In advance of the Tigers kicking off Fall Camp, TSD's Ben Love and Hunter Paniagua will answer a question a day this week on the 2013 squad.
Today's Question: On offense and defense, who does LSU need the biggest impact from amongst the newcomers?
Ben Love: Nothing like providing two names to a question that only asks for one, but, in this instance, I'll be that guy. LSU doesn't seem to need any of its newcomers to step in right away as the Tigers have veterans all over the line and at skill positions on offense. But, I'm getting the feeling there are two freshmen who will eventually be called upon due to either injury to the starter or possibly lack of performance. Those two: QB Anthony Jennings and OL Ethan Pocic. In Jennings' case, he was never going to redshirt after an impressive spring camp, but, should Zach Mettenberger have any recurrence with his back (something he had a procedure for several months ago), the timetable will be moved up on Jennings. He may currently be third string, but I'm not sure how long that will last. As for Pocic, there was a reason Greg Studrawa and Les Miles took a very vested interest in his development at center this spring. Not only is there a scary lack of depth at center in 2013, but the staff wants an insurance policy in the event that Elliott Porter is not SEC-ready. They know Pocic will be one day, but the question now is how early will he be needed to play a position still fairly new to him.
Hunter Paniagua: LSU may not need the biggest contribution from TE Desean Smith, but he may be the one providing it on the offensive side of the ball. For years we've expected the tight end position to finally get its time to shine in LSU's offense. This year that may actually happen. Cam Cameron has come in and promised to spread the ball around to multiple receivers, the backs and most importantly for Smith — the tight ends. He has exceptional ability as a wide receiver, fitting that mold perfectly. The trio of Richard Dickson, Logan Stokes and Dillon Gordon didn't wow anybody in the spring, so there's a role open for Smith if he can take it during camp. To go along with all the weapons at WR, Smith will be a great mismatch against linebackers and could be a dangerous piece to the passing game.
Ben Love: It's hard not to think of the defensive line when first seeing this question. Going into Fall Camp, it's a given that at least one true freshman will be called upon to play legitimate minutes in the rotation at both end and tackle. So while as many as six names could apply here, I feel defensive end Tashawn Bower will have the biggest impact in 2013. There are already rumblings that Frank Herron is dealing with a knee situation, so that makes Bower (6-foot-5, 241 pounds) an even more important cog. He's got the type of frame and body that scream NFL, and all reports from summer workouts have been positive surrounding Bower. While Lewis Neal will give him competition, look for Bower to play double-digit snaps as early as the opener versus TCU. LSU's got a big need at defensive end, and one of these freshman – if not two – has to fill it.
Hunter Paniagua: All nine of the CBs on the LSU roster (including Rashard Robinson) will be sophomores or younger in the 2013 season. While that youth could be troubling at times, it does provide an opportunity for Tre'Davious White to step in and contribute right away. Aside from Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins, every player in front of White is just as inexperienced as him, so he is playing on an almost even playing field. Derrick Raymond and Kavahra Holmes also showed this spring that they still have room to grow before they can be consistently counted on. That definitely leaves a role in LSU's nickel and dime packages that White can compete for immediately, and if either Collins or Mills doesn't show improvement from their respective freshman seasons, White could earn a spot in the starting lineup.
Which freshmen do you think LSU will rely on in 2013?