BATON ROUGE, La. — Whittling down the 10 best players on the LSU football team this season was no easy task. And properly ordering them into those 10 spots once we broke it down that far may have proven even more difficult.
But we at SEC Country gave it the old college try as we finish the countdown of the top Tigers this week. When it’s over, feel free to let us know what you think we got right — or wrong.
No. 5: OLB Arden Key
The switch from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker was no sweat for Key, who continued his freakish development as a sophomore.
Key’s swagger is unquestionable. Despite having only one season under his belt, he came into 2016 with the seemingly ridiculous goal of 20 sacks this season. He only got halfway there, finishing tied for third all-time among LSU pass rushers with 10 sacks. Had he not been suspended for the season finale at Texas A&M, he would have had a shot at Oliver Lawrence’s school record of 12 sacks.
While pass rushing is Key’s strength (you can watch the video of all his sacks this season below), it is not his only skill. Perhaps his most impressive play this season was a pass breakup at Arkansas. Key used all of his 6-foot-6 frame to bat down an Austin Allen pass at the goal line, turning a would-be touchdown into a field-goal attempt.
With Myles Garrett and Jonathan Allen out of the picture, Key figures to assume the mantle as the most feared pass rusher in the SEC.
He will draw plenty of double-teams and other tricks of the trade in various attempts to neutralize him. However, should Davon Godchaux join Christian LaCouture in returning for the Tigers up front, there is a potential for disruption elsewhere that will allow Key to break free.
He is still unlikely to reach his 20-sack goal, but do expect Key to become LSU’s new single-season sack record holder next year.
Top 10 LSU players
No. 10: DL Davon Godchaux
No. 9: LB Duke Riley
No. 8: RB Leonard Fournette
No. 7: G Will Clapp
No. 6: C Ethan Pocic