2002 Football Preview: Defensive Backs

Concluding our breakdown of LSU's defensive personnel.

CB Ronnie Prude

1 Ronnie Prude

6-0 190

Soph. Sqd.

Shreveport Fair Park

 

After sitting out last season as a partial qualifier, Prude is working with the cornerbacks in hopes of getting his first playing time. He spent part of his freshman year with the wide receivers, so a position change would be feasible if he's needed on offense.

A former quarterback at Fair Park, Prude brings an offensive mindset to his position on defense. He is currently worked as third-string cornerback.

 

5 Damien James

5-11     191

Sr.        3VL

Carencro            Carencro HS

 

James takes over the reins of the secondary at free safety after leading the SEC last year with 5 interceptions. He finished his junior campaign with 49 tackles, 4 for losses and 1 sack during the regular season. He also forced 1 fumble and returned a fumble 10 yards vs. Tennessee in championship game.

A shoulder injury has sideline James briefy in fall camp, but he is expected to be ready for the season opener.

 

 

7 Adrian Mayes

6-1       205

Jr.        2VL

Houston            Forest Brook HS

 

Nick Saban gave Mayes a look at weak side linebacker in the spring but brought him back to the secondary by the end of the April. But the experiment was not wasted time, as Mayes seemed to have a better grasp of his responsibilities at safety after gaining a different perspective. His development will be critical when it comes to the Tigers employing some of their multiple DB sets.

Mayes bulked up nicely in the off-season after playing in 12 games as a sophomore. He recorded 11 tackles, all on special teams, forced 2 fumbles and recovered one against Tulane. For his effort in the season opener, he was named Special Teams Player of the Week. 

 

8 Jack Hunt

6-1       189

Jr.        2VL

Ruston  Ruston HS

 

Injuries limited Hunt's playing time at wide receiver in 2001, and coaches decided to bring him over to the defense where he could fill a need. Working with the safeties, Hunt took quickly to the new position in spring practice and is the first nickel back and No. 2 free safety to this point in fall camp.

On defense, Hunt has a better chance to display the tenaciousness that gained him notice as a wingback at Ruston High School.

 

13 Corey Webster

6-0       188

Jr.        1VL

Vacherie            St. James HS

 

Although Webster made some key catches throughout his sophomore year, coaches thought the best use of his abilities was at cornerback. He had practice at the position briefly during the 2001 season for emergency purposes and was committed to the secondary full-time this past spring.

Webster should challenge for playing time at cornerback or could be used as a nickel back. He played in all 13 games in 2001, catching 7 passes for 74 yards during the regular season and two more against Illinois in the Sugar Bowl.

 

21 Randall Gay

5-11     177

Jr.        1VL

Brusly   Brusly HS

 

Gay had limited playing time in 2001 but made the most of his opportunities. For his effort, he will be a starting cornerback this season. What he lacks in size he makes up for in sheer athletic ability.

Gay played in all 13 games with one start last year, lining up as LSU's fifth defensive back vs. Arkansas. In 35 defensive plays vs. Illinois in the Sugar Bowl, he forced 1 fumble, returned a fumble 19 yards to setup an LSU touchdown and had an interception. He also had 5 tackles vs. Tennessee in SEC title game after finishing the regular season with 25 tackles, 1 sack and a pair of interceptions.

 

26 Travis Moses

6-1       192

Jr.        2VL

Gonzales            East Ascension HS

 

The majority of Moses' playing time last season came on special teams, although coaches did turn to him as a second-string safety in certain multiple DB packages. Moses is likely to back up Norman LeJeune at strong safety and could be used again in nickel, dime and dollar formations.

Moses played in all 13 games for the Tigers in 2001 and recorded 13 tackles during the regular season, 8 of which were unassisted. His season best of 3 tackles came vs. Mississippi State.

 

29 Travis Daniels

6-1       175

Soph.   Sqd.

Hollywood, Fla.      South Broward HS

 

Daniels has a permanent spot in the hearts of LSU fans after sacrificing a year of eligibility to help the Tigers in a pinch in the SEC Championship Game. Subbing for the injured Randall Gay, Daniels shunned a possible redshirt to make two key pass break-ups in the end zone that preserved the Tigers' win over Tennessee.

Heading into 2002, Daniels is engaged in a battle for a starting cornerback job with Gay and Demetrius Hookfin. Coaches will turn to him well before the post-season this year.

 

 

33 Demetrius Hookfin

5-11     174

Sr.        3VL

Kentwood            Kentwood HS

 

Hookfin's struggles at cornerback have been well documented, so it is only fair to point out he finished his junior season on a high note. His improvement, along with better play from the entire secondary, gave the Tigers a boost during their late-season six-game winning streak. A starting cornerback's job is Hookfin's to lose heading into 2002.

In 2001, Hookfin was a starter in all 13 games at right cornerback and finished regular season with 55 tackles, 2 of which went for losses. His headline moment in the post-season was the fumble he forced in LSU's win over Tennessee in SEC Championship game. A week earlier, he thwarted Auburn's fake punt with an interception.

 

36 Norman LeJeune

6-1       180

Sr.        3L

Brusly   Brusly HS

 

LeJeune started at strong safety for the last fives games of the 2001 season and will stay in that role this year. Coaches gave LeJeune a try at cornerback early in the season. While he didn't stick there, they discovered LeJeune was one of the more versatile DBs on the team. A neck injury kept him out for three games before he came on strong in the second half of the season.

In all, LeJeune played in 10 games with 7 starts and had 59 tackles with 3 for losses during the regular season. He made 10 tackles against Alabama, Middle Tennessee, Auburn and Ole Miss.

 

NEWCOMERS

 

24 Keron Gordon

6-1       180

Fresh.   HS

Tampa, Fla.            Plant HS

 

Gordon got the attention of recruiters with an outstanding junior season where he turned in solid numbers as a defensive back and punt returner. LSU grabbed his commitment early and hopes to make a college corner or free safety out of him. He suffered a minor knee injury in the first week of fall camp but was looking like a solid prospect at the time.

 

28 Jeff Cook

6-0       195

Fresh.   HS

Rayne   Notre Dame HS

 

A broken leg shortened the senior season for Cook, but he made a lasting impression in guiding Notre Dame to the state finals as a junior. He is also interested in pursuing baseball at LSU. Cook will redshirt this season and look forward to time at safety for the Tigers.

 

38 Vernon Russell

5-11     185

Fresh.   HS

Gramercy            Curtis HS

 

Russell emerged as the best physical corner in Louisiana, and the Tigers lured him to Baton Rouge ahead of Clemson, Michigan, Southern Miss and West Virginia. Nick Saban will no doubt groom him into a contributor in the secondary, most likely at cornerback.

 

39 Troy Hankton

5-10     185

Fresh.   HS

New Orleans            Cohen HS

 

LSU grabbed Hankton away from Tulane just before national signing day. The Tigers will give him a look at cornerback following a redshirt season.

 

WALK-ONS

 

10 Steve Curtis

5-10     175

Soph.   Sqd.

River Ridge            Curtis HS

 

44 Kyle Thompson

5-11     173

Sr.        Sqd.

Monroe            Neville

 

46 Chad White

5-11     204

Jr.        1VL

Hammond            Hammond


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