GTN writers Gary Laney and David Helman discuss issues around LSU football.
Today, they talk about the offseason attrition in the Tigers secondary. Since spring football, defensive backs Sam Gibson, David Jenkins and Ronnie Vinson have left the program to transfer to other schools.
Question: Does the offseason attrition in the secondary hurt LSU?:
Gary Laney: It could, but probably not until 2013.
Let's face it, these three guys left because their prospects for playing time don't look good in 2012. The Tigers have perhaps the best secondary talent in the nation and it's not out of the question that as many as three LSU defensive backs could go in the first round. Cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon and safety Eric Reid are among the top five juniors at their position, according to our Mel Kiper, Jr.
And make no mistake, these guys weren't leaving because of Mathieu and Reid, who are givens at their respective positions. Rather, it was the ascent of other young defensive backs that made the trio's future doubtful enough to leave.
It could still be an issue if the Tigers experienced a large exodus to the NFL draft, and with three would-be veterans departed, LSU could enter 2013 with a freshman/sophomore-heavy roster of defensive backs.
David Helman: Honestly? Probably not a lot. Like Gary mentioned, LSU could lose a lot of secondary talent to the NFL next year, and in that case the Tigers would be pretty young in the defensive backfield. So what? Marquee names like Reid, Mathieu and Simon -- and Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne before them -- were unproven youngsters at one point, and they all jumped into the spotlight with minimal growing pains.
With the reputation LSU is developing for secondary prowess, it's not a stretch to expect that trend to continue. Regardless of who they lose after the 2012 season, the Tigers will enter 2013 with at least three or four experienced defensive backs. On top of that, the team added five defensive backs to its 2012 recruiting class back in February.
And of course, there's the current class. Among LSU's current 2013 commits are four-star defensive back talents Jeryl Brazil and Jeremy Cutrer, as well as ESPN 300 athletes John Diarse and Tre'Davious White -- who could wind up in the secondary. None of that includes other big names like Rashard Robinson or Priest Willis, who could wind up in the class before it's all said and done.
Jenkins' decision is especially puzzling because he appeared to be the heir apparent to Simon. But this isn't a program lacking for talent in the secondary.
Q: What young players do you look forward to seeing the most in the LSU secondary?
DH: The guy I'm most excited to see hasn't even gone through a practice in purple and gold, though he will soon.
Dwayne Thomas will go through his first practice with LSU when the Tigers report for camp in August. All the talk about Thomas coming out of high school has been his domination of opposing wide receivers -- whether that's at LSU camps, high school combines or actual games with his alma mater O. Perry Walker. At 6-foot, 175 pounds, he doesn't boast the crazy physique of a Patrick Peterson, but he's suffocating in his coverage.
Thomas told me in January he expects to have a chance to compete for some playing time, and that seems like a reasonable expectation. Peterson, Simon and Mathieu all made significant contributions in their true freshman seasons, and Thomas could be that guy in 2012. With the amount of talent LSU has in the defensive backfield, it also wouldn't be surprising to see the New Orleans native redshirt. But it will be fun to see the youngster get a shot this summer.
GL: There are a few guys who I think have outstanding futures in the secondary.
The most notable is Jalen Collins, the cornerback who latched on the third cornerback role. At 6-foot-1, 184 pounds, he's big for his position. Teamed with the 6-foot-3 Simon, he'll give LSU a huge pair of corners when LSU chooses to lineup the "Honey Badger" inside at a nickel.
With Collins, LSU should be able to match up with big receivers better than perhaps any team in the country.
At safety, I look forward to seeing more of Micah Eugene, who started in place of injured starter Craig Loston in the spring game and had four tackles. I've heard a lot about the physicality and natural ball-hawking skills of the sophomore from Lafayette, La. Sophomore Ronald Martin also showed flashes of brilliance in the spring, picking off a Zach Mettenberger pass.