Summer Session: Players 1-5

We're finally here - the best of the best. Here are TSD's selections for the top five players on LSU's team for the 2014 season.

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 this final week I’m rolling out my top 25 players for the upcoming season.

CLICK HERE for numbers 21-25.

CLICK HERE for numbers 16-20.

CLICK HERE for numbers 11-15.

CLICK HERE for numbers 6-10.

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.


5. RB Leonard Fournette

- Never has a true freshman entered LSU with more hype and expectations than Fournette will this fall. But, if we learned anything from his illustrious prep career at St. Augustine, it’s that Buga can handle whatever’s thrown his way. Blessed with a rare combination of size, strength and speed, Fournette (6-1, 224) is at once capable of being a bowling ball and pinball at the running back position. Frank Wilson, Les Miles and the LSU staff thought so much of Fournette they didn’t recruit another back for two years prior to his class, clearing the deck for him. Now, after what feels like a three-year wait, LSU Nation will gladly convert to Buga Nation with Fournette, who will wear the same No. 7 former New Orleanian Tyrann Mathieu donned, toting the rock. The sky is truly the limit for Fournette.

4. CB Tre’Davious White

- From a guy who’s expected to be the top LSU freshman in 2014 to someone who was without question that guy a season ago. In 2013 White (5-11, 177) announced his presence in Baton Rouge with authority, grabbing a starting cornerback spot in week three and running with it the rest of the campaign. The Shreveport native finished his debut season with 39 solo tackles, second most on the team; 2.5 tackles for loss; two interceptions; a team-high nine passes defended; and a forced fumble. Then there’s the fact that White didn’t mind getting his hands dirty on special teams coverage either, playing on the kickoff team from day one. This season, as a sophomore, White could also take over Odell Beckham’s role as kickoff returner. The man who’s earned the nickname “Shaq” may be under 6-foot but his game casts a much bigger shadow.

3. DE Danielle Hunter

- Perhaps no returning player on LSU’s team is expected to make the kind of leap those close to the program project Hunter to make. Not that he was shabby last season, starting 10 of 13 games at defensive end and compiling eight tackles for loss and three sacks. It’s more about how dominant he was in the spring and the continued arc of his development. Entering his junior year Hunter, 6-foot-6 and 241 pounds, has the capability to be the SEC’s best pass-rusher. With senior Jermauria Rasco back in the fold on the other side, opposing offenses won’t be able to completely shift over toward Hunter, making for one-on-one blocking opportunities that have Brick Haley and John Chavis salivating. Hunter, one of the true physical freaks on the Tigers’ roster, is on the brink of a monster season.

2. LB Kwon Alexander

- It’s finally Kwon’s time. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound linebacker from Oxford, Ala., who Miles has aptly referred to as a “violent tackler,” hasn’t been completely turned loose in his two years on campus. He’s played in 20 games, making 11 starts, but his playing time a season ago never matched that of Lamin Barrow or D.J. Welter. Still Alexander, who like White features on the kickoff coverage team, finished 2013 fourth on the team in tackles (65), fourth in solo tackles (30) and tied for third in tackles for loss (6.5). Now that he’s a bonafide starter, moving over to the weakside to fill Barrow’s shoes, Alexander figures to be an absolute terror for SEC offenses. If he stays healthy, which has occasionally been an issue, Alexander is a 100-tackle candidate and is improving in his coverage skills, meaning Chavis can keep him on the field in two-LB sets. There’s a reason I have him tabbed as LSU’s best defensive player.

1. OT La’el Collins

- During the latest bout of the now-annual exodus of LSU underclassmen to the NFL, Collins’ decision to stick around for his senior season was the biggest coup for Tiger fans. A leader on and off the field, Collins (6-5, 315) brings a wealth of experience to the table, having played in 32 games and made 25 starts in an LSU uniform. Of course there’s also the fact that the Tigers will be breaking in a new quarterback, and Collins just happens to play the most important position on the offensive line – left tackle. The Redemptorist product, who is a solid pass-protector but even better run-blocker, played a total of 808 snaps in 2013 and finished with 65 knockdowns in 12 games. As Collins makes a push toward being an early-round draft pick in April, expect him – and his production – to get even better. This is the kind of cornerstone you can build a team around, and that’s exactly what LSU plans to do this fall.


1. OT La’el Collins

2. LB Kwon Alexander

3. DE Danielle Hunter

4. CB Tre’Davious White

5. RB Leonard Fournette

6. RB Terrence Magee

7. CB Rashard Robinson

8. S Jalen Mills

9. OG Vadal Alexander

10. DE Jermauria Rasco

11. OT Jerald Hawkins

12. WR Travin Dural

13. QB Brandon Harris

14. DT Christian Lacouture

15. WR Malachi Dupre

16. C Elliott Porter

17. TE Desean Smith

18. RB Kenny Hilliard

19. FB Connor Neighbors

20. LB D.J. Welter

21. S Ronald Martin

22. TE Dillon Gordon

23. LB Lamar Louis

24. DT Quentin Thomas

25. QB Anthony Jennings

Next four up: LB Kendell Beckwith, DE Tashawn Bower, OG Fehoko Fanaika, DB Dwayne Thomas

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