The linebacker corps was not very deep to start the spring with Jacob Cutrera recovering from off-season shoulder surgery but when Perry Riley went down with his foot injury, Bradley Dale Peveto had to scramble to find another guy to play alongside Darry Beckwith and Kelvin Sheppard.
Several players got some much-needed reps in Cutrera and Riley’s absence but no one benefited more than Sheppard.
The sophomore from Georgia has the build of an NFL linebacker at 6-3, 228 pounds, and it looked as if the light came on and he started playing more on instinct and not thinking nearly as much on the field.
Sheppard was one of the recipients of the Alvin Roy Award for his outstanding performance in the off-season conditioning program and it will be interesting to see how much bigger he gets over the next three months.
Prior to injury, Riley and Cutrera were considered by some to be the frontrunners for the vacant linebacker spots but both are going to have a fight on their hands in fall camp at keeping Sheppard off the field.
Cutrera returned to practice at the midway point of camp but was limited to non-contact drills and he and Riley are both expected to be full-speed when August rolls around.
Beckwith is steady as a rock at his middle spot and he will be up for pre-season all-conference honors when the coaches convene for SEC media days in July.
Foyil is another one that looks good on the hoof at 6-3, 229 pounds, as well as Theriot (6-1, 225).
Theriot surprised some with the way he picked up playing linebacker after spending most of his time at quarterback and a little at safety in high school but one has to wonder if he will be the heir apparent to Quinn Johnson’s fullback spot after he graduates.
One of the big disappointments to come out of spring practice was the off the field incident Shomari Clemmons was involved in which made him miss the final week of the spring.
LSU can’t afford to lose any players at this position but we expect Clemmons to be back in good graces with the team for summer conditioning workouts.
Spring Game Performance
The only three linebackers on scholarship or on the two-deep chart to participate in the spring game were Darry Beckwith, Kelvin Sheppard and Kellen Theriot.
Beckwith finished with one solo tackle while Sheppard made his mark with four stops, including one for a loss, and he also broke up a pass.
Theriot provided the second team defense with a spark as he collected three solo tackles with one of them behind the line of scrimmage. The true freshman out of Houston showed some good instincts and got to the ball well.
Theriot could be one of the true freshmen that gets some playing time in 2008 and he has that look of a special teams killer that will fly down the field and hit anyone and everyone he can get a hat on.
Several players have made their mark on special teams as a freshman and Theriot could do the same in the upcoming campaign.
The medical staff will be busy this summer getting Perry Riley and Jacob Cutrera up to full speed for fall camp, and Bradley Dale Peveto will welcome incoming freshmen Ryan Baker and Kyle Prater with open arms.
Baker and Prater will be in the mix as soon as they step on campus because depending on what happens with Shomari Clemmons one or both could find themselves sitting on the two-deep when Les Miles finalizes his depth chart heading into the Appalachian State contest.
LSU’s defensive line is going to have to help the young linebackers while they get acclimated to starting in the SEC and if there is one area on this 2008 team that can’t afford any injuries then it is Peveto’s troops.
An injury or two and this group could be in for a long season in 2008.
TSD.com Projected Depth Chart Heading Into Fall Camp