5 freshmen to watch

Countdown to kickoff: The newest crop of Tigers has plenty of players to keep an eye on as the 2012 season unfolds.

Part 12 in the "Countdown to kickoff," offers a look at five true freshmen who must have an impact this season for LSU:

Lamar Louis

1. Lamar Louis and Ronnie Feist: These two interchangeable in terms of how big an impact they could have and how quickly, and both figure to play a lot of football this fall. Louis made the bigger splash in the spring game with a pick-six off a deflected ball, showing some break-away speed after he yanked the ball down. Although the veteran LB group is having a good pre-season camp, with Lamin Barrow and Tahj Jones close to nailing down starting jobs on either side of mainstay Kevin Minter, the young crew is continuing to push them.

2. Dillon Gordon: If the Tigers offensive coaches are intent on incorporating the tight end into the scheme more, Gordon is a great place to start moving forward. Though he is built more like an offensive lineman, the big John Curtis product has pillow-like hands and snatches any ball within his reach. After Chase Clement, there aren't a lot of pass-catching specialists among the current LSU tight ends, so Gordon has a chance – if he embraces the other parts of the tight end role – to step in and provide a nice weapon for Zach Mettenberger in the short passing game.

Vadal Alexander

3. Vadal Alexander: There always seems to be one freshman offensive lineman who finds his way onto the field one way or another, and the most likely candidate to get chance this season is the highly touted Alexander. Cut from the same massive mold as La'el Collins, Alexander was rated as the 11th best o-lineman in Scout.com's 2012 class and will battle Trai Turner for playing time as the backup guard on the right side. Alexander could also fill in at either tackle spot once he gets comfortable.

4. Travin Dural and Kavahra Holmes: There is tons of depth at receiver in terms of bodies, but after starters Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Russell Shepard, none of the other veterans have carved a spot as a reliable go-to pass-catcher yet. That could spell opportunities for the two rookie receivers and former Breaux Bridge teammates. Don't be surprised to see both in games early on and getting a chance to put their hands on the ball.

Danielle Hunter
5. Danielle Hunter: With plenty of talent to go around at defensive end, the Tigers could afford to redshirt Hunter to allow him to add some bulk to his 235-pound frame. His performance in the summer and so far in camp may make that impossible to do. Similarly to Barkevious Mingo and Jermauria Rasco, Hunter will make an impact with speed more than power and he has those two as role models to learn from this season. If there if either of those two misses any time, Hunter is poised to jump in and take some reps opposite the beefier ends in the LSU rotation.

5 redshirt freshmen to watch

5 sophomores to watch

5 juniors to watch

5 seniors to watch

5 special teams MVPs

5 defensive MVPs

5 offensive MVPs

5 keys to the season

LSU's season game-by-game

Predicting the West Division race

Predicting the East Division race

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