Leading up to kickoff on the Ponderosa, TSD is ranking the 10 best returning LSU players. We’ll take a close look at each Tiger, breaking down his career to this point and projecting impact for the 2015 season.
We’ve already profiled:
No. 4 Jerald Hawkins
Today, at No. 3, we dive into one of the team’s most exciting young players – sophomore safety Jamal Adams.
WHAT HE’S DONE SO FAR
This section for Adams won’t be nearly as long as just about any previous member of the countdown, but in his short window at LSU he’s been as violent and hard-hitting and explosive as any Tiger. Last Fall Camp, when Adams arrived as the top safety in the country and Scout’s No. 8 overall player in 2014, coaches floated out names like Tyrann Mathieu and Eric Berry for comparisons to the five-star prospect. Now the rest of us know why.
Adams progressed throughout his freshman campaign, a special teams-only player at the onset who slowly tacked on more and more defensive time until he was a starter at strong safety in two of LSU’s final games, versus Alabama and at Texas A&M. The Texas native ended the fall with 66 tackles, sixth on the team, five tackles for loss, a sack and five pass breakups.
But the stats don’t really do his season justice. Adams’ impact was felt on bone-crushing tackles, which he dispensed regularly on special teams, even after his defensive duties increased significantly. Adams became not only a regular in the back at safety but spent time near the line of scrimmage in nickel and dime packages, contributing to his healthy TFL total. He was truly a two-phase difference-maker for LSU as a true freshman, instinctively quick to the football.
PROJECTING HIS IMPACT IN 2015
The sky’s the limit for Adams, who should have no more obstacles for playing time now that Ronald Martin’s eligibility has expired. He projects as the Tigers’ starting strong safety opposite senior Jalen Mills.
What will be interesting is monitoring just how frequently new coordinator Kevin Steele opts to use Adams in the box. There are a plethora of safeties, Rickey Jefferson and Corey Thompson to name two, capable and game-savvy enough to take Adams’ place in the back for such ventures. If he truly is Mathieu-like, it would be advisable to get No. 33 close to the football.
Look for Adams to make big jumps in production with the boost in snaps played. He finished sixth in tackles as, for a while, a part-time defensive player and special teams ace. As a starter there’s no reason he can’t finish top two or three on the team in total stops and break into the interceptions category. LSU is looking to get more disruptive on defense in 2015, and this is one of the guys at the heart of those plans.