Football is back in the bayou – sort of.
The 2023 LSU football team took the field for the first time Thursday as coach Brian Kelly began spring camp for his second season. This team has some key returnees — namely quarterback Jayden Daniels, top receiver Malik Nabers and budding defensive star Harold Perkins — but it also has plenty of new faces brought in both through the transfer portal and in high school recruiting.
Tigers fans will be excited to see many of these guys in action over the next six weeks, but not every player will be available. Due to injuries, some players will either go contactless or forgo the bouncy ball altogether.
The Advocate’s Wilson Alexander reported on the full list ahead of camp. Here’s a rundown of each player the Tigers will miss.
DT Maason Smith (no contact)
AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman
A breakthrough for Smith was expected in the 2022 season before a cruciate ligament tear on the first ride of the season dashed those hopes. After a knee injury, the coaches are playing it safe with Smith and he understandably will not be in contact. Still, it’s a good sign that he’ll get at least some work this spring, and his return, hopefully in full force, will be one of the biggest storylines at fall camp.
EDGE Da’Shawn Womack (non-contact)
Womack, the most valuable engagement in LSU’s sixth-ranked recruit class for 2023, was a five-star recruit and could see immediate game time on an LSU defensive line that needs to replace both edge rushers [autotag]BJ Ojulari[/autotag] And [autotag]Ali Gaye[/autotag]. The Tigers added quite a bit of transfer depth on the fringes, but Womack’s talent could allow him to see the field early, even as a true rookie. He had shoulder surgery after his senior season of high school and the coaches are going to take it slow.
TE Mason Taylor (Aus)
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
This is arguably the most impactful absence from any player on the list. Taylor had a fantastic season as a true freshman, becoming LSU’s top tight end. He finished third on the team in receiving with 414 yards and had three receiving touchdowns. He caught the game-winning two-point conversion against Alabama and believes he’ll play a major role on offense this fall.
He underwent off-season shoulder surgery, and LSU must look for other pass catchers to move up camp without him.
RB Armoni Goodwin (Aus)
Scott Clause/The Daily Advertiser via AP
Goodwin has the potential to be the X factor in the running back room this fall. He was LSU’s top defenseman last season before a knee injury ended his campaign in November. He’s still recovering from that and will miss the entire spring, which opens the door for players like [autotag]Noah Cain[/autotag] as well as early bird [autotag]Trey Holly[/autotag] To impress.
OL Charles Turner (Aus)
Scott Clause-USA TODAY Sports
Turner is a veteran who competed at the center for most of last season. He’ll likely retain that role again this fall, but his absence from camp has opened the door for him [autotag]Marlon Martinez[/autotag]who, according to The Advocate, deserves first-team representatives in his place.
DT Mekhi Wingo (Aus)
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
Another absence that will be painfully felt this spring, Wingo will miss the entire bounce ball with what Kelly has described as shoulder and core muscle injuries. Wingo, a Missouri transfer, took a starting role when Smith was injured in the first game and became one of the most influential players on defense. With neither he nor Smith being full-fledged contestants, LSU will be reduced to a thin defensive tackle group in the spring.
CB Duce Chestnut (Aus)
AP Photo/Adrian Kraus
Chestnut was one of LSU’s top signings on the transfer portal this offseason as a two-year cornerback at Syracuse. He should prove key to replacing LSU’s losses in high school, but he’s working on a shoulder injury so we won’t see him in live replays until fall camp.
DT Jordan Jefferson (Aus)
AP Photo/William Wotring
Jefferson, another Portal newcomer who won’t be available in Spring, seems like a key element behind Smith and Wingo, so it’s a shame he can’t get reps at camp. Without that trio of inside players, the Tigers will only have four healthy scholarship defensive tackles as full contestants this spring.
WR Aaron Anderson (Aus)
Gary Cosby Jr-USA TODAY Sports
Of the three transfers who won’t take part in spring training, this one is perhaps the most disappointing. Anderson is a former five-star player who made the move after an injury-plagued true freshman season in which he made just one appearance. He had knee surgery in the off-season and will also undergo thumb surgery, but if he recovers fully he could play a vital role in a receiving corps that lost [autotag]Kayshon Boutte[/autotag] And [autotag]Jaray Jenkins[/autotag] to the draft, as well [autotag]Jack Bech[/autotag] to the transfer portal.
RB John Emery Jr. (Out, Academics Focus)
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Emery is healthy and could eventually compete in bouncy ball but he is not currently training as he makes academics his priority Kelly says that he “has some grades to hit before football” and is focused on getting his degree. It’s been a tumultuous LSU career for Emery, a former five-star recruit who missed all of 2021 and early 2022 due to an academic suspension. He’s a talented player who had some promising moments last fall and hopefully he’s in a position to return to the team soon.
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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire