Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country
LSU safety John Battle was given a fifth year of eligibility Tuesday, which adds depth but could lead to a logjam at safety in 2018.

Bayou Bengal Briefing: What John Battle’s 5th season means for LSU football’s future, Arden Key update

Nick Suss

Welcome to the Bayou Bengal Briefing, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football with beat writer Nick Suss. Today we discuss LSU’s depth at safety, update Arden Key’s health, watch even more watch lists and more. Enjoy!

Safety gains extra year of eligibility

The LSU football team got some good news for 2018 Tuesday, when safety John Battle reclassified from a senior to a junior, taking advantage of the medical redshirt he received in 2014. Battle is the Tigers’ lone returning starting safety in 2017, a veteran in a secondary lacking the leadership left behind by Jamal Adams and Tre’Davious White.

Battle’s extension is a bittersweet one for LSU. While Battle’s return would provide depth to a 2018 unit that’ll be losing Ed Paris and potentially Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver, his spot on the roster could delay the development of a trio of talented safeties the Tigers brought in in 2017: JaCoby Stevens, Grant Delpit and Todd Harris.

LSU is no stranger to logjams at safety. Eric Monroe was the nation’s No. 3 safety for the Class of 2016, and all the Tigers did was redshirt him in 2016 then recruit Stevens, Delpit and Harris behind him. But a fifth season for Battle would intensify this logjam to a new degree.

If this sounds like a problem only LSU could produce, it probably is. But it is worth examining whether or not this is a luxury the LSU football team even needs. Again, it probably is. But only this season will tell.

Arden Key update

Speaking at a high school coaching clinic, LSU football coach Ed Orgeron gave a short update on the health status of Arden Key. The star edge rusher, who is rehabbing from an offseason shoulder surgery, has began running as rehab.

As Orgeron brought up July 10 at the SEC Media Days, the Tigers are prepared for Key to miss the beginning of fall camp, and potentially the beginning of the regular season. Key was a preseason first-team All-SEC selection at media days and just Tuesday was named the best edge rusher in college football by

Elsewhere on SEC Country

Alex Hickey, my partner in SEC Country’s LSU coverage, continued his offensive position previews Tuesday, forecasting what LSU’s running back situation looks like. Of course, it’s a lot of Derrius Guice. But there are some other names you might not recognize.

Included in all of these posts is a confidence poll, where you can pick just how bullish you are about each of LSU’s individual position groups. Here’s the running backs poll if you would like your voice to be heard.

Something to get angry about

The folks over at Rivals wrote an article Tuesday picking which SEC team has the most recruiting success at every position. And as keen-eyed Tigers fans would notice, the LSU football team didn’t win any of the battles.

Of course, no one would be fighting for LSU’s supremacy at a position like quarterback. But at running back, linebacker and defensive back, the Tigers have some gripes. Obviously LSU’s history at defensive back is well documented. But the Tigers have put running backs and middle linebackers into the NFL at an astounding rate in the past decade too.

Counting this year’s rookies, LSU has six running backs and nine linebackers in the NFL. By comparison, Alabama has six running backs and seven linebackers. This isn’t to say putting players in the NFL is the end-all, be-all of success. It’s just to say that these races might’ve been closer than some may have expected.

Something to be less angry about

Tyler Shelvin, the No. 1 recruit in Louisiana for the Class of 2017 and the sole LSU football player yet to report to campus this summer, is getting close, his grandmother told SEC Country Tuesday. LSU expects Shelvin to be on campus for the second week of fall camp, as the Tigers are waiting on Shelvin to finish up his summer classes to qualify academically.

Shelvin is expected to factor into the rotation of LSU’s stout defensive tackles this year, alongside senior Greg Gilmore and sophomore Ed Alexander.

LSU players on the watch lists

LSU quarterback Danny Etling was put on the Wuerffel Trophy watch list Tuesday, the award given to college football’s pre-eminent community service worker. The trophy is named after former Florida quarterback and 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel.

Additionally, Key was named to his third watch list, the Butkus Award given to the nation’s top linebacker. Key is already on the watch lists for the Bednarik (top defender) and Maxwell (top player) awards.

Today in made-up holidays

Let’s make it a double feature. According to the folks at, Wednesday is both “National Hot Dog Day” and “National Daiquiri Day.” Which is awesome.

Honestly, it’s a little bit weird that National Hot Dog Day isn’t the 4th of July. That’s like putting “National Turkey Day” on Dec. 5th or “National Cookies for Santa Day” on Jan. 18th. But nevertheless, this is an awesome combination.

If you live here in Louisiana, get yourself a daiquiri from any of the 900 establishments in a 10-mile radius. And if you’re in a place where food is sold, get yourself a hot dog. And love it. Meal of champions.

Miss a previous edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing? Find every one of SEC Country’s daily LSU football columns right here.