LSU’s depth at inside linebacker is a concern that coach Ed Orgeron began mending during this recruiting cycle.
Orgeron and staff signed three inside linebackers, including two of the country’s top 12 prospects at that position. But they'll have to manage spring practice with mostly walk-ons.
Rising seniors Donnie Alexander and Devin Voorhies, two of the program’s three inside linebackers on scholarship, will be limited in their availability this spring after each is expected to undergo offseason shoulder procedures, multiple sources told The Advocate.
The pair could miss a significant amount of spring drills, leading to increased roles for walk-ons like Jonathan Rucker and Layton Garnett and the only other scholarship inside linebacker, Devin White. White, a rising sophomore, is a favorite to occupy one of defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s two starting inside linebacker spots, Mack (middle) and Rover (weakside).
The Tigers lost starting inside linebackers Duke Riley and Kendell Beckwith from last season’s team, a potentially serious issue because of a long-standing depth problem at the spot. One could make the case that LSU has signed just one inside linebacker in the previous three classes, 2014-16: Clifton Garrett, an Illinois native who transferred after his freshman season.
White signed as a running back before moving positions, and Voorhies signed as a safety before his position move after his first season. Alexander signed as a 200-pound outside linebacker.
Aranda is used to this problem, but he hopes to avoid it in the future.
“We were talking a couple of times, ‘I hope we’re not in this situation again,’” Aranda said in a previous interview regarding the linebacker depth problems. “We were in this situation my first year at Wisconsin. I remember that spring playing with a bunch of walk-ons. Spent a lot of time teaching, lost my voice. Freshmen came in the fall. Had a redshirt freshman and true freshman starting. We’ve done it before.”
Inside linebacker signees Jacob Phillips and Tyler Taylor are set to arrive this summer, along with inside/outside linebacker Patrick Queen, a Livonia product and recent signee. Phillips is ranked as the top inside linebacker in the 2017 class. Taylor is ranked as the 11th.
Taylor and Phillips are expected to contend with White, Alexander and Voorhies during preseason camp for a spot in the rotation.
“No question we (signed) guys that can come in and play early,” Orgeron said about the linebackers. “All these guys will be with us in June. Dave is going to put them in football school very early in June. Those guys will be studying their playbook and getting in good shape, but we think they will be physically ready to go.”
Guard Will Clapp is expected to be limited this spring as well after undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, an injury he played with during the 2016 season.
Ed Orgeron is closing in on filling two openings on his staff.
Report: LSU gets visit from ex-Clemson OT
Jake Fruhmorgen, a starting right tackle at Clemson who is on the hunt for transfer destinations, is visiting LSU this week, 247Sports.com reported Monday.
Fruhmorgen, a 6-foot-5, 290-pounder originally from Florida, started the first eight games of the Tigers’ run to the national championship in 2016. A shoulder injury ended his season. Clemson announced later in the year that Fruhmorgen was dealing with “personal issues” and was no longer with the team, according to The State newspaper.
Fruhmorgen announced in January that he would seek a transfer, and LSU is a viable landing spot for a player who left high school in 2015 as the 16th-ranked offensive tackle in the class. He played in the U.S. Army All-American Game, a high school all-star event.
LSU did not sign a full class of prospects last week, leaving room for players like Fruhmorgen to join the 2017 group. Orgeron suggested as much on national signing day Wednesday.
“We are looking for a couple of guys that are going to be eligible,” the coach said. “We may sign a guy in a week or two and also, if we don't use those (spots), that adds to next year's class. Gives us flexibility.”
Fruhmorgen would have to sit out the 2017 season because of NCAA transfer rules. He’d be eligible in 2018 as a fourth-year junior.