BATON ROUGE, La. — It’ll be déjà vu for Christian LaCouture at Tiger Stadium on Saturday night.
LaCouture is one of 20 seniors who will be honored during LSU’s senior day ceremonies. He’s also one of three fifth-year seniors on the defensive line, joining teammates and close friends Frank Herron and Greg Gilmore. But he’s the only one in that group who will be getting honored for the second straight senior day.
LaCouture missed all of last season with a knee injury, and the presumption was that he would enter the NFL draft. Like his fellow senior classmates, LaCouture walked onto the field with his family before LSU’s game against Florida with the presumption being that his career at Tiger Stadium was coming to a close.
But then-interim coach Ed Orgeron remained optimistic that it wasn’t, telling LaCouture’s grandfather, “Let’s do this again next year.”
Come Saturday, they will.
“Hopefully I can go out there with pads this time,” LaCouture said with a smile.
The hiring of Orgeron as LSU’s full-time coach was instrumental in LaCouture’s decision to use his fifth season of eligibility.
“It made it a lot easier. I knew what Coach O and Coach Aranda would bring,” LaCouture said. “I didn’t know if I wanted to go through that process again if Coach O didn’t get it.”
He has no regrets over bypassing the NFL for another season.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “I was talking to my mom and dad about that last night. I don’t know where I would be right now [had I left]. But I know the way I played this year and being around this team, I wouldn’t change it. No doubt about it.”
LaCouture was rewarded for his devotion to the program, earning jersey number 18 for leadership. He has also proven to be a playmaker on LSU’s defensive line. LaCouture is second on the team with 61 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. He leads the team in sacks with 6 — an impressive feat for any player on the same field as Arden Key, even if the pass-rushing standout has missed three games.
“For me, showing that my knee’s OK [has been the biggest benefit]. Just playing ball again,” he said. “I couldn’t do it without Greg and Ed [Alexander] and Rashard [Lawrence] in there, or the linebackers and defensive backs locking it down so I can get sacks.”
Even if the pregame ceremony feels the same as it did a year ago, this time LaCouture will get to play. That’s all the evidence he needs to know he made the right choice.
“It’s going to be fun,” LaCouture said. “The last time in Tiger Stadium.”
For real this time.