Almost two weeks removed from LSU's spring game on April 20, it's time to take stock of the 2013 Tigers and where they stand all over the gridiron.
Every day this week I've put a different position grouping under the microscope, filling out my picks to a set list of seven different categories and providing two numerical ratings.
For Monday's look at the offensive line, CLICK HERE.
For Tuesday's look at the offensive skill players, CLICK HERE.
For Wednesday's look at the defensive line, CLICK HERE.
For Thursday's look at the linebackers, CLICK HERE.
Today, in the finale of the five installments, it's onto the secondary.
Best Player: Craig Loston
It was really, really hard for me not to put Jalen Mills here, or at least include him in a tie, but Loston ultimately gets the nod on seniority and a productive spring. His was one of the first defensive names Les Miles singled out after every scrimmage. Loston, entering his redshirt senior year, also posted six tackles in the spring game and registered the contest's only interception. And, ironically, it was starting safety mate Ronald Martin, not Loston, who succumbed to injury this spring. While Loston missed a practice a week, we found out at the end of spring it was because he had an afternoon class on Tuesdays. So what was perceived as Loston missing for injury was not the case at all. A healthy, durable Loston gets my vote here in a close one.
Best Spring: Corey Thompson
Thompson may not have put up some of the stats Loston did, but the sophomore-to-be safety saw his stock continue to rise this spring. Particularly toward the end of spring ball, when Martin was out, Thompson got to step into starter's shoes and work as the free safety next to Loston. He solidified his spot as the preferred third safety and proved he'll be a suitable replacement to step into either the free or strong spot. The cherry on top: position coach Corey Raymond spent a lot of time talking and thinking the game through with Thompson, one-on-one, as the two stood behind the first-team defense in practice. Raymond knows he'll have to rely on Thompson in 2013 and, after this spring, that doesn't seem like an unwelcome proposition.
Best Young Player: Jalen Mills
As I referenced above, Mills might just prove to be the best and most valuable player in the secondary. After all he was hand-picked by Raymond to man a starting corner position and be the starting nickel back from day one of his true freshman season in 2012. Don't look for his role to be minimized in his sophomore campaign. Before being forced out of spring drills with a shoulder injury, Mills was playing with a lot of confidence in practices and scrimmages. He was, is and will remain LSU's No. 1 cornerback.
Worst Spring: Dwayne Thomas
Spring is a good time to get to know more about young players who previously have not been a part of the two-deep. This spring I think everyone got to know a little more about second-year corners Derrick Raymond and Kavahra Holmes. The two speedsters are adding to their frames and starting to come along. Unfortunately, what I learned about another second-year corner, Thomas, wasn't quite as flattering. He always seems to be nicked, cramping or unable to go for some reason. It was staggering how often Thomas was being stretched out by a trainer during the media-approved portions of practices. This reportedly carried on into many parts of practice where media wasn't allowed, from what I've been told. Bottom line: with real opportunities out there to snag a third corner or dime back job, Thomas will have to show more toughness to be seriously considered.
Banged Up: Jalen Collins, Jalen Mills, Ronald Martin
Mills' injury, as is evident by the above picture, is to his right shoulder. He wasn't seen in the sling until the first practice back from spring break, which makes it most plausible that Mills suffered the injury during the team scrimmage prior to the break. He's already had surgery and word is he'll be fine come August. Martin's injury, per Miles, was a "weight-room injury." The rising junior safety missed the last week or so of practice and the spring game. I haven't heard much in the way of an update on Martin, but it seems like the staff wanted to hold him out for precautionary reasons. Collins' injury is still a bit of an unknown. He too missed the last week or so of practice and sat out the spring game. I have no reason at this point to believe LSU's second starting corner will be anything but ready come Fall Camp.
Don't Forget About: Micah Eugene
One of the weirdest developments in the secondary this spring happened because of a rash of injuries and absences. Eugene, a career safety, took a number of reps at cornerback. Goes to show that the coaches do have some faith in the nickel/dime back's coverage ability. Eugene's primary usage coming into his redshirt sophomore season will still be in the box, giving the Tigers an extra (physical) DB who is effective rushing the passer as a gunner. Even with a lot of new faces coming on board this summer, I still expect Eugene will have a role in five- and six-DB sets in 2013.
Biggest Summer Subject: How good/ready is Tre'Davious White?
I don't project LSU will have many problems at safety this year with starters and depth (see my ratings below). The trio of Loston, Martin and Thompson will carry the Tigers all year, and Jerqwinick Sandolph is a nice option as a fourth safety. Cornerback, however, could be a different story. Beyond Jalen Mills, I'm not sure how reliable the rest are, and that even includes Jalen Collins to a certain extent. With that in mind, many are expecting that White will come in as a true freshman and put a stranglehold on the third corner role and even challenge Collins for the second spot, opposite Mills. Of White's talent I have no doubt, but he'll have to be awfully SEC-ready right away, a la Mills a season ago, to make good on those aspirations and turn corner into a position of strength for LSU. He'll be one of the most important players to monitor in August.
CB Starter Rating (on scale from 1-10): 7
CB Depth Rating: 5.5
S Starter Rating: 7.5
S Depth Rating: 8
Spring Listing: Secondary
Tiger Blitz Top Stories
New Tiger Blitz members receive a great perk!Another great partnership from the folks at Scout.com brings a big benefit to new Tiger Blitz/Scout members!
Tiger Blitz11:18 AM
Game Preview: LSU vs. Ole MissTiger Blitz previews LSU's SEC matchup against rival Ole Miss on Saturday night in Death Valley with predictions, matchups to watch, game notes, and more!
Tiger Blitz4:00 AM
LSU Depth Chart is Settled for Ole Miss gameWith LSU's matchup against Ole Miss looming on Saturday night, coach Ed Orgeron met with the media to update injuries, players making moves on the depth chart and about how big of…
Tiger BlitzYesterday at 4:36 PM
LSU Tigers Linebackers Wish ListTiger Blitz has done some digging and breaks down the top linebacker targets LSU is currently pursuing in the 2017 class.
Tiger BlitzYesterday at 3:00 PM