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.
For these final five days I’ll roll out my top 25 players for the upcoming season, bringing you five players a day through Friday. When it comes to criteria, the list was assembled based on a combination of talent and expected impact. It should also be noted that I’m including Jalen Mills in the mix, if for no other reason than to show what his value to this team normally would be.
Enjoy, and be sure to let me know how you feel about the rankings via the link at the bottom of the story.
25. QB Anthony Jennings
- So far, LSU Nation, there are really only three things you know about Jennings when the lights come on, and two of them aren’t good. What was extremely positive: The way he spearheaded an incredible 99-yard comeback drive to beat Arkansas. The far less than stellar: His 7-of-19 performance for 82 yards and an interception versus Iowa followed up by his spring game line – 9-of-17 for 157 yards, one touchdown and two pick-sixes. I believe Jennings (6-2, 211) is playing catch-up with freshman Brandon Harris in the race to be the starting quarterback, and the sophomore from Marietta, Ga., will have to boost his confidence up to the level it was at prior to the bowl game to compete. The talent is there, though.
24. DT Quentin Thomas
- There’s a common theme surrounding a lot of this 2014 team that Thomas embodies – it’s finally his time. A redshirt junior, Thomas (6-3, 290) is moving into a starting role this fall after sitting in line and learning from the likes of Michael Brockers, Bennie Logan, Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson. Last season the Breaux Bridge native played in 11 games, starting once, and finished with nine tackles, two pass break-ups and a fumble recovery. Much more will be expected this campaign with increased playing time, but Thomas will have to earn it, showing off just how much he’s learned in three years as an understudy.
23. LB Lamar Louis
- Louis, who makes it back-to-back products of Breaux Bridge High School, is a tough one to gauge heading into the season. A year ago he backed up D.J. Welter at middle linebacker, occasionally coming in to spell Welter en route to 25 total tackles and a fumble recovery. Now entering his junior season, Louis (6-0, 216) has moved over to the strongside, where he’s expected to start next to Welter and opposite Kwon Alexander. Louis is known as a hard-hitter and should give the defense some run-stopping prowess near the line of scrimmage, but he’s also being thrown into the deep end as a starter for the first time in his LSU career. Here’s betting he swims, but just how well and how quickly he picks it up are things we’ll have to watch unfold.
22. TE Dillon Gordon
- Of the five players on today’s portion of the countdown, Gordon easily had the biggest impact in 2013. The 6-foot-5, 286-pounder played in all 13 games, starting 12 times, and was a mainstay in the Tigers’ single-tight sets. Obviously with his size, Gordon can be dominant in the run-blocking game, more or less a sixth linemen. But he still possesses pretty good agility and reliable hands for a big man, reeling in six passes for 88 yards last season. He’s a projected starter again in 2014, but there’s more competition at the position with a total of six scholarship tight ends on the roster. Gordon’s might not be a sexy game, but his presence is felt when he steps between the lines for LSU.
21. S Ronald Martin
- On the brink of his senior season, Martin (6-1, 218) is the likely starter at strong safety. He’s been through a whirlwind of situations and depth-chart positioning during his stay on campus, losing a redshirt late in his freshman season of 2011 before starting eight times the past two falls. Martin, and secondary coach Corey Raymond, are hoping this season will feature a lot less fluctuation in his standing, with Jalen Mills already having put LSU’s safety situation in flux. Martin, who played in only eight games in 2013 due to injury, compiled 38 tackles, one interception, five passes defended and a forced fumble.