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LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. (11) celebrates with LSU wide receiver Deion Smith (6) after Smith scored in the first half against Central Michigan, Saturday, September 18, 2021, at Tiger Stadium on the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge, La.

It’s no secret that the LSU football team has a deep and talented receiving corps.

The Tigers showed just how deep in a 49-21 blasting of Central Michigan on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.

With the offense missing starter Trey Palmer, LSU coach Ed Orgeron and offensive coordinator Jake Peetz started three true freshmen along with sophomore Kayshon Boutte against CMU.

While Boutte had a quiet night by his standards, the three freshmen — wide receivers Deion Smith, Jack Bech and Brian Thomas Jr. — came up big.

They combined to make 12 catches for 266 yards and had three touchdowns. Eleven of their 12 receptions produced first downs.

Boutte had a 2-yard TD from Max Johnson among his six catches for 44 yards, but the freshmen trio turned heads as Johnson was 26-of-35 for 372 yards and five scores.

With Palmer dressed in sweats and fellow starter Jaray Jenkins playing sparingly, Orgeron had no qualms about going early and often to the three freshmen who had combined for two starts going into the game.

“I thought we would be able to throw the football tonight,” Orgeron said. “I’ve seen these guys make tremendous plays in practice.

“It was good. … It was fun to see them do it in Tiger Stadium. I see them do it all the time in practice, and they finally got their chance.”

After last week’s win over McNeese State, Orgeron wanted to add more juice to his struggling offense.

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Smith, Bech and Thomas were the primary beneficiaries as the Tigers piled up a season-high 484 total yards — with 400 coming through the air.

“We made some improvement tonight,” Orgeron said. “I was very pleased with the play of our young receivers. We got to see what we’ve been seeing in practice with Deion Smith.”

Smith, the top player in the state of Mississippi last season, missed some practice time in preseason camp and wasn’t available for the season-opening loss to UCLA.

But the 6-foot-3, 198-pounder had the biggest night after catching two passes for 13 yards in his collegiate debut against McNeese State.

He had 135 yards on five receptions against CMU and got his team's first two offensive touchdowns on passes of 28 and 40 yards from Johnson in the first quarter.

Bech also caught five passes for 81 yards and a 20-yard touchdown after having just five receptions for 74 yards in the first two games.

Thomas, who had one reception for 18 yards in the first two games, finished with two catches for 50 yards. His 41-yarder set up Bech’s second-quarter touchdown.

Johnson said putting Boutte in the slot helped the youngsters.

“Putting Kayshon in the slot allowed us to open some other things for the other receivers like Deion and B.T.,” he said. “Putting them in space and trying to get them the ball was what we were trying to do.”

All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. was certainly impressed after going against them in practice.

“It was good to see all the young bucks flying around making plays,” he said. “We see them doing it in practice, so it was fun to see in a game.”

Email Sheldon Mickles at smickles@theadvocate.com