LSU’s highly-anticipated football season gets underway March 7 with the start of spring practices.
Each day, SEC Country will take a look at one key position group on the LSU roster and analyze the talent returning, the departures and the new additions while providing expert analysis on the most prominent storylines to keep an eye on.
The spring football preview series will continue weekdays through March 4.
Defensive backs coach: Corey Raymond
Key returners: Jamal Adams
Other returners: Corey Thompson, John Battle, Rickey Jefferson
Newcomers: Eric Monroe, Cameron Lewis
Departures: Jalen Mills
Outlook: LSU’s secondary will have a familiar look to it next season, but the back end is destined for a hint of change.
Gone is Mills, who started six games in 2015, registering three pass breakups and three passes defensed in spot duty as he dealt with a leg injury early on in the season. He spent time at both nickel and at safety, and entered the season as the Tigers’ most seasoned contributor in the defensive backfield.
As Mills pursues his NFL dreams, the burden falls onto Adams to take over the LSU secondary.
Last season, the sophomore led the team in interceptions with four, and also recorded the third-most tackles (67), including five for loss, to go along with six pass breakups, 10 passes defensed and a forced fumbles.
Adams’ play on the field speaks for itself, but he will also have to take on a leadership role as one of the few veterans manning the back end of the LSU defense.
Raymond will have a small but talented crew of candidates to take Mills’ spot in the lineup.
Among the veterans expected to be in the mix as safety are Thompson and Jefferson.
A rising redshirt senior, Thompson earned starts against Alabama, Ole Miss and Texas A&M down the stretch run of the season. Jefferson drew a starting job in the secondary for the injured Mills. The younger brother of former LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson, Rickey notched nine starts, and in that extensive action secured 36 tackles, an interception and a sack.
The two incumbents are expected to receive stark competition from two newcomers.
One of the prized members of LSU’s 2016 class is Monroe, a former four-star prospect and the nation’s No. 3 safety. The 6-foot, 185-pound Texan boasts good coverage skills and is stout against the run, and has demonstrated his elite athleticism with his skills on the basketball court, too.
Monroe is joined by Lewis, who was one of top athletes from Louisiana in the class. The 6-foot-1, 192-pounder was also a four-star prospect and the No. 13 safety in the country. Lewis played both defensive back and quarterback as Wossman High School (Monroe, La.).
Neither Monroe nor Lewis will participate in the Tigers’ spring practices, but both should press the veterans for playing time. Whoever can nab a starting role or a spot in the safety rotation will have big shoes to fill opposite Adams.
Here’s a look at our past and upcoming previews:
- Quarterback an area of stability entering 2016
- Heisman Trophy hopeful headlines talented backfield
- Newcomers aim to make instant impact at wide receiver
- Last year’s surprise the clear-cut tight end
- Competition expected along the offensive line
- Defensive front boasts strengths in numbers
- Freshmen look to find roles in linebacking corps
- Health, inexperience a theme at cornerback
- March 4: Talent returns on special teams