While the Tigers are gone, TSD is running a story per weekday on breakout candidates for 2015.
These players may be new to the program, fresh off a redshirt or been around and just never had a chance to start. Whatever the case may be, if LSU is to author a successful 2015 campaign, they'll need these five players to break through.
NO. 1 - Deion Jones
"Debo" is a shining example of a program player that bought in during his stay in Baton Rouge. The Jesuit product has been a special teams demon on kickoff coverage during his first three seasons on campus, and Jones is now in line to nab a starting outside linebacker job as a senior.
LSU's quickest, most sudden linebacker weighed 202 pounds as a freshman, but even at 220 pounds currently, he's retained a lot of his speed and quick-twitch movements that have kept his tackling totals high despite limited playing time on defense.
Year One (2012): 23 tackles, 3 TFL, 3 QBHs, 1 FR
Year Two (2013): 15 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QBH
Year Three (2014): 27 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 QBH, 1 FR
Aside from special teams excellence, the other thing that stands out about those numbers are the tackle for loss totals despite his second-team standing at outside 'backer the past few seasons. Jones has a knack for avoiding blockers and getting to ball-carriers in the backfield.
That will serve him well this fall as he projects as the starter at weakside linebacker, backfilling for Kwon Alexander, an early entrant into the 2015 NFL Draft. Aiding Jones are two returning starters to the core - Kendell Beckwith at middle linebacker and fellow senior Lamar Louis on the strongside.
Jones will likely not be asked to drop into coverage often, but it stands to reason he could be an important cog in new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele's pass-rush schemes that figure to include more linebacker pressure than in years past.
He's still not ideal against the run at his weight, but Steele, like John Chavis, believes in attacking the offensive front with speed and numbers, rendering Jones valuable in this system.
While Deion Jones is making the jump from special teams ace to starting linebacker, he's given plenty of reason to suspect he'll make a difference. If nothing else Jones will make a nice compliment to Beckwith and Louis, both thicker players that lack the type of quickness Jones brings to the table.