Now that linebacker Kevin Minter is hocking his wares to ogling NFL scouts, LSU’s Lamin Barrow no longer is a loosely defined company man.
Barrow’s reputation is no longer a headhunting freshman, although former West Virginia star Noel Devine might still be smarting from that shot laid down in a 2010 meeting.
Biding his time behind Ryan Baker for two seasons and watching Minter replace Kelvin Sheppard imparted a pragmatic patience to the Marrero native in his final spring working through drills.
After he racked up 104 tackles last season, the idea of Barrow sliding over from the weakside linebacker spot into Minter’s old abode in the middle might be presumed. Not for Barrow, who Monday smoothly deferred to junior D.J. Welter as the prime heir.
“D.J. is having a hell of a spring right now,” Barrow said. “As long as he keeps progressing, nobody is going to beat him.”
A company man isn’t fashioned to assuage angst of a fan base with a slew of questions about how LSU will recover after losing 11 underclassmen to the NFL draft, especially mainstays Minter, Barkevious Mingo, Bennie Logan, Sam Montgomery and Eric Reid.
That Barrow arrived in the same recruiting class as Minter and Mingo might serve to highlight a disparity in ability that is narrower than perceived.
Altering the perception can’t happen in the spring or be tweaked in the fall. Until then, Welter and Barrow follow a routine that, ideally, would assuage fans’ worry by positioning themselves for a solid season.
“After the scrimmage, he asked me when I was going to watch film,” Barrow said. “He was right there. If he’s not in there more than me, it’s not anybody else. Hats off to him for becoming a student of the game.”
Only solid performances at Georgia and Alabama and in Tiger Stadium against Texas A&M and Florida can alter that perception — no matter where Barrow lines up.
“It’s just about being a veteran, being a leader,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m on the inside or outside. I’ve just go to assume the role.”
Barrow’s insight is subtle but key. Missing a season has sharpened Welter’s focus, while Barrow is affable enough as the Tigers’ elder statesmen.
“He has a tenacity about him that you can feel playing next to him,” Barrow said.
That’s not to say concerns with whether LSU has capable replacements isn’t warranted. There’s just little in the way of evidence to make a valid argument.
Team periods in practice are closed, as are scrimmages until the spring game April 20. Gleaning insight from position drills is hit or miss — or outright inference. None of it is certainty.
That’s a feeling unfamiliar to Barrow.
“It’s approaching every day like you can be jumped, you can lose your spot,” Barrow said. “I’ve never sat back on my heels and felt like I’m comfortable.”