BATON ROUGE, La. — It doesn’t take long for the signing day dust to settle before fan bases start wondering which member of the incoming recruiting class will make the most immediate impact. Those questions don’t start getting answered until training camp, and with two weeks to go before LSU starts preparing for its season opener against Brigham Young, they are still a long way from being answered definitively.
After all, anyone who saw JaCoby Stevens’ progress as a safety this spring wouldn’t have guessed he would soon be a wide receiver. Things can change quickly with freshmen.
But through one week of camp, it’s clear that two freshmen are catching LSU coach Ed Orgeron’s eye. One of them is expected — pass-rushing specialist K’Lavon Chaisson was arguably the Tigers’ biggest get on signing day. The other is more of a surprise, at least to those who haven’t watched him work out — running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
K’Lavon Chaisson is ‘dominating’
While describing Chaisson following the Tigers’ Saturday scrimmage, Orgeron used the word “dominant” on four different occasions.
“He was dominant. Just dominant,” Orgeron said. “He runs around. Great kid. Very humble — yes sir, no sir. He’s just learning. Extremely quick. He’s exactly the player we thought he was when we recruited him. He’s a little more physical. Weighs 240 right now. Very strong. He’s smart. He’s going to be a good player for us.”
The stats provided from Chaisson’s performance give credence to that assessment. He had 3 tackles for loss, a sack and 4 quarterback hurries playing with the second string.
There is a caveat, naturally. That particular stat line came against the No. 2 offensive line, which was mostly a No. 3 offensive line for LSU’s first scrimmage because of the domino effect from starters Will Clapp, K.J. Malone and Toby Weathersby sitting out. Chaisson is dominating who he should be dominating. But it might not be long before he’s ready to step it up a notch.
For the start of the season, his contributions probably will come in obvious third-down passing situations, either lined up in place of Arden Key or opposite Key if he’s able to play in the opener.
“We’ve had some third-down scrimmages where he’s been hard to block,” Orgeron said. “He’s been all over the place.”
Clyde Edwards-Helaire: ‘Surprise of camp’
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is no stranger to being overlooked. These things happen when you’re 5-foot-8.
But Edwards-Helaire uses that to his advantage, running with such an edge that recently-retired Baton Rouge Catholic High coach Dale Weiner referred to him as a “rolling ball of butcher knives.”
Orgeron is now discovering how useful a rolling ball of butcher knives can be in his drawer.
“We always knew he was a good back. But three days ago, first day in pads, was dominant. He had maybe three runs over 60 yards,” Orgeron gushed. “The way he makes them miss, the way he hits the hole. His vision, his physicality. He’s just an overall outstanding young player.”
Darrel Williams had a strong scrimmage Saturday (9 touches, 62 all-purpose yards, 1 TD) and seems pretty solidly behind Derrius Guice as LSU’s No. 2 running back. But like Chaisson, Edwards-Helaire could be used as a specialty weapon that makes the Tigers more dangerous in third-down situations.
“Clyde Edwards-Helaire has actually been the surprise of camp,” Orgeron said. “What a tremendous runner. We feel that he’s going to be a great young man.”