Dave Aranda doesn’t need a massive, quick-footed, 340-pound nose tackle in his defense, he says.
But it sure would be nice.
“You want someone that’s not necessarily just big but someone that has movement skills and has got some size to him,” Aranda said Tuesday after speaking at the LHSCA coaches convention. “We’re going to have those guys. It’s just a matter of identifying them.”
Aranda and staff are searching for a big — and fast — guy in the middle, a plug for the center of his new 3-4 defense, someone to rotate with presumed starter Davon Godchaux. The first-year coordinator said he has options, and at least a few are freshmen.
Edwin Alexander, a 330-pounder out of St. Thomas Aquinas, and 310-pound Rashard Lawrence, one of the 2016 class’ top additions, are in the mix. Alexander, one of just two signees who has not been cleared to enroll, received a qualifying score on his ACT earlier this month but still must be cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse. Lawrence is beginning his career at defensive end, Aranda said, but position moves are possible.
“I think we’re still trying to find answers inside. The ability that Godchaux brought us to play inside was real exciting,” Aranda said. “I think there’s times we’re going to want Godchaux on edges as well. So who comes in? Who does that? That’s where I think there’s some room for some of these younger guys, but I think there’s time for that to play out.”
Frank Herron and Christian LaCouture could play some nose tackle as well. Alexander is bigger than all of them.
“It depends (on) if he moves really well,” Aranda said. “I think Ed will.”
Former LSU defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, a 340-pounder, is attempting to academically qualify this summer in a potential return to LSU in August. Dismissed a year ago, Valentine could plug into Aranda’s defense at nose tackle, which would be a quick — and talented — fix for a defense that returned nine starters.
LSU’s primary recruiting target this summer hasn’t necessarily been a 2017 prospect.
After spending the past three seasons at Wisconsin, Aranda knows the Badgers inside and out. That doesn’t mean he’s ignoring the film of his old team.
“We’re watching a lot of their film. I have a lot of respect for coach (Paul) Chryst and coach (Barry) Alvarez, for the players there specifically,” Aranda said. “It’s going to be a big challenge, especially with us coming out the gate. The ability for us to know what’s being asked of us and the ability for me to not put too much on their plate, is a key.”
Aranda is expecting surprises from the Badgers. Wisconsin whipped out some shockers two years ago in a season-opening loss to LSU, he suggested.
“There’s things when we played them that we didn’t see and things they’d bring out for games,” Aranda said. “Coach Chryst is one of the better playcallers out there.”
LSU will “take over” the SEC Network on Thursday.
Each summer, the network gives virtually an entire day of programming to each of the Southeastern Conference's 14 schools. LSU’s takeover will include reairing of games such as LSU’s 2004 Sugar Bowl victory over Oklahoma for the BCS title, its 2008 BCS championship game victory over Ohio State and the 1990 LSU-Loyola Marymount basketball game.
The takeover begins at 11 p.m. Wednesday.