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.
Wide receivers coach: Dameyune Craig
Key returners: Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural
Other returners: Tyron Johnson, D.J. Chark
Newcomers: Stephen Sullivan, Drake Davis, Dee Anderson
Departures: Trey Quinn, John Diarse
Outlook: LSU’s wide receiving corps suffered a high degree of turnover in recent weeks, and that includes both the personnel and the coaching staff.
Dameyune Craig is a few weeks into his tenure at LSU after spending the past three years at SEC West rival Auburn and, before that, at Florida State. He replaces Tony Ball, who left the team after one season to pursue other opportunities.
Craig, a record-setting quarterback at Auburn, is known more for his recruiting than his on-the-field coaching, but Les Miles believes the newest addition to the Tigers coaching staff will make a great impact based on his knowledge of the offense.
Craig inherits a collection of talent headlined by returners Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural, but is without Trey Quinn and John Diarse.
Quinn and Diarse both announced their transfer from LSU this offseason, with Diarse landing at TCU. Quinn’s next destination hasn’t been decided.
Last year, Diarse and Quinn ranked Nos. 4 and 7 in receiving, respectively, with a combined 18 receptions for 217 yards and no touchdowns.
That leaves more targets on the table for the likes of LSU’s top two returning receivers. Dupre led the Tigers with 43 catches for 698 yards and six touchdowns in 2015, and Dural notched 28 receptions for 533 yards and three touchdowns before tearing his hamstring — forcing him to miss the rest of the season — against Ole Miss.
It also opens the door for rising sophomore Tyron Johnson and rising junior D.J. Chark.
Johnson came on late last season, catching five passes for 83 yards and a touchdown against Ole Miss. He could have a major impact if granted the opportunity. He starred in a spread offense at Warren Easton High School (New Orleans), and that seems to be the direction LSU is heading in.
Likewise, Chark boasts great speed, but has had difficulty seeing the field the past two years.
LSU signed three four-star prospects in its 2016 class: Stephen Sullivan, Dee Anderson and Drake Davis. Any of the three are capable of carving out of a role as true freshmen.
The LSU coaches aimed to bring in big, athletic receivers in the class, and that’s precisely what they accomplished with this trio. Davis measures in at 6-foot-3, while Anderson and Sullivan are 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, respectively, adding an element of height to the receiving corps that it previously lacked.
Give Anderson an edge over Sullivan and Davis, as the Texas native is an early enrollee and has a chance to practice with the team this spring. However, Davis is one of the nation’s more polished young receivers and Sullivan boasts freakish size, speed and athleticism, giving each of the three a fair crack at seeing the field in 2016.
Here’s a look at our past and upcoming previews:
- Quarterback an area of stability entering 2016
- Heisman Trophy hopeful headlines talented backfield
- Feb. 25: Last year’s surprise the clear-cut tight end