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LSU defensive end Neil Farrell Jr. (92) beats his chest after a big stop in the first half between LSU and Clemson in the National Championship, Monday, January 13, 2020, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La.

LSU defensive lineman Neil Farrell, the first Tiger to choose to sit out the season because of the coronavirus pandemic, is back at the LSU facilities and plans on opting back into the season, coach Ed Orgeron told The Advocate.

The news was first reported by The Athletic.

Defensive coordinator Bo Pelini's four-man front is still missing its biggest piece, defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, who opted out at the end of August.

Orgeron said Shelvin is considering returning to the team, but it's uncertain whether the 6-foot-3, 346-pound junior will follow Farrell in his return back to the team.

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Farrell first announced his decision to leave the program on Twitter in early August. He said the virus had hit his family hard and that his grandmother was battling COVID-19 in the hospital.

Farrell provided an update on Twitter on Thursday that said, "My grandmother is getting better each and every day & I thank God for that ... I miss football."

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The Southeastern Conference announced in mid-July that players could sit out the 2020 season and still keep their scholarships — a motion that was recommended by the league's athletic directors and approved unanimously approved by the league's presidents and chancellors.

LSU is getting back a player who was expected to be a key rotation player, and, just under two weeks away from the team's season opener, the defense is boosting its depth at the right time.

The 6-foot-4, 319-pound Farrell was expected to compete for a starting position on a defensive line deep with talent. The senior led the defensive line with 46 tackles in 2019, adding seven tackles for loss and three sacks.

After suspended LSU defensive end Ray Parker was removed from the team's roster last week, the Tigers were left with only eight defensive linemen. 

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Orgeron said earlier this month that he considers the team's starting interior defensive linemen as Glen Logan, Apu Ika and Joseph Evans, who moved back to defense after spending the majority of the offseason at center and guard. Orgeron said true freshmen Jaquelin Roy and Jacobian Guillory would back those tackles up.

Depth on the LSU roster has been cut deeper beyond opt-outs.

Justin Thomas and TK McLendon, defensive ends whom Orgeron called starters in March, have both transferred.

Thomas has enrolled at UAB, a school official there confirmed. He will sit out the 2020 season because of transfer rules.

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Since then, Orgeron has said Andre Anthony and Travez Moore are the starting defensive ends, and he has spoken highly of true freshman BJ Ojulari — a player Orgeron said will one day be an All-American.

LSU's star wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase and starting nickel safety Kary Vincent are not expected to return after electing to opt out in order to prepare for the NFL draft.

Even when Farrell first decided he was sitting out the season, he announced that he intended to return in 2021.

"I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers from LSU and my supporters," he wrote then. "But my journey at LSU isn't finished yet."

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Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.