BATON ROUGE, La. — Teams don’t finish the regular season ranked No. 13 without having a handful of good players.
So, as the LSU football team prepares for the Citrus Bowl on Dec. 31, we here at SEC Country will be counting down the top 10 Louisville football players you should know about heading into the game.
Yesterday, Alex Hickey broke down our picks for Louisville’s No. 10 and No. 9 best players. Today, I’ll be taking a look Nos. 8 and 7. Be sure to follow along with the countdown all week right here on SECCountry.com/LSU as we work our way to the (obvious) No. 1 pick.
No. 8: Defensive tackle DeAngelo Brown
A senior defensive tackle out of Savannah, Ga., Brown is a disruptive presence on the interior of Louisville’s defensive line.
Brown recorded a team-high 12 tackles-for-loss this season, along with three sacks, one forced fumble and one quarterback hurry. Brown seemed to elevate his game against the toughest competition, notching five of his 12 TFLs against Florida State, Clemson and Houston.
The highlight of Brown’s season came in Louisville’s 44-12 win over Wake Forest, when he made six tackles, 2.5 for loss, and had a career-high 1.5 sacks.
LSU’s interior line trio of Ethan Pocic, Will Clapp and Josh Boutte is a formidable group, but the 6-foot-1, 310-pound Brown will keep those three occupied all game and attempt to thwart Derrius Guice and LSU’s interior run game.
No. 7: Wide receiver Jaylen Smith
No team in the country has accounted for more plays of 20 yards or more than Louisville. And Jaylen Smith is a huge part of this.
Louisville’s third-leading receiver, Smith is a 6-4 sophomore from Pascagoula, Miss., who turned down offers from Ole Miss and Mississippi State in favor of Louisville. He seems to have made the right decision.
Smith only caught 27 passes this season, but 20 of them were for first downs, 17 of them went for 15 yards or more and six of them ended in touchdowns. A true deep threat, Smith averaged 22.19 yards per reception in 2016, the fifth-most of any player in college football who averaged at least two catches per game.
Smith made at least one catch in every game this season, but only caught more than three passes once, a six-catch, 123-yard performance against Boston College. His most memorable contribution of the season came against Virginia (see above), when he caught a winning touchdown as time dwindled to improve Louisville’s record to 7-1.