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 rolls on to an exciting young pass rusher at No. 38, sophomore defensive end Sione Teuhema.
REASON FOR OPTIMISM
How about that Teuhema bloodline? There are actually three pairs of brothers on this 2015 LSU team, including Leonard and Lanard Fournette as well as the deep-snapping brother combo of Reid and Blake Ferguson. But true freshman Maea Teuhema (No. 50) and his older brother Sione are the only brethren both strong enough to make this top-50 countdown on their own merits.
Sione Teuhema showed promise in his year-one campaign in 2014, but that potential only flashed in small windows. It flashed brightest late in the game versus Sam Houston State, when Teuhema registered both of his sacks on the season, setting the Bearkats back 19 combined yards and serving notice that Teuhema has great speed coming off the edge.
The staff, and former defensive line coach Brick Haley, saw enough from Teuhema early in the fall that by the time SEC play came around, he was one of the preferred options to play on the line – actually in the middle at defensive tackle – in Mustang packages involving only three down linemen. The placement was a little out of the norm for the relatively slim Teuhema (6-4, 232), but it was his path to the field as a true freshman and he took advantage of it. Unlike some rookies who play early and fade late in the season, Teuhema played in the final six games for the Tigers in 2014.
STILL LEFT TO PROVE
While Teuhema did factor in to the D-Line rotation as a newbie (no easy task), his production wasn’t exactly through the roof. He played in nine games total, accumulating only five tackles on the season outside of those two sacks versus SHSU. More than anything he was counted on to occupy bodies in the middle of opposing offensive lines on obvious passing downs.
As a sophomore, presumably playing more on the end of the line, Teuhema will be expected to take the next step and convert more of that pressure into quarterback hurries and sacks. He’ll have to show he can do that, and do it better than a mounting list of competition for time at defensive end.
Four different players saw time with the ones at defensive end this spring, and Teuhema, by my count, wasn’t one of them. Juniors Tashawn Bower and Lewis Neal left spring practices as the probable starters while Deondre Clark and Maquedius Bain also got some run with the starters at different points. So the challenge for Teuhema, not likely to be an every-down end this fall, is clear: He must prove he’s the superior pass-rushing option to players like Clark, Neal and incoming freshman Arden Key.