. That was not his family. That was not his mindset."
LSU will play Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl. Here's more about the game and the Tigers' bowl history:
LSU commitments 'going to stick'
Most of LSU's 19 commitments should sign during the early period, Orgeron said Sunday, and he said he won't lose any of them.
"Looks like they’re all going to stick. Hopefully we can sign more of them Dec. 20, but you never can tell how it’s going to go," the coach said.
The early signing period makes its debut this year. Players are allowed to sign with programs over a 72-hour span starting Dec. 20.
The Tigers' class ranks 13th nationally and fifth in the Southeastern Conference, but the group is not complete yet. At least six more spots remain available, and they'll likely be filled by prospects who wait to sign during the traditional signing period Feb. 7, Orgeron said.
"Got a couple of guys we’re going to add, a couple of key guys that are No. 1 at their position in the country. We feel like we’ve got a great shot at them, but they’re not going to sign until the first weekend in February," Orgeron said. "It’s going to be a little white until we know how the finish of the class will be, but it looks like the start is pretty good."