LSU Football: Projecting Post-Spring 2-Deep Depth Chart
LSU's depth will be put to the test next season.
The Tigers have lost 17 players with eligibility remaining to the NFL draft over the past two seasons. It has become a yearly chore for Les Miles to put together a roster.
Yet he will not receive pity from other coaches and media across the country. He has a plethora of potential playmakers, most of whom hail from his own backyard in Louisiana.
LSU does not release an official depth chart after spring ball, but here is a preview of what it could look like for the season opener against Wisconsin.
- Brandon Harris
- Anthony Jennings
Freshman Brandon Harris has the slight edge over Anthony Jennings based solely on the freshman's performance in the spring game. But the quarterback battle is far from over, and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and Les Miles are in no rush to name a starter.
Harris combined for four touchdowns and showed amazing accuracy and pocket awareness for a quarterback in his LSU infancy. Jennings, who entered spring as the starter, threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.
- Terrence Magee
- Kenny Hilliard
- Leonard Fournette
LSU lost a formidable force at running back in Jeremy Hill. But two experienced backups, Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard, will look to take over the load next season.
Leonard Fournette is LSU's most highly touted recruit in the Les Miles era. He will certainly see carries in the season opener against Wisconsin. Most believe he will take over the starter's role at some point next season.
- Travin Dural, Quantavius Leslie, John Diarse
- Malachi Dupre, Rob Bolden, Avery Peterson
Wide Receiver (If LSU starts in 3-WR set)
Travin Dural showed drastic improvement in the spring game, catching five passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Dural, the most experienced returnee at receiver, will enter fall as the No. 1 option.
John Diarse began spring as the No. 2 receiver, but his nagging injuries made things tough on the redshirt freshman. Senior Quantavius Leslie took full advantage of the opportunity.
Expect 5-star incoming freshman Malachi Dupre to eventually crack the starting lineup, possibly for the season opener against Wisconsin. Redshirt freshman Avery Peterson and senior Rob Bolden should be in the mix as well.
The wild card is 4-star freshman Trey Quinn, who could arguably be the fastest receiver on the roster. He will get an opportunity to earn playing time this fall.
- Connor Neighbors
- Melvin Jones
LSU returns experienced Connor Neighbors at fullback, who was granted a fifth year of eligibility this offseason, according to Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune. Neighbors can do everything asked of a fullback. He is one of the better blockers at any position in the SEC.
Melvin Jones moved from linebacker to fullback last season, playing in nine games. He shows some promise as a short-yardage ball-carrier next season.
- Dillon Gordon, DeSean Smith
- Logan Stokes, Travis Dickson
Tight End (2-TE formation)
LSU will look for sophomore DeSean Smith to be the receiving threat at the tight end that the Tigers desperately need. If LSU runs two-tight end formations, expect Smith to be paired with Dillon Gordon, the Tigers' best blocking tight end.
If LSU wants to run the ball exclusively, Smith will be replaced by Stokes due to his fantastic blocking skills. Senior Travis Dickson and incoming freshman Jacory Washington will also be in the mix for playing time.
- La'el Collins
- Josh Boutte
- Vadal Alexander
- Jonah Austin
- Elliott Porter
- Ethan Pocic
- Hoko Fanaika
- Evan Washington
- Jerald Hawkins
- Andy Dodd
LSU's offensive line returns four of its five starters next season. The lone position up for grabs is right guard, which has featured a fierce battle between seniors Hoko Fanaika and Evan Washington. Fanaika started the spring game, but first-year offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said that is no true indication of who is in the lead between the two.
Injuries have plagued the offensive line for the past three years, with at least one preseason projected starter going down before the midway point of the season. If the same happens in 2014, Grimes will have to shuffle some players around.
- Danielle Hunter, Jermauria Rasco
- Tashawn Bower, Lewis Neal
LSU has a plethora of defensive ends to chose from, but expect Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco to be the starters. Hunter tallied two sacks in the LSU spring game. Rasco sat out the entire spring to recover from shoulder surgery, but his experience will earn him a starting role.
Defensive line coach Brick Haley loves to rotate his ends, so depth will be key. Tashawn Bower and Lewis Neal are probably the top backups after playing sparingly as freshmen. Freshmen Frank Herron, M.J. Patterson and Deondre Clark will all be in the mix.
The LSU defensive ends should improve from its paltry 9.5 sacks in 2013. If not, the secondary will have a heavy load to carry.
- Christian LaCouture, Quentin Thomas
- Greg Gilmore, Maquedius Bain
Christian LaCouture and Quentin Thomas served as backups to Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson last season. Now they will get their chance to be starters next season. The duo combined for only 20 tackles, albeit in limited playing time.
But the biggest improvement at defensive tackle will be depth. There will be little, if any, drop-off from LaCouture and Thomas to Greg Gilmore and Maquedius Bain. The redshirt freshmen showed amazing strength while defending the run against the first unit in the spring game.
Incoming freshmen Travonte Valentine, Davon Godchaux and Trey Lealaimatafao could all play right away, according to Les Miles, via Will Weathers of TigerBait.com.
- Lamar Louis
- Ronnie Feist
- D.J. Welter
- Kendell Beckwith
- Kwon Alexander
- Debo Jones
Sam (Strong-Side) Linebacker
Mike (Middle) Linebacker
Will (Weak-Side) Linebacker
LSU should see an improvement at linebacker from last season. The experienced group should be amongst the best in the SEC.
Starters D.J. Welter and Kwon Alexander return. Alexander makes the move from the "Sam" to the "Will," which should give him more freedom to make plays. Lamar Louis raked in 25 tackles last season despite limited playing time.
Do not be surprised if backups Ronnie Feist, Kendell Beckwith or Debo Jones register starts next season. They all have talent but overall are inexperienced. Sophomore Duke Riley and incoming freshman Clifton Garrett have a shot to crack the rotation at some point in 2014.
- Tre'Davious White, Rashard Robinson
- Ed Paris, Jalen Collins
- Dwayne Thomas
- Jalen Mills
LSU's defensive backs could be in for a massive year in 2014.
Starting corners Tre'Davious White and Rashard Robinson might only be sophomores, but they played like seasoned veterans to close out last season. Junior Jalen Collins and early enrollee Ed Paris will be serviceable backups.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis will rotate players through his nickel and dime packages, which feature five and six defensive backs, respectively. Dwayne Thomas proved to be a playmaker as a blitzer last season. Jalen Mills, who made the move to safety, could see playing time there as well. Both Thomas and Mills had three sacks last season, which tied for second-most on the team.
- Jalen Mills, Ronald Martin
- Rickey Jefferson, Corey Thompson
LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond has a lot of safeties to choose from to be the starters. The challenge for him will be to find the players he can trust.
Jalen Mills and Ronald Martin finished spring as the starters, but talented junior Corey Thompson had to recover from knee surgery at the end of 2013. Sophomore Rickey Jefferson would be an unquestioned starter at most schools across the country.
Fans should keep an eye out for incoming freshmen Jamal Adams, John Battle and Devin Voorhies. Adams, a 5-star prospect, is most likely to crack the lineup.
- Colby Delahoussaye
- Trent Domingue
- Jamie Keehn
- Trent Domingue
- Reid Ferguson
- Connor LeBlanc
- Chris LaBorde
LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye only missed one field goal last season. Trent Domingue will be his backup, but incoming freshman Cameron Gamble has the talent to push for the backup role.
Domingue could have a better shot of winning the punting job from Jamie Keehn, who was inconsistent last season. They are the only two punters on LSU's roster.
It is a little too early to determine who will be returning kicks and punts for LSU next season. Tre'Davious White, Ed Paris, Travin Dural and Trey Quinn are a few names that will be in the running for the job.
*Follow me on Twitter @CarterthePower.