It is shaping up as a banner year for LSU sports.
Men’s basketball is poised for a long run in the NCAA Tournament; the baseball team is expected to reach Omaha and compete for a College World Series title; and the football team won 10 games for the first time since 2013, including a New Year’s Six bowl.
Football kicks off spring practice March 7, and when it does, the Tigers will have something quite rare for LSU football – an accomplished, returning starter at quarterback. Senior-to-be Joe Burrow is what an LSU source called “the unquestioned leader of this team, someone the players follow.”
Burrow led LSU to a pair of huge upset wins. The Tigers were 10 1/2-point underdogs at Auburn and 7 1/2-point dogs at home against Georgia. Burrow threw nine TD passes and only one interception in his last three games. In those games, he completed 66 of 100 throws.
But, an LSU insider said one of the most impressive items of the past season was the development of backup quarterback Myles Brennan, who now weighs more than 200 pounds.
“The light has gone on for Myles,” said a source.
True freshman Peter Parrish is expected to be a “big time player” said the insider. Parrish led Phenix Central (Alabama) High School to its first unbeaten season since 1944. He was the MVP of the state’s Class 7A championship game.
“For the first time in a long time, we have depth at the quarterback position,” said an LSU source. “We don’t have to play someone before they are ready.”
The running back position will be boosted by a pair of incoming freshmen, Destrehan’s John Emery and Tyrion Davis. But, a source said to expect a big year from incumbent Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is expected to be a focal part of the passing game brought to LSU by new passing game coordinator Joe Brady.
“Clyde will get a chance to be used like the Saints used Alvin Kamara,” said a source.
The offensive line will return nearly intact, with Saahdiq Charles at left tackle, Lloyd Cushenberry at center and guards Damien Lewis and Chasen Hines.
LSU’s top four receivers return. And, an already deep position will be bolstered by the arrival of Amite High School true freshman Devonte Lee.
LSU’s secondary is expected to be one of the best in the nation. Cornerback Kristian Fulton, who was given a second-round grade by the NFL, returned to school. He will be paired with five-star cornerback, true freshman Derek Stingley. Safety Grant Delpit, a unanimous 2018 All American, returns.
On the defensive line, tackle Tyler Shelvin is down to a svelte 335 pounds. He is expected to be a force inside.
And, LSU’s best pass rusher, K’Lavon Chaisson, returns.
Chaisson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the fourth quarter of LSU’s season opening 33-17 win over Miami. That win was the kickoff of one of the most surprising seasons in recent LSU football history.
The Tigers were viewed as overachievers then, but not now. All Ed Orgeron and krewe have to prove now is that 2018 was not an outlier, but a new standard.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.