Late Thursday night, reports trickled down that LSU starting linebacker Micah Baskerville wasn't enrolled with the university for the spring semester. The veteran linebacker won't be back with the team this semester but might be back with the program by the fall according to The Athletic's Brody Miller.
The loss of a veteran player at a position where depth and experience are serious question marks is a tremendous hit to the group but also opportunity for younger players on the roster to leave their mark. Coach Ed Orgeron has said multiple times this offseason that Damone Clark is stepping up as a leader on the defensive side of the ball during "Fourth Quarter" drills.
It's safe to say he'll earn plenty of first team reps this spring but for JUCO transfer Navonteque Strong and younger players like Josh White and Antoine Sampah, this is an important next few weeks without Baskerville. Keep in mind that newcomer Greg Penn still isn't with the team either as he'll arrive in the summer.
With new position coach Blake Baker on board, all of the players currently on campus should feel good about getting a new, fresh pair of eyes to give unbiased looks at all of them.
"When you look at the rest of the room, not a lot of guys who've played in the room," Baker said during the Coaches Caravan. "I know we're going to get two or three guys in the summer who aren't with us now, but I'm really excited about the group we have now. You look at a Josh White, a uhm Navonteque Strong, Antoine Sampah, there's a lot of guys with a lot of potential."
The true freshman White saw his snaps increase as the season went on as well. He impressed the coaching staff early on and when the linebacker unit struggled at times, it opened a door for him to play early.
There's still plenty to work on for the now rising sophomore and while he only recorded six total tackles on the season, his potential is sky high and the coaching staff is expecting a ton of improvement. Sampah didn't see much on the field work as a true freshman as he needed time to develop while Strong brings some college experience but has yet to play on the big stage.
"The biggest thing I'm trying to get across to the linebackers right now is don't be afraid to make a mistake. Let's cut it loose, let's go full speed, we'll correct it on film and go from there," Baker said. "I think that's kinda where we're at, and I think it's refreshing. As a unit, some of the guys are afraid to screw up. We're gonna make mistakes it's not gonna be perfect. But let's be 100%, two feet in, be physical and that's kinda the challenge I have going forward."
These are an important few weeks for Baker and the linebackers and it's one of those positions that will likely be in open competition through the entire offseason.