Halfway through the 2020 season, it became clear that LSU needed to change course in regards to playing time and that the freshman class should receive an abundance of the snaps.
Because of that decision, the program and the fans alike got to see rapid development and improvement from players like Max Johnson, TJ Finley, Kayshon Boutte, BJ Ojulari and Elias Ricks. These are five freshmen who earned valuable starts and produced at a high level and figure to be major pieces to the puzzle of the 2021 season.
However, there were a few players whose play late in the season has flown a little under the radar and will definitely push for playing time in the spring.
Jaquelin Roy (DT)
Roy was the No. 1 player in Louisiana heading into the 2020 season but kind of fell by the wayside early in the season as Glen Logan, Neil Farrell and Joseph Evans ate up most of the early season snaps on the interior. While he appeared in nine of the Tigers' 10 games, Roy really didn't start settling into the rotation and the speed of the college game until the end of the year, particulalry over the last four games.
During that stretch against Texas A&M, Alabama, Florida and Ole Miss, Roy combined for 15 tackles, four tackles for a loss and a two sack performance against the Gators. It's the type of stretch that builds momentum and confidence heading into the offseason.
The Tigers return their entire defensive front line with Logan and Farrell once again the favorites to earn reps on the inside. However, Roy was one of the late arrivals last summer so with a more traditional offseason to develop and improve, he should be a consistent starter in 2021.
Roy, Maason Smith and Ojulari are the future of this defensive line and all should earn plenty of reps in the fall.
Koy Moore (WR)
Opposite Boutte, Moore was the other freshman receiver who played a ton down the stretch of the 2020 season and got more comfortable as the year went on. Stuck behind Terrace Marshall, Racey McMath, Jaray Jenkins and Arik Gilbert for much of the early schedule, Moore just simply didn't receive all that many targets.
Of course that all changed once Marshall and Gilbert elected to opt out in back-to-back weeks. During those final three contests, Moore brought in 17 catches for 99 yards while also turning into the team's punt returner with Derek Stingley out of the lineup.
Moore didn't attract all of the national headlines that Boutte did down the stretch, but the former Rummel star proved to be a reliable pass catcher who should be one of the many options competing opposite Boutte for the No. 2 receiver spot.
"We want to aggressively attack the defense at all fronts, and we want to play the game the way we want to play the game,” offensive coordinator Jake Peetz recently said. “What we’re doing in this system—the spread system—is we want to define what things our players do at a very high level, and we want to amplify that. We want to adjust it, keep changing it, so people can’t set their watch to what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. And we want to involve everybody.”
Phillip Webb (LB)
Throughout the offseason, one of the names that Ed Orgeron consistently brought up, other than Ojulari was Webb. The Georgia native often found himself behind Ojulari, Ali Gaye, Andre Anthony in the pecking order and with all four returning, will have a tough time getting snaps.
Webb redshirted his first year in Baton Rouge and didn't appear in any games as a true freshman. But if he sticks with the program, there's no doubt that Orgeron and the coaching staff will give him an opportiunity because of his athleticism and burst at the line of scrimmage.
"Obviously I've talked about (freshmen) B.J. Ojulari and Philip Webb that I think are two of the best young pass-rushers I've ever been around," Orgeron said back in August.