Summer Top 50 - No. 18 Tashawn Bower

Another projected first-year starter cracks TSD's top 50 countdown of LSU players for 2015. Today, at No. 18, it's junior defensive end Tashawn Bower.

Because everyone loves to rank things, and because summer is the best time to argue and debate, TSD is spending the coming weeks through the end of July rolling out its top 50 LSU football players for the coming season.

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 arrives at a player making the leap from platoon status to first-year starter, junior defensive end Tashawn Bower.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM


There's nothing but opportunity for the returning and incoming defensive ends this fall with the departure of veteran starters Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco, who in 2014 combined for an eye-popping 144 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. So Bower, the most experienced end left, has what looks to be a boatload of playing time (and production) for the taking.

A physically mature player at 6-foot-5 and 237 pounds, Bower has played in 19 games over two years in Baton Rouge. The New Jersey native logged only three tackles in his true freshman season but last fall upped his production to 16 tackles, 2.5 for loss and two quarterback hurries as the third defensive end, rotating in for Hunter and Rasco regularly.

Also, outside of near-300-pounder Maquedius Bain, Bower probably represents the best run-stopping option at end. Sione Teuhema, Lewis Neal and late-arriving newbie Arden Key are all more geared toward rushing the quarterback. Deondre Clark is also a good mixture of both, but he figures to fall in line behind Bower on the depth chart.

STILL LEFT TO PROVE


This is a classic case of playing time being available but knowing in advance that the post is going to be filled with relative inexperience. LSU is virtually starting from scratch at defensive end in 2015. And while Bower represents the most experienced and qualified option on hand, there's no guarantee that he's ready for prime time and to produce in the SEC on a weekly basis.

Something else that could be a thorn in Bower's side (but I don't believe will be) is the change in position coach this offseason. Former D-Line coach Brick Haley was the one who had elevated Bower to third end in 2014. Now the junior must impress anew with Ed Orgeron pulling the reins along the defensive front. It shouldn't change things too much for Bower, but it reinforces that there's no coasting or letting off the gas for the presumed first-year starter.

Finally, and this is likely more of a 2016 issue, should the Tigers slowly begin to shift into a 3-4 defensive front, Bower suddenly wouldn't fit as well at defensive end and could struggle to adjust to life as an outside linebacker, playing without a hand in the dirt. This is all the more reason for him to shine early, ensuring his spot in the current 4-3 alignment and not giving another reason for new coordinator Kevin Steele to flip the page earlier than anticipated.





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