Publisher's Notes: Every weekday until the LSU football team reports for Fall Camp on Sunday, Aug. 4, TSD will unveil another player in our top 50 Tigers for the 2013 season. We arrived at this list by combining individual rankings from TSD's Austin Cooper, Ben Love and Hunter Paniagua. For example, a player who received a No. 1 vote got 50 points, a No. 2 vote got 49 points, and so on. Every player who received votes had his points totaled across all three individual lists, and the result was our final TSD ranking. All players, including incoming signees, were eligible for selection.
No. 9 – CB Jalen Mills
The highest-rated cornerback on TSD's top 50 countdown, sophomore Jalen Mills enters 2013 fresh off a memorable debut season. In his first year in TigerTown, the DeSoto, Tex., native immediately grabbed a starting corner role and also distinguished himself as the best nickel back replacement for Tyrann Mathieu. In 2012 Mills started all 13 games, made two interceptions, had five pass breakups and registered 57 tackles (fourth most on the team). He was named a Freshman All-America First-Team selection by multiple outlets.
Now, as a sophomore, Mills' role within the LSU defense will continue to expand. With Tharold Simon no longer around, Mills (6-foot, 185 pounds) will take over as the Tigers' lead cornerback. It also seems likely he'll continue to drop into the box for many nickel and dime packages. Just about the only drawback for Mills is the fact that he had to undergo shoulder surgery in the spring. All indications to date are that he'll be ready to go for Fall Camp and the start of the season. He's an extremely important piece to the Tigers' defensive plans in 2013.
By The Numbers
Mills' highest ranking: 7th
Mills' lowest ranking: 18th
Why this ranking is too high
Once you get into this stage of a countdown, everybody can play and is a serious contributor to the team. Just look at the three names that came off the board before Mills – QB Zach Mettenberger (No. 12), OG Trai Turner (No. 11) and WR Odell Beckham Jr. (No. 10). It could be argued that one or more of those guys belongs ahead of Mills. Other than that kind of nitpicking, only the shoulder injury this spring serves to count against Mills' momentum entering his sophomore season.
Why this ranking is too low
The guy virtually did it all in his first year on campus. He locked down an island as the team's second corner. He went into the box and guarded slot receivers and also rushed the passer. He finished the season with more tackles than any LSU defender except Kevin Minter and Lamin Barrow, two linebackers, and Eric Reid, a great-tackling safety. He covered kicks and punts all the while. If that's what he did fresh out of high school, the sky's the limit for Mills as his LSU career continues.
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View TSD's Top 50 to date
No. 9 - Jalen Mills
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