Spring Preview: Wide Receivers

With the return of Brandon LaFell, the LSU wide receiver corps is minus just one Tiger from the 2008 team. Losing Demetrius Byrd to graduation, wide receivers coach D.J. McCarthy is sitting on both veteran and unproven talent heading into the spring. What will the depth chart look like on Sept. 5 after the shakedown that is to come over the next few months?

Note: This is part three of a series that takes a look at each position heading into spring camp.



Projected Spring Depth Chart


Wide Receiver

1 –    Brandon LaFell       6-3, 209, Sr.   Houston (Texas)

80 – Terrance Toliver     6-4, 194, Jr.    Hempstead (Texas)

86 – Chris Mitchell          6-0, 179, Sr.   Marrero (La.)

43 – Tim Molton             6-3, 173, Fr.    Montz (La.)

28 – R.J. Jackson            6-0, 204, Sr.   Houston (Texas)

19 – Deangelo Peterson  6-3, 199, So.   Baton Rouge (La.)

16 – Jhyryn Taylor          5-11, 174, Fr.  Franklinton (La.)

21 – Chris Tolliver           6-1, 179, Fr.   Rayville (La.)

8 –    Trindon Holliday      5-5, 164, Sr.   Zachary (La.)


Tight End

18 – Richard Dickson      6-3, 246, Sr.    Ocean Springs (Miss.)

83 – Mitch Joseph           6-5, 261, So.    New Iberia (La.)

82 – Matt Branch            6-6, 246, Fr.     Monroe (La.)


46 –  Tyler Edwards         6-3, 234, Fr.    Monroe (La.)

85 – Alex Russian             6-4, 239, So.   Round Rock (Texas)


A Look Back


The production of the Tiger wide receiving corps fell victim to poor quarterback play last season, seeing sophomore Jarrett Lee struggle to find his rhythm after taking over the team in their Southeastern Conference opener.


Brandon LaFell returns after leading the Tigers in catches (63), yards (929) and touchdowns (8) in 2008.


Demetrius Byrd, whose production took a big hit following his junior season, pulled in 37 passes for 513 yards and four touchdowns.  


The Miami-native’s output was nearly matched by Richard Dickson from his tight end spot, catching 31 passes for 324 yards and four scores. The Ocean Springs standout was the only Tiger tight end to catch a pass on the year.

Terrance Toliver showed signs of what Tiger fans can expect next season, pulling down 22 catches for 257 yards and a touchdown. The Houston-native’s most impressive outing came against Ole Miss, seeing the six-foot-four, 195-pound wide out haul in five passes for 35 yards and a touchdown.


After a slow start for his fist two years, Chris Mitchell recorded the first two scores of his career with LSU, pulling down touchdown grabs at both Auburn and Florida. The six-foot, 180-pounder totaled eight catches for 115 yards on the season.


Spring Forward


It should be of no wonder who the go-to-guy at wide out will be for head coach Les Miles in 2009, regardless of which number he has under center.


LaFell should fit into the role of leader once more, seeing him take to that helm as a junior while the Tigers worked through struggles at quarterback. While many expected Byrd to step into that role, the experience as the unit’s leader should carry LaFell a long way in the upcoming season.


Moving into a secure spot on the field for the first time, Tolliver’s production should see a big increase, as well. Working as the No. 2 man opposite LaFell this spring, getting his timing down with the quarterbacks will be priority number one.

Chris Mitchell

Mitchell, Tim Molton and R.J. Jackson look to battle for the third spot in LSU’s 3-wide sets. Mitchell, a six-foot, 179-pound receiver, has good hands and experience that McCarthy will look to build upon over the coming months. If the Marrero-native can continue on his current path, he should be able to lock the three spot up.


Jackson, who remains one of the Tigers’ most efficient special team’s players, is often referenced as the Bayou Bengals’ most dynamic athlete.


Still, Jackson has yet to find his groove in the lineup, making the switch from running back to receiver in 2007. With two seasons under his belt at the position, though only in a reserve role, the Houston-native should be ready to get onto the field in 2009. His talent is there, but will the former Texas First Team All-State athlete put it together before graduation?


One big obstacle that could make things tough for Jackson is the emergence of Tim Molton.


Molton drew rave reviews from the coaches for what he did on the practice fields last fall and Les Miles is expecting big things from the redshirt freshman.


All eyes will be on the other two redshirt freshmen as well – Chris Tolliver and Jhyryn Taylor – and it would not be surprising to see one of them as the fifth receiver by the end of spring.


LSU needs to find a way to get Trindon Holliday more touches this season after playing a reserved role in last year’s offense despite being at full strength. Carrying the ball just 21 times for 114 yards, and catching a pair of passes, Holliday’s production has nowhere to go but up.


The senior speedster, who is tabbed as one of the fastest men in college football, did not touch the ball in three of the Tigers’ games. That will need to change in 2009 if LSU hopes to tap the Zachary-native’s potential before he heads to the professional track circuit.

Richard Dickson

Richard Dickson will remain the Tigers’ lone receiving threat at tight end, entering his senior season ready to lock up the title of a four-year starter in one of the nation’s toughest conferences.


While LSU has a trio of younger blocking tight ends ready to make their mark on the field, there has been some talk that Deangelo Peterson could get some looks at that position this coming spring.


Peterson at tight end in some sets would be an experiment if it happened, but it may not be needed with the depth that LSU has.


Mitch Joseph looks to be that blocking tight end that LSU has had in the past, but he will be pushed by Matt Branch and Tyler Edwards.


Edwards will play some fullback/H-back in the spring which would open the door for Branch to challenge Joseph and give Alex Russian a shot at some snaps.


The wide receivers and tight ends are certainly talented, but much of the talent is unproven on the big stage. While the spring is far from being on the center stage it will prepare these youngsters for what the fall will bring.



Two Burning Questions Heading into the Spring


1)  How far can Terrance Toliver take his game?


After the Tigers snatched Toliver out of Texas, despite the best efforts of the Florida Gators, Miles knew he had hit it big. The six-foot-four, 194-pound prospect had pro-potential written all over his game.


Toliver hauled in ten passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns during his 2007 run, earning Freshman All-SEC honors.


In 2008, he more than doubled his catch total (22), yet remained on par with the previous season in yardage (257) and saw his end zone production fall (1 TD).

Terrance Toliver

Now, the Hempstead-native takes to spring camp with hopes of breaking out as the Tigers’ second option at receiver. His height will benefit him against smaller corners but he needs to add some weight to his frame, and his hands and speed should take him a long way. Without the pressure to break into the lineup on his shoulders, the junior should see his numbers spike as he relaxes into his role.


Yet, can he transform his game from a one-week wonder into a consistent threat on Saturdays? Time will tell, but he will need more than a breakout game against the Rebels to turn heads in 2009.


2)  What receiver will make a surprise jump for playing time in 2009?


One Tiger to keep an eye on in spring camp is Tim Molton. The six-foot-three, 173-pound receiver redshirted last season, bringing him into live action for the first time since his days with the Destrehan Wildcats.


Of course, with fellow Wildcat Jordan Jefferson expected to be under center, Molton should remain on the same page as the Tigers’ quarterback at all times.


As a senior, Molton pulled in 44 of Jefferson’s passes for 912 yards and 11 touchdowns en route to earning a 5A State Championship. Of course, the Montz-native shared the spotlight with both Arkansas running back Jerico Nelson and Tulsa wide receiver Damaris Johnson, often leaving Molton overlooked.


As for his game, Molton is very smooth with his routes, often making his cuts look effortless. With a unique body control of his bigger frame, he should make an immediate impact with his size alone. After adding weight over his redshirt season, nothing but depth should be in Molton’s way in 2009.


He will need to work on his physicality, both getting off of the line and blocking down field. He has what it takes to make an impact with the ball in his hands, but proving that he can do all the little things correctly will need to be shown before he will be awarded with playing time.


If he can iron out the wrinkles in spring practice, Molton should open Tiger fans’ eyes in the coming season.


Editor's Note: Jared Mitchell was not referenced in this preview because he will not participate in any spring practices due to baseball. We also feel that he will forgo his senior year at LSU due to major league baseball, but that will not be decided on until the June draft.

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