LSU has developed a reputation as one the toughest and most aggressive defensive backfields in the country.
One big reason for that swagger was safety LaRon Landry.
For four years Landry patrolled the Tigers secondary making his presence felt.
With the All-American Landry and three-year starter Jessie Daniels gone, defensive coordinator Bo Pelini said LSU has the talent and experience to bounce back and remain one of the top defensive teams in the land.
"We feel like we have the talent there to make the replacement," Pelini said. "We have the guys in place to get everything done that we need to get done."
Filling in as strong safety will be senior Craig Steltz.
The 6-2, 204-pound Steltz has seen significant playing time in his four years in purple and gold and even tied for the team lead in interceptions in 2006 with four and finished seventh in tackles with 42.
"At the end of the year we felt like Craig Steltz was a third starter anyway," Pelini said. "We feel real good about the strong safety spot."
The experienced Steltz should take over the role of "Quarterback of the Defense" after being recognized with the Mike Miley Award in the spring for outstanding leadership on defense.
The honor of replacing Landry at free safety will belong to vastly improved junior Curtis Taylor from Franklinton.
The 6-3, 204-pound
Another possibility at safety is incoming freshman phenom Chad Jones.
The five-star prospect, Jones, comes to LSU as the No. 1-rated safety in the nation by Scout.com.
Jones is a big body at 6-3, 222-pounds and if he decides to go to LSU instead of playing professional baseball, he could see the field immediately and make fans forget about Landry sooner-than-later.
"We feel good about the guys who are stepping up to take (Landry's) place," Pelini said.
Zenon burst onto the scene in his first season as a starter last year recording three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) in the Tigers first two games.
A year ago, LSU got an extremely
pleasant surprise when cornerback Jai Eugene chose to stay in-state over heading
"We have some inexperience as far as the backups are concerned, but Jai Eugene is a guy who's gonna be a heck of a football player in time," Pelini said.
Depending on whether Pelini wants a true corner in the spot or a more hard-hitting, physical-type player will decide who gets the job.
Either way, Pelini does not seem too worried.
"It's gonna take some time to see who's gonna step up to be that third corner and really the fourth corner, but I think that will all play out in time," Pelini said. "But the talent is there. The competition will be great and I think it will make us all better in the long-run."
Jonathan Zenon (19)
2007 DEFENSIVE BACKS
4 Jai Eugene CB 5-
14 Ron Brooks DB 5-11 180 Fr. HS Irving,
16 Craig Steltz S 6-2 204 Sr. 2L
19 Jonathan Zenon DB 6-0 176 Sr. 2L Breaux
21 Chevis Jackson DB 6-0 190 Sr. 3L
23 Stefoin Francois DB 6-1 200 Fr. HS
24 Harry Coleman S 6-2 205 So. 1L
25 Phelon Jones DB 5-11 195 Fr. HS Mobile,
27 Curtis Taylor DB 6-3 204 Jr. 2L
29 Chris Hawkins DB 6-1 181 So. 1L
31 John Williams CB 5-11 175 Fr. HS Breaux
44 Danny McCray S 6-1 205 So. 1L
INSIDE THE HUDDLE
Returning Starters: CB Jonathan Zenon, CB Chevis Jackson
Departed Starters: FS LaRon Landry, SS Jessie Daniels
Projected New Starters: FS Curtis Taylor, SS Craig Steltz
Wildcard: Jai Eugene's arrival at LSU
was shrouded in controversy. After de-committing from
Rising Star: Sophomore Danny McCray took his lumps last season as a freshman. However, the extremely physical 6-1, 205-pound safety was impressive during spring drills and is now in the two-deep.
Top NFL Prospect: With his speed and
Chevis Jackson (21)
TIGER RAG LAGNIAPPE
It caused quite a stir when