Summer Session: Switching Positions

TSD is cranking out 30 stories on the 2014 Tigers in the coming weeks. Today's Summer Session: Which players are transitioning to a new position this fall and how is it affecting the depth chart?

30 days, 30 topics inside the world of LSU football.

TSD is previewing and analyzing the 2014 edition of the Tigers from every angle, bringing you a daily dose of "Summer Session" each weekday through June 11, three days before the unofficial kickoff to football season at SEC Media Days.

TODAY'S SESSION: SWITCHING POSITIONS

It's time to look at the Tigers trading places in advance of the 2014 season, moving to a different position than they played in 2013. I'll take a look at their transitions and where they stand on the depth chart leading into the new campaign.

While the first four began their moves already in spring ball, the fifth "Switch" listed below is more hypothetical, especially given the fact it involves a true freshman yet to hit campus.

SWITCH: Jalen Mills – CB to FS

- Despite what some say, Mills was not a bad cornerback for LSU. Yes, there were rampant communication problems a year ago that often left him pointing fingers. It was a bad look. But the numbers tell a pretty productive story for Mills, who was named to several Freshman All-America teams in 2012. In two years he's totaled 124 tackles, five interceptions and eight pass break-ups. He's started every game since he's been on campus. Now, the real question is: Will he be a better fit for LSU's defense in the back at free safety? There's evidence to support that notion, but ultimately we'll have to wait and see this season. Mills filled in at free safety for much of the Arkansas game in 2013 and started there in the bowl game. With a full spring under his belt, this may prove to be the most influential position change of them all for LSU. Barring something unforeseen, he's the starting free safety.

SWITCH: Lamar Louis – MLB to SLB

- If Mills' move is the biggest individual transition for LSU, consider this the one that has the most important ripple effect. In an effort to get more size and experience on the field at linebacker, coordinator John Chavis moved Louis over and up from where he was in 2013 – over from Mike LB to Sam LB and up from second team to first. Louis, who teammates have taken to calling "Hammer," was the 1-A to D.J. Welter's 1 last fall in the middle, subbing in and playing for blocks of time when Welter struggled. Now Louis, a junior, is lined up next to Welter. The ripple effect? With Louis on the strongside, standout junior Kwon Alexander is swapping sides of the field to the weakside, where he'll be able to fill in for the position Lamin Barrow manned the past two seasons. Now the Tigers boast a senior and two juniors in the corps. Not a bad thing given some of the turnover on the defensive line, specifically at tackle.

SWITCH: Rob Bolden – QB to WR (back to QB?)

- The elusive double switch could be in full effect here. Bolden, who's spent the last two seasons buried on LSU's quarterback depth chart, made the move to receiver this spring. It seems to be the position where he'll have a chance to make an NFL roster, and the Tigers frankly needed some bodies after losing four upperclassmen in the corps. But, with four freshmen receivers coming in for Fall Camp and now only two scholarship signal callers on the roster, Bolden may be heading back under center in 2014. If he doesn't, it shows Cam Cameron is comfortable having a walk-on as the team's emergency quarterback.

SWITCH: Dwayne Thomas – CB to FS

- The situation with Thomas appeared very similar to that of Bolden's in spring practices. LSU needed bodies at safety with Corey Thompson (knee) out for the duration and Ronald Martin in and out with injuries, so Thomas, primarily a dime back a season ago, spent his time in the back instead of at corner. The truth is he's cross-training and can play both, but I'd look for Thomas to be more of a corner come August and into the fall now that Thompson will be back and two newcomers are added to the mix at safety – Jamal Adams and John Battle.

SWITCH: Tony Upchurch from WR?

- This is a guy I just can't stop talking about, partly because when you speak with LSU team sources they're excited about him, too. Upchurch has a chance to do it all in Cameron's offense. He can play out wide, in the slot, at tight end, at H-back and possibly even at fullback. Receivers coach Adam Henry told TSD after spring practices that Upchurch will get his start at receiver but could end up elsewhere. For an offense seeking playmakers post-OBJ/Jarvis/Hill, this should be music to LSU fans' ears. Upchurch is the new jack of all trades for the Tigers.



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