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As LSU linebacker Micah Baskerville (23) signals number 1, LSU defensive end Andre Anthony (3) runs a fumble recovery back for a score during the first half at Tiger Stadium Saturday Sept. 18, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La.

LSU defensive end Andre Anthony has a season-ending injury, coach Ed Orgeron said Monday. Orgeron didn't disclose the nature of the injury.

"It's sad news," Orgeron said. "It really is. He's having a good season. He's going to be unavailable this season, but he's going to be with us. He's going to deal with it. What the next step is for him, we're going to find out."

Anthony, a sixth-year senior, injured his left knee late in the second quarter Saturday night against Central Michigan. As he rushed the passer, Anthony planted his left leg and quickly dropped to the ground. There was no contact.

After athletic trainers examined Anthony's left knee on the field, he stood up with help and gingerly walked to the sideline. Anthony grimaced as he stepped. He went to the locker room and didn't return.

"Thank you to everyone who has reached out, I really appreciate all the love and support," Anthony wrote Sunday on Twitter. "Please keep me in your prayers. It’s in God's hands, praying and hoping for the best."

One of LSU's most experienced players, Anthony arrived in 2016 as a four-star recruit from Edna Karr High School. But he didn't play for two years.

First, the NCAA ruled Anthony ineligible his freshman season because it questioned courses he took during three semesters at Miller-McCoy Academy, which shut down in 2015. Then he suffered an ankle injury that required surgery as a redshirt freshman. 

Anthony spent the next two years as a backup. He finally played on a consistent basis last season as he transitioned from outside linebacker to defensive end in LSU's new 4-3 scheme. He led the team with 5 1/2 sacks during the shortened, 10-game schedule.

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This year, Anthony had four tackles for loss and 3 1/2 sacks. Before his injury, he returned a fumble for a touchdown against Central Michigan, becoming the second player in LSU history to do so since at least 1946. Anthony is also a captain and member of the team's leadership council.

Anthony's injury will remove one of the best players from a defense that leads the country in sacks (17) and tackles for loss (40). Without him, Orgeron said LSU will rotate sophomore BJ Ojulari, senior Ali Gaye and freshman Maason Smith at defensive end.

Smith primarily played defensive tackle the first two games, but he shifted to defensive end in the second half after Anthony's injury. He had 3 1/2 tackles for loss and three sacks against McNeese State.

"If you look at a prototypical left defensive end in the NFL, he’s a left defensive end," Orgeron said. "That’s where most of the runs go to, and you want a big defensive end to play over a tight end.

"He’s very athletic to play in space. I think he has a chance to be a dominant football player there. He shows some things that are very dominant. He’s a great inside rusher. He’s learning how to play outside. I think he’s just scratching the surface."

Redshirt sophomore Desmond Little and redshirt junior Jarell Cherry also played in the second half of Saturday's 49-21 win, but they're unlikely to contribute much as Gaye will return this weekend against Mississippi State, Orgeron said, after a two-game absence.

The Tigers may also get back senior defensive tackle Glen Logan soon. Logan, who has experience at defensive end, ran last Thursday for the first time since he broke his right foot during preseason practice. At the time, Orgeron guessed Logan might return in two or three weeks.

LSU has touted its depth along the defensive line since preseason camp. But Anthony's injury will sting, both for a defense still trying to prove itself and the player who waited so long to get his chance.

"Let me say this about Andre Anthony: What an outstanding Tiger," Orgeron said. "What an outstanding leader. Andre has been with me since the beginning here. We absolutely love him."

Email Wilson Alexander at walexander@theadvocate.com