LSU will return to the football field for spring practice on Sunday. In the meantime, SEC Country is preparing for those workouts by previewing each position group as it stands after National Signing Day. We start the final week before practice with the defensive line.
LSU defensive line depth chart
- Junior Rashard Lawrence
- Junior Breiden Fehoko
- Sophomore Glen Logan
- Sophomore Neil Farrell Jr.
- Redshirt freshman Justin Thomas
- Freshman Davin Cotton
- Freshman Nelson Jenkins
- Junior Ed Alexander
- Redshirt freshman Tyler Shelvin
- Freshman Chasen Hines
- Freshman Dare Rosenthal
- Freshman Dominic Livingston
- Freshman Nelson Jenkins
Departures and arrivals
- Departures: DE Christian LaCouture, DE Frank Herron, NT Greg Gilmore (graduation)
- Arrivals: Fehoko, Cotton, Jenkins, Hines, Rosenthal, Livingston
Big number of big bodies
Last year, LSU’s depth on the defensive line was so non-existent that Christian LaCouture had to play every snap against Syracuse. The Orange offense took 82 snaps. That’s basically like asking a big man to run a half-marathon.
LaCouture may be gone, but at least he won’t lack replacements. Ed Orgeron has taken plenty of flak for LSU’s lowest-rated signing class since 2002, but there’s no disputing that he addressed the issues at defensive line.
Five freshman defensive linemen will be in the mix. All of them are listed as defensive tackles on LSU’s roster, though in a 3-4 defense Cotton and Jenkins project as ends unless both redshirt to bulk up.
The biggest storyline of the spring will be seeing how many of the newcomers have an opportunity to make a contribution this fall.
The other Texas Tech transfer
Wide receiver Jonathan Giles recently made headlines by being awarded No. 7, which is handed out to LSU’s most dangerous playmaker. Thing is, Giles might not be the best Texas Tech transfer on this roster.
Fehoko, a fellow former Red Raider, also will take the field after sitting out last season because of NCAA transfer rules. Fehoko played tackle in Texas Tech’s porous 4-3 defense, so anyone looking at the numbers is unlikely to realize what an impact he’s likely to make. Paired with Lawrence, he potentially will give LSU the best defensive line bookends of any 3-4 defense in the country.
Biggest man on campus
Shelvin isn’t going to start over Alexander — at least not right away — but he will make an impact.
The 5-star prospect from Lafayette, La., had to sit out last season as a partial academic qualifier. The strength and conditioning staff has worked with Shelvin to get his weight down from 378 pounds so he can be more durable, but his strength and surprisingly nimble footwork will assure he gets on the field at any weight.
No. 18 has not been awarded yet, but Lawrence is a prime candidate. Along with linebacker Devin White, Lawrence is not just a leader of the LSU defense, but the whole team. It is no coincidence that LSU’s two ugliest losses of 2017 — Mississippi State and Troy — happened when Lawrence was out with an ankle injury.
The top of the depth chart is set with Lawrence, Alexander and Fehoko. This spring, we will see who else is ready to play.
If the Tigers can realistically go three-deep at each position on the line, this unit should be the anchor of LSU’s best run defense since 2012. That’s the last time LSU ranked in the top 10 nationally against the run, allowing just 101.6 yards per game.