SEC Media Days: Grant Delpit

LSU strong safety Grant Delpit speaks at SEC media days in Hoover, Ala.

HOOVER, Ala. — Grant Delpit arrived at Southeastern Conference media days with a day-old haircut, a blue suit and an LSU pin on his lapel.

LSU's All-American safety says he's building his brand, and at least for now, it'll mirror the business professional look he presented when he represented LSU for the first time at the annual event in Hoover, Alabama.

Just what is Delpit's brand?

The player himself isn't certain.

Lloyd Cushenberry, LSU's starting center, said Delpit "obviously has the look," gesturing over at Delpit across the interview room inside the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-Wynfrey Hotel.

"He's the pretty boy," Cushenberry said. "That's his brand."


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Starting quarterback Joe Burrow added his thought: "Really, really good football player."

"He's going to make a lot of money playing football," Burrow said.

See, SEC media days is what got Delpit thinking about "the brand."

A few weeks ago, Delpit, Burrow and Cushenberry were invited to meet with Dr. Thomas Karam, a professor in the LSU business school's marketing department.

"Your brand is your everything," Karam told them, Delpit said. "Your brand is where you make your money. Your brand is how other people view you."

It was solid advice, Delpit said, but it begged a question: "So what's this media training for?"

That's when the LSU staff told him: We're sending you to SEC media days.

The 6-foot-3, 203-pound junior has come a long way in one year.

Last July, Delpit was a relatively unknown defensive back who was coming off a broken collarbone he suffered in spring camp — an experienced sophomore who his teammates nicknamed 'Baby Mal' for his flashes of former LSU safety Jamal Adams.

'Baby Mal' is long and gone as a nickname, Delpit said Monday. It faded into the background while Delpit made his own name in 2018 by intercepting both Auburn and Ole Miss on the second play of the game.

"I think I earned my own name," said Delpit, who ranked third on the team with 74 total tackles in 2018. 

As Delpit was surrounded by reporters following that Ole Miss game, former All-American linebacker Devin White shouted "Grant Delpit for Heisman!"

Delpit became one of LSU's top playmakers, sniffing out a fake field goal early in a 36-16 win over Georgia, eventually leading the Tigers with five interceptions and tying the team lead with five sacks, and being named a finalist for the Nagurski Award, annually given to the nation's top defender.

By spring football, Delpit had another accolade to add to "the brand": wearing LSU's coveted No. 7 jersey, which has been worn by top playmakers like former defensive backs Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and former running back Leonard Fournette.

Delpit is the first defensive back to represent LSU at SEC media days since former cornerback Tre'Davious White attended the event in 2016.

With Devin White leaving early for the NFL, Delpit became the face of the LSU defense, one of the most nationally recognized players at a program that boasts itself as "Defensive Back University."

Delpit became one of the defense's most versatile players under LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who ranged Delpit all over the field in the "quarters" position for most of the season — a defensive back spot that Aranda called "a glorified linebacker," which can drop back in pass coverage or drop down in the box to blitz and defend the run.

JaCoby Stevens, a junior safety, started at the quarters position in the final four games of the season, and Delpit said Aranda will likely have "something new" in store for him in 2019.

"I don't really know (my specific role) at this moment," Delpit said. "As the camp starts going on and we start opening up the defense more, we'll find out."

Delpit is a key to LSU's rise back into national contention. Ed Orgeron called him "the best player in the country," during his opening remarks at the podium Monday.

The Tigers, which were picked to finish fifth in the SEC West at last year's media days, will likely be ranked a Top 10 team entering 2019 and will be expected to challenge Alabama for the western division title.

"You can't really pay attention to all that now," Delpit said. "Everybody knows about me. Everybody knows about us, and everybody's predicting us to do well in the season. We just stay to us. We just do us, because I wasn't worried about it last year, and I'm sure not worried about it this year."

Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.