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 July 11, three days before the unofficial kickoff to football season at SEC Media Days.
TODAY'S SESSION: WHO WEARS 18?
It's a great debate to have around this time every offseason in LSU football – Which player should wear the coveted No. 18 jersey this fall?
Put another way: Which returning veteran has earned that level of respect from his peers? Below are the guys that jump off the page at me, seniors capable of taking on that leadership mantle and being the next in line, after Lamin Barrow, to don 18.
I'll make the case for each then supply what I think will ultimately be the answer.
Candidate No. 1: RB Terrence Magee
- That number has made two stops in the backfield before in Jacob Hester and Richard Murphy, and Magee, a senior from Franklinton, possesses a similarly strong character. The other thing going for Magee: After toiling in the background for the first two years of his LSU career, he really made waves in 2013 as a junior, providing a great change of pace to Jeremy Hill and thriving in Cam Cameron's offense. The players know they can count on him, as does the staff, which has moved him as needed from running back to receiver and back again during his time on campus. Definitely a selfless player.
Candidate No. 2: S Ronald Martin
- Speaking of places the No. 18 has been before, we arrive at safety, where Brandon Taylor took it for a twirl three seasons ago in 2011. Martin may not have quite that level of respect from his peers, but he's been through some battles at LSU, having shed a redshirt late in that same '11 season due to depth problems and played intermittently ever since. The senior from White Castle also endured through a tragic event in his life last season – the passing of his father during football season. Martin is well on his way to starting at safety, whether Jalen Mills is back or not, so he'll have the type of platform to lead in the back of the Tiger secondary.
Candidate No. 3: DE Jermauria Rasco
- This would be a first time for the digits to be worn by a defensive end, although Bennie Logan did sport No. 18 at his defensive tackle spot for the 2012 campaign. Rasco has been a reliable player at his position since his true freshman season, when he came in sparingly for the '11 SEC championship team. In 2014 he'll be back from offseason shoulder surgery to resume his starting role. The senior from Evangel isn't always the loudest or most vocal player, but he lets his play on the field do his talking. He's got respect in the locker room.
Candidate No. 4: LB D.J. Welter
- Welter, like Barrow last season, is a projected starting linebacker coming into his redshirt senior season, meaning he's been with the program longest as a fifth-year guy. The Crowley native has some other things stacked in his corner, too: His communication and leadership skills, which also keep him on the field at Mike ‘backer, and the fact that he bided his time at LSU for three years before entering his current role. Those types of players (and their longevity) are usually celebrated, and for understandable reasons, in the Les Miles era. He might be the ultimate program guy.
Others: La'el Collins, Elliott Porter
- The truth is some of LSU's best leadership resides on the offense line in 2014. But the other fact is, unlike I'm somehow mistaken, offensive linemen legally can't wear a jersey in that number range. So that rules out the likes of Collins and Porter, seniors who figure to bring a tremendous amount of experience and motivation to an offensive line that projects as a major strength of the Tigers' team.
Ultimately, who will it be?
- I imagine it'll be Welter. There aren't really any bad choices among the group above, but he's probably the senior that's been around and experienced the most in the program. Plus he's handled outside scrutiny with aplomb and already supplies a ton of leadership and direction to LSU's defense. Here's guessing it's the redshirt senior middle linebacker.