BATON ROUGE, La. — One of Dave Aranda’s biggest stamps on the LSU defense so far was shifting Tre’Davious White to nickel.
The new defensive coordinator’s decision to have the senior play in the middle of the field leaves some competition at the outside cornerback spots. Consider Donte Jackson a prime candidate for a role there.
Jackson played nickel last year while White was on the outside. The two defensive backs seem primed to swap positions entering 2016, which may best suit each player’s skill set.
“(White) looks great,” Jackson said. “Tre’Davious is an awesome playmaker and a smart guy, one of the smarter guys I’ve ever seen play, so you can put him anywhere … at outside linebacker, at safety, because anywhere he’s going to play he makes play and be around the ball and set you up. Nickel is a great fit for him.
“It’s me and Kevin (Toliver) while he’s at nickel, but we have a ton of guys able to fill that role. Everyone can contribute. It’s not an adjustment for me because I came in as a (defensive back). Coach (Corey) Raymond brings all his guys in as DBs, so you can’t have one position, one side of the ball or inside or outside corner. You come in ready to play and play anywhere he puts you.”
Jackson may not only nab White’s spot as the outside cornerback, but his punt return job as well.
The speedy sophomore expects to have an expanded role on special teams at both kick and punt returner, splitting time with White and sophomore Derrius Guice.
“I think I’ll play a lot of special teams,” Jackson said. “I should be (returning kicks and punts). We have an awesome kickoff return guy in Guice and I don’t see him going anywhere, but punts, most likely I can contribute. Both (me and White) will be back there swapping in and out like last year.”
Jackson’s ability to play all over the LSU defense comes in handy as he and the rest of his teammates prepare to take on new roles. That’s been the theme for many players under Aranda.
The coaching staff has helped all of the players assimilate to those different positions, Jackson said, and in the secondary, the talent makes the transition easier.
“Coach Aranda is a smart guy, and Coach Raymond puts me in a lot of positions and places to make plays,” Jackson said. “We can’t move everyone around, but everyone can focus on their position to make a lot of plays as a secondary.”
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tiger Stadium.