One of the messages coming out of LSU's annual Media Day on Tuesday is that several true freshmen have an opportunity to contribute right away.
Linebacker is the area of the team likely to feature the greatest influx from the freshman class. Kevin Minter will start at middle linebacker and Tahj Jones and Lamin Barrow the likely starters on the outside with Luke Muncie being the primary veteran backup. After that it's wide open and the Tigers have a slew a freshman linebackers who appear ready, willing and able to fill the void.
"Beyond those four, we won't have a guy that has taken a snap," defensive coordinator/linebackers coach John Chavis said. "There will be young people at linebacker that will have an opportunity to play and play often. I would say there will probably be four freshmen that will be able to take the field and be productive for us."
Those four are Deion Jones, a 17-year-old that Chavis said "is still a puppy," Kwon Alexander, "a very talented guy", Lamar Louis, who "benefited from being in spring practice" and Lorenzo Phillips, "a guy that is very talented."
"We are going to be able to provide some outstanding depth," Chavis said. "We are going to need some time with the young guys to get them mature."
Chavis likened this year's freshman recruits to the defensive backs who came in three years ago, most notably Tyrann Mathieu, Eric Reid and Tharold Simon.
He also mentioned safety Corey Thompson and Jalen Mills as two defensive backs who "have really caught our attention."
Head coach Les Miles named freshman wide receivers Travin Dural and Kavahra Holmes as other newcomers to watch.
My three sons
Football has long been a family affair for the Kragthorpes. Steve, LSU's quarterbacks coach, once coached under his father Dave when he was head coach at Oregon State.
Now for the first time, Steve Kragthorpe has all three of his sons essentially on the same campus. Oldest son Chris is a defensive graduate assistant, middle son Brad transferred in this year as a quarterback from Idaho State (which Dave Kragthorpe coached to the 1981 I-AA title), and youngest son Nik is the starting quarterback at University High.
"It's fun having Brad here and Chris as a G.A. and Nick across the street at U-High," said Kragthorpe, who said he hadn't coached one of his sons in anything since Little League. "It makes mom (Steve's wife Cynthia) happy to have all three of them back in the fold."
Chavis praises Johnson
Chavis said sophomore defensive tackle Anthony Johnson has made significant progress since last season.
"He is a very talented guy," Chavis said. "He looks like a totally different guy. A lot of times, we look at the end result. We don't remember the process. He has gone through an offseason program. Anthony is probably in the best condition he has ever been in. He is playing harder right now than he has ever played. He is doing the things (defensive line) coach (Brick) Haley is asking him to do. When you put those things together with the amount of talent that he has, Anthony has the opportunity to be an outstanding player. "
Porter being groomed
Offensive coordinator/line coach Greg Studrawa said sophomore center Elliott Porter will play a lot of snaps this season on what he called the deepest line in his six seasons with the Tigers.
LSU is grooming Porter as the successor to senior center P.J. Lonergan next season.
Rotating two, three or four
The Tigers rotated four running backs - Spencer Ware, Michael Ford, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard - last season and could do the same this year, but Miles is looking at his options.
"Here's how I want to get this to work," he said. "I'd like to start with two guys and keep a third guy fresh for late in the game. Those two guys will be able to do the lion's share of the work, and we'll keep a really quality back to have fresh legs. So I'd like to start with two, but I could end up with four very comfortably."
Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.
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