Travonte Valentine has, indeed, rejoined the LSU football team, but he has not met academic requirements to play this season — at least not yet.
Valentine, the top-ranked junior college defensive tackle in 2016, has been admitted to school and cleared to practice, LSU spokesman Michael Bonnette confirmed to The Advocate on Tuesday.
But the 6-foot-3, 345-pound Valentine needs to complete one course during LSU’s summer intersession to become eligible for the season, multiple sources told The Advocate. The summer intersession began Monday and runs through Aug. 20.
Bonnette could only confirm that Valentine has rejoined the team and has been cleared to practice. He had no further information on his eligibility for the season.
Valentine attended a team meeting Monday, a source said, apologizing to fellow players for behavior that resulted in his dismissal from the squad last summer. When he'll take the practice field is unclear, but Valentine cannot immediately practice in full pads. He must complete the NCAA-mandated acclimation period — four days of practice — before he can don full gear on the fifth day.
Valentine, wearing No. 55 for LSU, signed with LSU out of Champagnat Catholic in Hialeah, Florida, in 2014 as the third-ranked defensive tackle prospect in the nation. The Southeastern Conference never ruled him eligible as a freshman, but he practiced with the team in the fall of 2014. Coach Les Miles suspended him for 2015 spring practice before booting him from the team for a “violation of rules.”
He spent the spring and summer at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College qualifying academically after a brief stop in Yuma, Arizona, at Arizona Western, a junior college football powerhouse. He was dismissed from Arizona Western following an arrest after playing in just six games last fall.
On Oct. 15, 2015, Valentine was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, according to court records obtained by The Advocate. The court dismissed the charge a month later. The arrest stemmed from a physical altercation.
On Saturday afternoon, Christian LaCouture spoke to a group of reporters about his intense s…
Valentine has three years of eligibility remaining, but he'll be eligible for the NFL draft in the spring. He’s expected to contribute greatly in new coordinator Dave Aranda’s 3-4 scheme, especially with the injury to presumed starting defensive end Christian LaCouture. LaCouture tore his anterior cruciate ligament during a practice Sunday and is out for the season.
The most likely scenario is that coaches move nose tackle Davon Godchaux to end to replace LaCouture, leaving defensive line coach Ed Orgeron several big, but inexperienced, options at nose. The list includes Valentine, freshman Ed Alexander and redshirt junior Greg Gilmore.
Little is known publicly about Valentine’s readiness. He’s never been seen in an LSU uniform. He could not even dress out for games as a freshman in 2014, and LSU practices are closed to reporters.
Valentine played in Arizona Western’s first six games last season, registering 11 tackles and two sacks.
Valentine was not obligated to meet the normal requirements for a junior college transfer because he’s returning to his original school, according to NCAA rules. The Miami native said he also had offers from Auburn and Mississippi State, but he would not be eligible to play at another Division I school this fall, aside from his original school, LSU.