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 reaches its third true freshman so far in No. 44, cornerback Kevin Toliver.
REASON FOR OPTIMISM
Toliver arrived at LSU as one of the most program’s most celebrated signees in the 2015 class. He was unanimously listed as a five-star prospect by all the major recruiting services, including Scout. His statistics weren’t tremendous, but as a senior he did lead Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.) to a state championship. In his senior campaign Toliver registered three interceptions and 2.5 tackles for loss while also totaling 506 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns.
But the biggest edge for the 6-foot-2, 192-pound cornerback is that Toliver got to experience life and practice on the college level this spring as an early enrollee. His adjustment to a more physical game will continue into Fall Camp in August, but without the five weeks in spring ball, the guess here is that Toliver would’ve been out to sea just showing up with the rest of the freshman pack.
Also aiding Toliver’s cause is a relative shortage of corners coming into this season. With Jalen Collins on to the NFL, Rashard Robinson off the team and Dwayne Thomas likely to be a nickel/dime-only player upon his return from a knee injury, the Tigers need capable bodies on an island. Toliver is on a short list of players that will get a shot to play in the defensive backfield’s substitution packages . . . and possibly as the second corner should injury strike.
STILL LEFT TO PROVE
Like every other true freshman to make this list, there’s everything left to prove at this stage for Toliver. Yes, he got a look this spring, but the reality is he lagged noticeably behind sophomore cornerback Edward Paris (“Ed”), the clear-cut second starter at corner, opposite Tre’Davious White, exiting spring practices and the annual spring game.
So the staff will have to see what Toliver can do when he’s not necessarily the frontrunner. If Toliver can continue to get more physical and buy into what secondary coach Corey Raymond is preaching, he’ll have a legitimate shot at time as a fifth or sixth defensive back in nickel and dime situations.
But even that possibility is no given. More often than not this spring Jalen Mills came down into the box from his free safety spot to be LSU’s nickel back. Backfilling for him at safety was experienced junior Rickey Jefferson. And Dwayne Thomas will be a strong consideration for the Tigers’ dime-back spot, especially after his highly productive start to the 2014 season. It comes as no surprise there’s heavy competition to play at DBU, even for the most coveted signees.