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 a third-year player on the LSU defensive line at No. 37, Maquedius Bain.
REASON FOR OPTIMISM
The biggest reason for optimism surrounding Bain (6-4, 299) is a fresh start twice over. First there’s a new sheriff in town presiding over the defensive line in Ed Orgeron. Coach O has a history of extracting the best from his players in the trenches, and through one bout of spring practices Bain has already spent as much time with the first team and in the playing rotation as he did his first two seasons combined at LSU.
It’s possible the other fresh start could be even more meaningful for the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native. Bain began a move this spring from defensive tackle to end, putting him in a bigger position of need as the Tigers are attempting to backfill for 2014 starters Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco. Bain actually started the spring game, opposite projected 2015 first-teamer Tashawn Bower, in place of the injured Lewis Neal.
Even if Bain doesn’t make it into the top two defensive ends, he stands an excellent chance of making the regular playing rotation, particularly given his size and ability to stop the run (as compared to Neal or maybe Sione Teuhema or freshman Arden Key, all of whom are regarded more as edge pass-rushers). Furthermore, if LSU starts to dabble in some 3-4 fronts under new coordinator Kevin Steele, Bain is just the mold of new defensive end the Tigers would be seeking.
STILL LEFT TO PROVE
Bain is part of a relatively disappointing defensive line Class of 2013. The four-man group also includes Greg Gilmore and Frank Herron, neither of whom has staked claim to playing time yet at defensive tackle entering their redshirt sophomore seasons. About the only one of the four who has panned out to date is Christian Lacouture, set to enter year three as a regular on the interior of the defensive line.
In a big prove-it season, Bain will get the chance – under new coaching and at a new position where the demand for capable bodies is high – to progress more toward the LaCouture end of the spectrum than where Gilmore/Herron currently reside.
A season ago Bain played in 10 games, making no starts, and registered just six tackles and a pass break-up. LSU and Coach O will ask a lot more from the converted defensive tackle in 2015. And the reality is if Bain can’t cut the mustard in his new digs, the Tigers will be in a precarious spot at end, a little on the light side and definitely on the inexperienced side of things.