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).
Today the countdown reaches its only redshirt senior at No. 28, defensive tackle Quentin Thomas.
REASON FOR OPTIMISM
No other Tiger will be as experienced in the program as Thomas. Technically there is one other redshirt senior on the roster in offensive lineman Jonah Austin, but Thomas figures to be a more integral, involved member of the two-deep. He’s been around long enough that Thomas was on the 13-1 SEC championship team in 2011, a last remaining direct connection to players at his position (now in the pros) like Michael Brockers and Bennie Logan.
The 6-foot-4, 303-pounder from Breaux Bridge has played in 25 career games for the purple and gold, making four starts, including three last season before injuries became too big a factor and young pup Davon Godchaux proved ready to take over.
There’s also the train of thought that Thomas, who’s at a position that desperately needs platoon players behind starters Godchaux and Christian Lacouture, will be fairly well-rested. He played in 11 of 13 games in 2014 as a redshirt junior but sat out all of spring camp, allowing injuries to both biceps to heal and not rushing back under new defensive line coach Ed Orgeron. Thomas will be counted on to give quality time this fall as the senior member of the defensive front.
STILL LEFT TO PROVE
For all his time in the program, Thomas hasn’t exactly produced at a high clip, always buried on the depth chart behind the likes of Brockers, Logan, Josh Downs, Ego Fergson, Anthony Johnson and now Godchaux and LaCouture. Although he’s participated in 25 games, Thomas has made just 19 total tackles (nine in each of the last two seasons). For a little perspective former LSU linebacker Kevin Minter made 20 tackles in a 2012 game at Florida by himself.
Then there’s the injury bug, one that Thomas has unfortunately known all too well lately. A tough player, Thomas struggled through the pain of a torn bicep at the beginning of last season, starting three games early in the campaign. Ironically he ended up sustaining an injury to the other bicep in-season, causing him to miss two games. Thomas sat out spring, still recuperating, and is expected to be a full go in August’s Fall Camp, but it’ll be interesting to see how he respond post-rehab.
If Thomas can get away from these nagging injuries and stay healthy, he’s got a chance to give meaningful snaps and clog running lanes as the third defensive tackle for Orgeron. Especially in light of Trey Lealaimatafao’s recent off-the-field transgressions, LSU is searching for bodies after its two projected starters.