Which newbie will contribute most on defense?

The Tigers bring in only a handful of defensive signees in the 2015 class. Which fresh face from that group will make the biggest impact this fall?

The most recent signing class for LSU features a whopping 17 offensive players of the total 25-man haul.

And of the remaining eight to ink with the purple and gold, two are special teamers (legacy snapper Blake Ferguson and Aussie punter Josh Growden).

That leaves only six primary defenders blending into the Tigers' roster this summer. Before diving into which one(s) have early playing time potential, here's the list of those six newcomers.

S Jeremy Cutrer
CB Donte Jackson
DE Arden Key
CB Xavier Lewis
CB Kevin Toliver
DE Isaiah Washington

What's most noticeable now is the same thing everyone couldn't stop talking about on National Signing Day -- LSU failed to sign a single linebacker in the class.

That will be rectified in 2016, and those future signees (whoever they are) will have a great platform to play right away with Deion Jones and Lamar Louis entering their final year of eligibility in 2015 and Kendell Beckwith draft-eligible after this season.

Back to this class and this season, there are several players because of turnover in the two-deep that will have the same sort of opportunities the linebackers of next year will.

Chief among them is defensive end Arden Key, one-time South Carolina commitment who can be chalked up as the first recruiting coup of Ed Orgeron's LSU coaching career.

The need is certainly there at end.

The Tigers lost 2014 starters Jermauria Rasco, to graduation, and Danielle Hunter, to the NFL Draft. In line after those two, and expected to begin Fall Camp as first-teamers, are juniors Tashawn Bower and Lewis Neal, both fairly green in terms of SEC experience. The other returning challengers for playing time at end are all second- or third-year players (Maquedius Bain, Deondre Clark and Sione Teuhema).

Key, who registered 15.5 sacks as a senior in high school, may be hard pressed to leapfrog Bower and Neal, but it's very conceivable that the 6-foot-6, 215-pound pass rusher can compete favorably with the rest and get to the field plenty in year one.

Former D-Line coach Brick Haley wasn't always a fan of getting the true freshmen on the field early, but something tells me Coach O won't sweat a detail like that as much, particularly not for a guy he personally recruited.

Of the five remaining defensive newcomers, two (possibly three) of the defensive backs figure to have the best chance to make an impact in their debut campaigns. They are: Donte Jackson, Kevin Toliver and maybe Jeremy Cutrer.

Oddly enough Jackson, a three-phase threat, could make his mark most significantly on offense and special teams this season. That's not to say he won't play defensively, but his days in a defense-first role are likely in 2016 and beyond, once the likes of Tre'Davious White, Jalen Mills and Dwayne Thomas move on from the program.

Toliver is an interesting piece, as his head coach would say. He came in from Florida with a world of hype, and as an early enrollee this spring Toliver learned how far he'll have to come to earn a starting nod.

He'll enter Fall Camp in August behind White and Ed Paris on the cornerback depth chart. Toliver will still have a chance to play in nickel and dime situations in year one, but there's no shortage of competition for those spots (Thomas, Jackson, Rickey Jefferson and possibly the next guy mentioned).

Cutrer is listed on LSU's official site as a safety, but the JuCo signee - who was once in the Tigers' 2013 commitment class - will probably get his first look at corner, if for no other reason than the secondary has a wealth of safeties in tow.

At 6-foot-3 Cutrer has the kind of length defensive backs coach Corey Raymond loves. If he can impress in August and get up to speed, don't count Cutrer out of the race for playing time in sub-package situations.

When it's all said and done, if you were rushing to the window to lay your money down on one of these six, it would be Key. And it's likely the odds wouldn't be that great.



Tiger Blitz Top Stories