BATON ROUGE, La. — Symbolism is a big deal at LSU. Perhaps no symbols are bigger than the Nos. 7 and 18, each of which has come to represent different traits in the player that bears those digits.
No. 18 goes to the team leader. For the first time, the Tigers had two No. 18s this season — defensive end Christian LaCouture and H-back J.D. Moore.
No. 7 has evolved into the number of the playmaker. Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Leonard Fournette are among those who wore it before it was bequeathed to wide receiver DJ Chark this season.
Chark has done No. 7 proud, ranking fifth in the SEC with 811 receiving yards and third with an average of 23.2 yards per catch. He’s also returned a pair of punts for touchdowns.
Chark is a senior, however, which begs the question: Who will be the next Tiger to wear No. 7?
On offense, there’s no obvious choice. In all likelihood, LSU’s most explosive players this season — Derrius Guice, Darrel Williams and Russell Gage — will all be gone next year. Even if Guice makes the unlikely move of coming back to LSU for a senior season, he’s almost certainly going to stick with No. 5 out of deference to Fournette.
Sophomore receiver Stephen Sullivan is certainly an option, though that would be based more on the potential he has shown in practice more than his on-field results. Sullivan averaged an explosive 21.7 yards per catch, but he only has 9 receptions this season.
It seems more likely that No. 7 will go back to its roots in the Tigers secondary. If Donte Jackson returns for his senior year, he would make a strong candidate — but it also seems unlikely that a person could love wearing No. 1 more than the self-assured Jackson does.
With all that said, SEC Country went to Chark himself to see if he would spill the beans on his pick to be the next No. 7.
Chark confirmed that he already has a top choice. But he also pointed out that he wasn’t about to share that information with the media before actually telling that teammate, which he has yet to do.
“I can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet,” Chark said. “Hopefully, they accept it. That’s a big role. A lot of guys are afraid to be put in that role. But it’s a great tradition to wear it. It’s an honor and I have a feeling that the person in my mind will definitely accept that.”