Many are seasoned veterans and a select few are new to the roster, but all 50 Tigers figure to make an impact on the gridiron in 2015.
So we hope you enjoy this list, updated once each weekday and compiled by the TSD staff of Ben Love and Hunter Paniagua (who, naturally, had disagreements of their own along the way).
The countdown continues with its second true freshman already at No. 46, running back Nicholas Brossette.
REASON FOR OPTIMISM
The best news of all for Brossette (6-0, 214) is that position coach Frank Wilson makes a habit of spreading around touches and playing time for multiple backs and that Wilson likes to get freshmen’s feet wet early in their careers. Brossette, a highly productive back at local U-High, will get his chances in 2015 as part of a four-back stable for the Tigers that also includes another new face in Derrius Guice.
Also helping Brossette’s cause is his build and ability to help in the power, short-yardage run game. Without four-year battering ram Kenny Hilliard, Wilson will be looking to fill that role. It’s true sophomores Leonard Fournette and Darrel Williams are big backs in their own right, but part of Hilliard’s effectiveness was remaining fresh and not carrying the brunt of the load early in games and on first- and second- downs. Brossette had a knack for keeping the chains moving in high school, so it’s not inconceivable that he sponge some of what Hilliard used to do for LSU.
Then there’s the injury bug that almost always strikes college backfields. Brossette, and possibly even Guice, figure to enter Fall Camp behind the two veteran backs. But, during the course of a grueling SEC season, history shows guys go down at that position (for LSU in recent years it’s happened to Hilliard and Alfred Blue, just to name two). If and when that comes, the freshmen will loom large for LSU at tailback.
STILL LEFT TO PROVE
First of all there’s the Fournette Factor. Arguably as good a back as there is in the SEC, with the possible exception of Georgia’s Nick Chubb, Fournette is going to command a large chunk of the pie – and football – in LSU’s offense. He could be the closest thing to a bell cow the Tigers have had since Jeremy Hill two seasons ago (and similar to Stevan Ridley in 2010).
Then it’s fair to wonder what Brossette’s place in line is behind Fournette given all the stiff competition amongst the remaining three backs. There may only be four total backs, but all of them arrived at LSU as four-star prospects or better. And the competition between Brossette and Guice, who theoretically offers more of a game-breaker and true change of pace option after Fournette, will be fierce.
Finally there’s the adjustment to the college game Brossette will encounter. Even a force of nature like Fournette took time in his freshman season to figure out how to run the football – and that you can’t hit a home run on every play. The learning curve may be even steeper as the Bayou Bengals travel to Starkville to play Mississippi State and then come home to host Auburn in consecutive weeks in Week Two and Week Three.