Eight months into his career at LSU, JaCoby Stevens has pulled off a tough act.
He’s played three positions.
Stevens, a mid-year enrollee who joined the team in January as a safety, has moved from receiver to the Tigers’ F-back position in offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s offense. It’s another attempt by coaches to find a consistent use for the athletic, smart freshman who arrived on campus as the top-ranked safety in the 2017 class.
Stevens made his debut at the hybrid position – it’s a mix of fullback and tight end primarily – during LSU’s 35-26 win over Syracuse last week. He caught a shovel pass, taking it 5 yards, and he ran passing routes, too.
“He adds a nice threat there,” said starting F-back JD Moore.
Christian LaCouture and the rest of LSU’s defensive linemen are used to it by now.
A month into the season, LSU’s F-back rotation is coming into view.
Moore is the versatile starter, a senior who handles all three duties of an F-back: blocking, running the ball at times and serving as a receiver in, normally, short and intermediate routes. Junior David Ducre appears to be the immediate backup to Moore, a versatile player who can do all three as well.
Two freshmen have entered the mix as of late: Stevens and a more run-blocking F-back in Tory Carter. The F-back position normally aligns in a wing spot, just off the line of scrimmage and off set from the tight end.
Stevens provides the position a more offensive threat than any other player in the rotation. He’s a guy who can create mismatches, as Canada might move him from out wide to inside, potentially catching the opponent in a defensive back-heavy defense.
“He gives us another little wrinkle there because he’s a receiver and so when we put him in there he’s capable of … we keep the other team’s three-wide defense out there,” Moore said. “JaCoby being a real big, physical kind of guy, we can run our run plays and have him go out in the alley or sneak out in the flat or run a route like we saw a few times on Saturday.”
Stevens’ move to receiver was made to boost a thin position group and provide him with more opportunities to play. He made one catch through the first three games.
In the spring, he joined a stacked secondary, and fellow mid-year enrollee Grant Delpit surpassed him in the DB pecking order.
LSU’s safety depth isn’t as it was in the spring, though. The 25th-ranked Tigers (3-1) lost senior rotational player Ed Paris for the season to a knee injury, and starter John Battle is banged up, too, though he’s expected to play this week’s game against Troy (3-1).
Stevens “could” move back to safety, Orgeron said, but coaches aren’t planning that just yet.
“Obviously, that would be an emergency, but we're not ready to go there yet,” he said.
Meanwhile, Stevens remains at F-back. The 6-2, 215-pounder practiced there Tuesday. And he’s not just a threat to catch passes or get handoffs.
“He’s just a physical player, big guy who’s not afraid to hit,” he said. “He’s capable of going out and blocking a nickleback or a DB or linebacker if he needs to.”