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 begins a third week with its fifth true freshman so far at No. 40, wide receiver Tyron Johnson.
REASON FOR OPTIMISM
On sheer talent level alone Johnson is easily among the top LSU signees in 2015. A highly coveted wide-out from Warren Easton, Johnson is to the Tigers’ offensive signing class what defensive end Arden Key (No. 42 on our countdown) is on the other side of the ball – an athletic freak with gobs of potential who enters the college ranks fresh off a wildly productive prep career.
Check out Johnson’s stats over the last two seasons at Warren Easton: In 2013, as a junior, he tallied 87 receptions for 1,433 yards and 17 touchdowns. To follow that up as a senior, Johnson hauled in 94 passes for 1,589 yards and 17 more touchdowns through the air. So he comes into the program quite used to making an impact and routinely catching footballs, a lot like Trey Quinn this time a year ago (except with a lot more ability to stretch the field vertically).
Johnson, who might figure in as a special teams returner, possesses good size, too, at 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds. He’s been likened by a number of recruiting analysts to Odell Beckham Jr. at this stage in his development. Time will tell if he’s able to reach that lofty status, or develop hands anywhere in OBJ’s extra-terrestrial range, but considering Johnson’s even being mentioned in that realm, you know he’s one to watch from day one in the purple and gold.
STILL LEFT TO PROVE
The difference between Johnson and someone like Key is that there’s a lot more proven depth at wide receiver than there is at defensive end this fall in Baton Rouge. And that is far and away Johnson’s biggest hurdle to nabbing major playing time as a true freshman.
It helps that he has versatility, able to play inside as a slot receiver or on the outside, but in either spot Johnson will have to leapfrog a veteran (or two). The top two projected receivers for LSU in 2015 are pretty locked in with redshirt junior Travin Dural and sophomore Malachi Dupre. After that John Diarse figures to command time as a slot receiver while Quinn is back for year two and D.J. Chark is emerging after a strong spring camp.
Johnson has the tools to compete favorably with just about every name on that list, with the possible exceptions of Dural and Dupre, but he’ll have to show he can do it beginning this summer given that he was not an early enrollee. He’ll also have to strike a chord, rhythm-wise, with the Tigers’ two signal callers, something even experienced wide-outs have had a tough time doing over the last year and change.