Three Breakout Candidates for LSU Football 2021 Season

Ojulari, Moore among the under the radar players to keep a close eye on for a potential monumental season
Author:
Publish date:

LSU returns many prominent pieces to the 2021 roster but some of the players didn't break out until the end of the 2020 season, were limited to a specific role or weren't a part of the program. 

This offseason, the Tigers are expecting a sizable jump in development for some of their younger pieces with a more traditional summer routine expected. Here are a few players who could see a significant increase in play time and production.

BJ Ojulari (DE)

Before he even played a snap for the purple and gold, Ed Orgeron was calling Ojulari a future All-American for LSU. He only backed that praise up by being one of the most consistent edge rushers for the Tigers during the 2020 season. 

His elite combination of speed and athleticism on the outside helped him turn in a terrific freshman season that included four sacks and five tackles for a loss. Though LSU is returning its entire starting rotation on the defensive line, including Ali Gaye and Andre Anthony, getting Ojulari on the field will be critical to this defense's success.

Primarily used as a third down edge rusher in 2020, Ojulari should see much more consistency as a first and second down rusher as well. He still needs to work on his consistency in the run game which is why Gaye and Anthony figure to be heavy parts of the rotation as well. But there's no doubt LSU has a future star on its hands.

Mike Jones Jr. (LB)

Jones is one of the newest additions to the linebacker corps, hoping to follow a similar path to Jabril Cox a season ago as a graduate transfer. Jones spent the last three seasons at Clemson as a nickel/Sam linebacker and was looking for a more defined role as a starter as he enters his final season. 

A player with a ton of potential if given a heavier workload, Jones was even pegged as a potential first round pick in the 2022 mock draft by ESPN's Todd McShay. Jones recorded 26 tackles, four tackles for a loss, two interceptions and a forced fumble in his role last season. 

With Jones and the rest of the 2021 class arriving on campus this weekend, he'll have to get with linebackers coach Blake Baker to quickly assert himself as a starter for this team. Most of that will come on the field in training camp, where he'll be competing with Navonteque Strong, Damone Clark, Josh White and Antoine Sampah for playing time. 

Jones was ranked as the No. 2 returning linebacker in college football according to PFF and his value should only rise once fall camp starts up.

“I mean Mike is just an awesome kid and unbelievably committed and did a great job," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "He’s graduating in May and he just, I think, wants a little different experience.

“We looked at three big-time linebackers and the one that fit us the best was Mike,” Orgeron said. “We are excited about him, he made a lot of plays at Clemson, comes from a great school, a championship winner. He is going to come here, have two years of eligibility."

Koy Moore (WR)

Moore is a rising sophomore in the program and really saw his playing time increase towards the end of the season. Outisde of Kayshon Boutte, there isn't one player that has a firm hand on the other receiver roles and Moore is one of those players who can be moved around a ton in Jake Peetz's offense. 

He was not only used as a receiver in the spring game but also given the ball in the backfield on reverses and as a running back with the depth not all that deep. Moore caught a touchdown and 42 yards from scrimmage in the spring game and will continue to push for one of theose starter roles into the fall.

Jaray Jenkins, Jontre Kirklin, Trey Palmer, Deion Smith and the four  incoming freshmen will also be competing for playing time. But over his final three games, Moore combined for 13 receptions, 99 yards and three touchdowns, showing off the talent and potential he can have in this offense.