LSU’s spring drills begin March 9. Recently we took a look at how the offense currently looks. Now let’s take a look at what the defense is promising.
Matt House will orchestrate defense again, but the addition of John Jancek, who handles the outside linebackers, is expected to further strengthen the Tigers.
After a freshman All American campaign, Harold Perkins appears to be the unit’s X-factor. He has the skills that can be used in a variety of ways.
With Ali Gaye, BJ Ojulari, Jaquelin Roy, Jay Ward, Mekhi Garner and Micah Baskerville all making the move to the NFL, there will be ample opportunity for players to advance through all levels of defense.
Sai’vion Jones had 23 stops and 4.5 sacks last season. It’s time for him to take his game to the next level.
Waiting in the wings is Quency Wiggins, a mad athlete who showed some talent in 1922, but the best is yet to come. With Wiggin’s combination of football and basketball skills, he draws comparisons to Marcus Spears, a longtime NFL All-American star.
Arizona transfer newcomer Paris Shand could slip in as a 3-Tech. The Toronto native competed in basketball for Team Canada. He had 39 tackles, 4.5 TFL and 4.0 sacks last season in Arizona.
On the “Jack” court, veteran Ovie Oghoufo (6-3, 237, 4.75) played in 42 contests in Notre Dame and Texas. He tallied 128 stops with 18 TFL and 8.5 sacks. If the season started today, Oghoufo would start.
Oregon transfer Bradyn Swinson (6-4, 233) has played in 30 games for the Ducks.
One name to keep an eye on this spring is Da’Shawn Womack (6-4, 255, 4.65), the 2023 signing who had 48 tackles, 26 TFL and 15 sacks as a prep senior. You can see him playing an increasing role as the season progresses. Jaxon Howard (6-4, 245), another freshman, will also be fighting for snap this spring.
Maason Smith is looking to recover in the season opener after suffering a season-ending injury. He is monitored in the spring.
Former West Virginia transfer Jordan Jefferson (6-3, 310) can line up on the nose or in defensive tackle. He played in 41 games for the Mountaineers. He has great strength, squats 695 pounds, cleans 395 pounds and benches 495 pounds. Jefferson was responsible for 27 QB pressures, nine hurries and 4.0 sacks, though he usually faces double team blocks.
Tygee Hill (6-3, 300), a 2022 signer, showed enough as a freshman to earn extra playing time.
Florida import Jalen Lee (6-3, 305) from Watson was the 16th prospect in Louisiana in 2020.
Bryce Langston (6-3 1/2, 293) has been a little quiet, but he’s added weight, strength and experience.
Mekhi Wingo (6-0, 295) was a godsend last season when he made a splash after Maason Smith fell. Pro Football Focus gave him an 84.3 compared to run, good for third overall among SEC defenders. He was also ranked as the nation’s #3 returning D-lineman for 2023. Originally, Wingo was meant to be a rotational player so he could line up at the nose or 3 tech as needed.
Jacobian Guillory has played in 425 defensive snaps for the Tigers. The 335-pounder is a strongman who calls for double teams. Sophomore Fitzgerald West (6-3, 322) experimented with a move to the center but was able to pull back to a more comfortable spot.
Bringing leadership and veteran know-how, Omar Speights (6-1, 236, 4.65) comes to the transfer portal from Oregon state. Had he picked the ’23 NFL Draft, he would likely go into the middle rounds. He had 304 tackles in 44 games for the Beavers. He’s probably WILL’s first linebacker.
Former Virginia transfer West Weeks is returning for his second season with the Tigers. He has 59 career stops.
At center, Greg Penn III (6-1, 238) seemed to get better every time on the field this past season. He’s an every down player. Penn completed a total of 77 stops in 1922 and demonstrated an ability to diagnose quickly. Whit Weeks, Wes’ brother, has exceptional athleticism. He will step into a role once played by the late Demario Tolan.
Harold Perkins has the ability to take over a game with 72 tackles, 13 TFL, 7.5 sacks and 14 hurries. At under 4.5 speed, he chases a game from sideline to sideline. Perkins could leave LSU as one of the better athletes to ever don the purple and the gold.
Interestingly, Perkins wears the same jersey number (40) once worn by Butkus Award winner Devin White. Could Perkins be a contender for the coveted No. 18 jersey next? Christian Braithwaite (6-1, 225), a four-star player in 2023, will get an extended look.
The transfer portal at the end of spring drills could be probed for further help with Linebacker.
The entire secondary lost seven players who were on the depth chart in 2022.
With the addition of Denver Harris and Zy Alexander, the Tigers once again had two of the best cover corners in the SEC. Both possess NFL talent.
Harris will be a plug and play border defender. He was considered the 13th best overall player in the transfer portal. He exudes confidence.
A native of Loreauville, Alexander was a three-year starter at Southeastern, where he was a 2021 FCS All-American. In 31 appearances for the Lions, he collected 97 tackles, 12 broken passes and nine interceptions.
JK Johnson hails from Ohio, where he only allowed 12 catches in 400 defensive snaps in 1922.
Acadianas Latterance Welch, a 2022 signee, is a great length and size (6-2, 187). He was the top-rated cornerback in Louisiana in the Class of ’22.
Two of the 2023 signatories, Javien Toviano and Jeremiah Hughes, are sufficiently advanced in their natural abilities to attract the attention of the staff. Both could go into the depth map.
Duce Chestnut (6-0, 198), a Syracuse transfer, made 24 starts with the Oranges. He received a coverage score of 75.6 from Pro Football Focus last season and was ranked 50th on the transfer portal. The 2021 Freshman All American could thrive in the slot.
Sage Ryan (5-11, 203), a redshirt sophomore, is a special athlete who still has room to grow. Redshirt freshman Jordan Allen (5-11, 195), a Christian product of Lafayette like Ryan, has a bright future.
Greg Brooks will be a tone setter. His return is vital to a newly established secondary school. With tremendous lateral speed, he can blitz off the edge and often manages to come up with a game-changing game at just the right time.
A 2023 signee, Ryan Yaites (6-0, 190), should emerge as a key component going forward at this point.
Matthew Langlois (6-0, 202) has the intangibles and speed to make a difference.
Major Burns suffered a neck injury last fall but the 6-foot-2, 188-pound junior will be considered the ringleader in the secondary school. Kylin Jackson (6-2, 196) brings immense potential as a new signing.