The summer has officially arrived.
In other words, LSU’s 2016 class signees are planning to report to campus at the end of this week ahead of fall camp in August.
The Tigers’ latest recruiting class featured 25 prospects, including five who have enrolled early and Da’Monte Coxie, a three-star wide receiver who will first attend junior college.
Overall, 18 members of the signing class were categorized as blue-chip prospects, including headlining members Kristian Fulton and Rashard Lawrence, who were both five-star recruits.
When fall camp arrives, certain holes on the depth chart could lead to certain players seeing the field earlier than others. SEC Country examined the LSU signees capable of climbing the depth chart quickly in August — and likely getting a chance to compete when the season rolls around.
Saivion Smith, CB: Smith saw extensive action at cornerback this spring with Kevin Toliver II sidelined with a shoulder injury and Donte Jackson missing part of the time. The early enrollee shined early on, regularly garnering praise from coach Les Miles. With Toliver and Tre’Davious White back in the fold, Smith could find himself as a rotational contributor in the secondary, either on the outside or in the nickel.
Devin White, LB: White’s switch to the defensive side of the ball was made so that he could see the field early. The versatile athlete was thrust into action sooner than expected, taking over for Kendell Beckwith after he was injured at the start of spring practices. White needed no time to step into the action and play the part accordingly. With Duke Riley and Donnie Alexander battling for the starting inside linebacker job next to Beckwith, it would not be shocking to see White become a regular part of the rotation or eventually surpass one of those veterans on the depth chart.
Dee Anderson, WR: LSU signed a trio of talented wide receivers in its 2016 class. Along with Anderson was Stephen Sullivan, a massive target, and Drake Davis, an already-polished wide receiver. However, Anderson has the skill-set that none of the current LSU wideouts seems to possess. That was put on display during the spring game when he corralled a 70-yard touchdown pass, the longest play from scrimmage in the contest. Anderson could provide that big-play spark to complement LSU’s running attack and newly implemented short-passing game.
Kristian Fulton, CB: The five-star cornerback signed with LSU over Florida and Arkansas because of the opportunity he saw for himself in Baton Rouge, La. Besides incumbents White and Toliver — and add Smith to the equation now as well — the Tigers are not exactly deep in the secondary. That means a strong fall camp could translate to a vital role in the cornerback rotation for Fulton, who during his high school career thrived in one-on-one coverage. That should amount to some sort of role for the New Orleans native early on in the season.
Rashard Lawrence, DT: With a 3-4 defense now installed, numerous members of the LSU defensive line have been forced to change positions. That includes Christian LaCouture and Davon Godchaux, who have moved from defensive tackle to nose guard and defensive end, respectively. LaCouture is entrenched as the starter, but Lawrence could quickly emerge as his backup and a valuable component in the defensive line rotation. Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron will need bodies early on, and the former five-star prospect should take full advantage of the thin depth chart and chance to contribute right away.
Eric Monroe, S: While Jamal Adams is cemented as a starting safety, it remains unclear whether Rickey Jefferson can hold onto his position, too. The former four-star prospect out of Texas should push Jefferson for the starting spot opposite of Adams, if he can prove he can make a seamless transition to the college game. Either way, Monroe is certainly a candidate to earn playing time at the back end of LSU’s defense sooner rather than later, as the Tigers lack depth and need to improve in that area.
Rahsaan Thornton, DE/OLB: Perhaps the most significant position on the new-look LSU defense is outside linebacker. Thornton may have been recruited to play defensive end, but he’ll transition to a stand-up outside backer role. The quicker he can adjust to the new position, the quicker he can carve himself a role in the linebacker rotation. Thornton was one of the nation’s premier pass-rushers in the 2016 recruiting class, and if he can quickly get after opposing quarterbacks, Dave Aranda will have no choice but to put him on the field.
Andre Anthony, DE/OLB: Similar to Thornton, Anthony thrived as a defensive end during his high school career. However, he also will make the switch to a 3-4 outside linebacker at LSU. One of the biggest challenges ahead of the former four-star prospect is learning how to drop back in coverage. Aranda will be testing all of the incoming outside backers to see which players can rush the passer and perform in pass coverage to determine playing time. Anthony, along with Thornton, should both push Corey Thompson and Tashawn Bower for playing time and a spot in the rotation.
Cameron Lewis, S: Lewis was one of the top-performing athletes from the state of Louisiana the past couple of years. The former four-star recruit played both quarterback and free safety at Wossman High School (Monroe, La.), but will make the permanent switch to the defensive side of the ball for LSU. Lewis was on hand for some of LSU’s spring practices, taking notice of how coach Corey Raymond and his players work in the system. Lewis is a strong run-defender and has a nose for the football, and should compete alongside Monroe to overcome Jefferson on the depth chart or at least find himself a spot in the secondary rotation.
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tigers Stadium.