Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country
LSU quarterback Lowell Narcisse

Bayou Bengal Briefing: Which LSU early enrollees have the best chances to start in 2017?

Nick Suss

BATON ROUGE, La. — It’s hard not to obsess over recruits. I get it, LSU football fans. I really do.

They’re fun and new and mysterious and different and fresh and are pure potential. So, it’s difficult not lump them all together in an immense ball of pressure and expectation the second they arrive on campus, as the six newest LSU football players did Monday.

But that’s not fair to them. Whether you’re a 5-star blue-chipper or a 3-star signee just happy to be invited to campus, you should be afforded the opportunity to learn the campus bus system before you’re asked to fill the shoes of a graduating senior who’s moving on to the NFL.

That said, LSU will be losing a lot of talent heading into 2017. In theory, I could see 11 former Tigers being drafted this spring. So, younger players — be they redshirted freshmen and sophomores or true freshmen — are going to be called upon more than they were in 2016.

With that in mind, let’s break down what the chances are that these six LSU freshmen see significant playing time in 2017:

5-star defensive back JaCoby Stevens

Stevens has the best chance to play and play early of any of LSU’s recruits, let alone the early enrollees. Stevens is the No. 1 safety in his class and at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds he’s got great size.

But he’ll have to compete with returning players such as Ed Paris, Xavier Lewis and Eric Monroe to start opposite John Battle. Jamal Adams has big shoes to fill, but Stevens might be up to the task.

Chances he starts in 2017: 75 percent

4-star offensive tackle Austin Deculus

LSU has two offensive line spots to fill this season with Ethan Pocic and Josh Boutte graduating. But the Tigers also started six linemen last year, and Maea Teuhema has experience at guard having filled in for Boutte and Will Clapp in the past.

Deculus has rare size that fits him as a tackle, but his best chance to play is at guard, assuming Clapp bumps inside to center. If he doesn’t, which Clapp has told me in the past he’s willing to do but it hasn’t been discussed, Deculus might just be a backup.

Chances he starts in 2017: 25 percent

4-star safety Grant Delpit

At 6-3, Delpit is massive for a safety. If he can add weight to his frame, he could be a dangerous linebacker just as much as a safety in theory.

But he’ll be behind all the same people Stevens is, as well as Stevens himself. It’ll be an uphill battle to play.

Chances he starts in 2017: 5 percent

4-star wide receiver Mannie Netherly

With D.J. Chark set to return for 2017, LSU’s need at receiver isn’t as drastic. Behind Chark the Tigers have Dee Anderson, Russell Gage, Stephen Sullivan, Drake Davis, as well as potentially Malachi Dupre.

LSU will be fine at wideout. Netherly can wait a year.

Chances he starts in 2017: 0 percent

4-star quarterback Lowell Narcisse

I’ve written all I need to about Narcisse’s chances of starting. You can read that here.

Chances he starts in 2017: 1 percent

3-star defensive end Justin Thomas

Thomas is an interesting case. He’s the least heralded of the options, but his position is an immediate need. LSU has a surplus of interior linemen (Greg Gilmore, Ed Alexander, 4-star Tyler Shelvin, potentially 5-star Marvin Wilson), but doesn’t have an experienced replacement for Lewis Neal and Davon Godchaux other than Christian LaCouture.

That leaves one spot up for grabs. I think it’ll go to one of the four aforementioned interior guys playing out of position, but if defensive coordinator Dave Aranda wants a true end, it’s going to be down to Thomas, Frank Herron, Deondre Clark and Rashard Lawrence. There’s a chance it’s Thomas.

Chances he starts in 2017: 15 percent

Results: LSU football poll question

Let’s address the elephant in the room: We might’ve just witnessed one of the top 5 games in college football history. It was tons of fun. Whether you were pulling for Clemson or Alabama, you probably enjoyed yourself.

In Bayou Bengal Briefing on Monday, I asked you guys to predict who you thought would win the title game. I picked Alabama. I was wrong. About 300 of you voted. And a lot of you were wrong, too.

lsu football
We asked LSU fans who they thought would win between Alabama and Clemson. Here are the results. (Nick Suss/SEC Country)

In what ended up being a closer vote than I expected, 53 percent of you picked Alabama and 47 percent of you picked Clemson.

To those of you who picked the upset, kudos. To those of you who picked the upset just because I didn’t, more kudos. It’s probably smart to make the pick that I don’t.

But yeah, that was a helluva football game. I’m glad that I watched until the end, and I hope you did too, even if you had to wake up early for work Tuesday morning. This was a great one. One that I’ll be telling stories about for a long while, even though I wasn’t there. It’s one for the memory banks, up there with Texas-USC in 2006 and Florida State-Auburn in 2014.

On to 2017 we go.

ICYMI

There’s always LSU sports news. Here’s some you might’ve missed:

Guice or Chark? Chark or Guice? Guice, apparently

When Chark announced his return for his senior year on Monday, he did it in a tweet where he seemed to announce that Leonard Fournette bequeathed upon him LSU’s iconic No. 7. Chark makes sense for the honor. He’s well-liked, he’s a flashy player and he’s a native Louisianan.

But later in the day, star running back Derrius Guice spoke up.

It looks like Guice got Chark’s permission to take over for Fournette. This begs the question why Fournette gave it to Chark in the first place if Guice wanted it. But if there’s not going to be any in-fighting, the team’s most popular player might as well get the honor.

As for who is going to take over No. 18? That’s not quite clear yet.

Yet another Weezy collaborator

Speaking of former LSU players, senior defensive end Lewis Neal joined Lil Wayne’s agency on Monday. The New Orleans rapper has signed both Neal and linebacker Duke Riley in the last week or so, further preserving the pipeline from New Orleans to Baton Rouge and Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

Later in the night, Neal posted a photo of him and Riley alongside their new agency.

One last comparison: LSU’s past versus Clemson’s present

Clemson played its butt off Monday night and earned every bit of the national championship it just won.

So, for the sake of fun, let’s check out how LSU’s 2003 and 2007 national championship teams compare statistically to the 2016 Clemson Tigers and imagine what games between those teams might look like:

Team PPG YPG Def. PPG Def. YPG Turnover Margin 1st Downs Per Def. 1st Downs Per
’03 LSU 33.9 418 11.0 252 +5 21.3 13.6
’07 LSU 38.6 439 19.9 289 +20 22.6 16.5
’16 CLEM 39.2 504 18.0 312 -1 28.9 17.0

Honestly, I had forgotten just how dominant that 2003 LSU team was. That team was really good. How would it have reacted to a Clemson offense unlike anything that existed in 2003? I don’t know. But adjusted for its time, that team might belong in the discussion among some of college football’s truly great teams.

Today in made-up holidays

According to the fine folks over at NationalDayCalendar.com, Tuesday is “National Cut Your Energy Costs Day.”

Other than being a mouthful, that makes Tuesday a good reminder to save money where you can. Pinch pennies. Take shorter showers. Unplug things when you’re not using them. Conserve water. Not just for the environment but for your wallet.

And you know where we can start? How about turning off the glowing lights above Tiger Stadium some nights. Geez. I don’t live too far from Tiger Stadium and every time I drive by late at night, it blinds me. I can’t imagine the energy we expend keeping those lights on when no one is there to enjoy them.

As a taxpayer in the state of Louisiana, I don’t want fractions of the cents from my paycheck going to powering an empty stadium. And I know you guys don’t either. So, let’s not stand for this any longer.

Turn off the darn lights, people. Let the street lights do their job. Scoreboards are only necessary when their showing a score.

And maybe, just maybe, if you turn off the lights, it’ll be harder for people to break in. Seems like common sense to me.

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