Georgia Southern LSU Football

LSU nose tackle Tyler Shelvin (72) tackles Georgia Southern running back Matt LaRoche (5) at the line of scrimmage in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Democker)

Perhaps you were there, unfurling your napkin, biting into a bread roll in that Baton Rouge rotary club meeting inside Tiger Stadium, when LSU coach Ed Orgeron mentioned the name "Glenn Dorsey."

Perhaps you've watched the player himself who drew the comparison. Maybe at Northside High. Maybe at Notre Dame in Lafayette. The defensive lineman who became the top recruit in Louisiana and signed with his home-state team.

For Tyler Shelvin, expectations were already high, and they certainly got a big nudge with a reference to Dorsey, the most decorated player in LSU history, the only Tiger to win the Lombardi Award, the Lott IMPACT Trophy, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy or the Outland Trophy.

"I'm not going to tell you he's there yet," Orgeron said during that rotary meeting in August 2018. "Tyler has flashes of Dorsey. He's the first one I've seen that has that talent, that quickness, that pad level. He's not there yet."

An unspoken question naturally followed: When will Shelvin be there?

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The answer required patience for everyone involved.

Patience for Shelvin, until an opportunity on the field opened up. Patience for the LSU coaching staff until their star lineman dropped weight, gained muscle and molded into the monstrous athlete he could be. Patience for the Tiger fans who watched Shelvin steadily gain experience during the six games he played as a redshirt freshman in 2018, then win a highly contested battle for the starting job in 2019.

Now it seems the time has arrived on a predestined schedule — when No. 5 LSU (5-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) needs to win in the trenches most, when the Tigers face No. 7 Florida (6-0, 3-0) on Saturday in Tiger Stadium.

For Orgeron, Dorsey's name is no longer mentioned in association with his starting nose tackle.

There's no need. The sophomore is starting to make his own name.

"Tyler Shelvin is playing his best football right now," Orgeron said Monday.

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Shelvin's statistics — 16 tackles, one tackle for loss — don't show his true impact, Orgeron said. He's causing double teams. Forcing leverage on the line of scrimmage in favor of the defense. Getting off blocks to hurry opposing quarterbacks.

His awareness and communication on the field have improved.

LSU defensive end Breiden Fehoko said he can hear Shelvin from down the line of scrimmage, calling out signals to aid the Tigers defense:

Split zone! Split zone! — (The offense's cut-off block is coming your way).

Rally! Rally! — (There's a tight end coming to block you).

"It's his second year playing," Fehoko reminded reporters Monday evening. "To see that energy and to see the growth behind him? It's so awesome. So awesome."

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LSU starting center Lloyd Cushenberry said he started noticing Shelvin's development in the spring. The two battled one-on-one every day in practice behind the scenes, while sports pundits and patrons wondered whether Shelvin was going to beat out true freshman Siaki "Apu" Ika for the starting job.

Perhaps Ika's competition was the catalyst.

Orgeron certainly credited it.

"Let me say this to you: I think (Shelvin) had an excellent spring," Orgeron said after LSU's spring game. "When he was moved down to second team, he was motivated."

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The battle between Shelvin and Ika continued into summer workouts with strength coach Tommy Moffitt, into the routine updates on the scale showing which player was trimming down to the type of nose tackle who could play the high volume of snaps the LSU defense would require because of its new, high-paced offense.

Orgeron said the 6-foot-3 Shelvin weighed 380 pounds when he arrived on campus in 2017. He's down to 346.

Orgeron, a former defensive lineman himself, regularly gave updates on his two tackles' progress, light-heartedly saying at one point that Shelvin was at a "slim 343."

Was Shelvin sensitive for such a development to be so public?

"Nah, Tyler don't care," LSU pass rusher K'Lavon Chaisson said. "Tyler walks around here with his shirt off with no problems. He'll belly roll all day. He's not sensitive about it. He loves his size."

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No one had any questions about Shelvin's athletic ability.

Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook, a former offensive coordinator at UL, remembers seeing Shelvin compete in a dodgeball tournament when he first transferred from Northside as a junior.

"I watched people try and hit him, and he'd make them miss and swivel his hips," Cook said. "And I'm like 'Gah-lee!' "

Cook walked up to Shelvin and told him: God took care of you. We'll take care of the rest.

In the summer of 2017, Shelvin posted a video of himself doing a standing backflip into the water from the edge of a pool.

"For a big guy that weighs that much, he's pretty light on his feet," Chaisson said. "He can jump, dance. He tried to come to the rec (center) and play basketball. ... He's like a twinkle toes. He's a very athletic, big guy. It's a scary thing."

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Now that Shelvin's slimmed down to playing shape, LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda can use him to create favorable one-on-one matchups for other defenders — something he calls "simulated pressure" that opens up easy paths to the opponent's backfield.

Shelvin has the energy and endurance to take on double teams or stunt to one side of the center throughout the majority of the game to create a one-on-one on the edge for Chaisson, or to match up linebacker Patrick Queen with a weaker blocker.

"You get totally different matchups," Fehoko said. "You get a total brute-force bully in the middle now. Now, you can create power in the middle and allow your guys with speed to work off the edges."

LSU will have to use its pressure to match Florida's aggressive defense, an attack that ranks among the nation's top 15 programs in both sacks (26) and tackles for loss (44).

And Shelvin will be there.

"I think he's become a complete player," Orgeron said.

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Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.