LSU Football Newcomer Profile: Gabriel Reliford Turning Heads During First Offseason

Reliford shined as an early enrollee during the spring, making a name for himself in the purple and gold.
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Brian Kelly and the LSU football staff reeled in one of the top defensive linemen in America after Louisiana native Gabriel Reliford put pen to paper with the Tigers in December.

Reliford, the No. 3 overall prospect in the Bayou State and a top 10 edge rusher in the 2024 class, signed with the Tigers after a rigorous recruiting prospect.

After originally committing to the Texas A&M Aggies, Reliford flipped his commitment to the hometown Tigers.

Now, he's in Baton Rouge and has become an immediate impact player for LSU as he navigates his first offseason with the Bayou Bengals.

The 6-foot-2, 270-pounder arrived in Death Valley as an early-enrollee in January with the opportunity to take in spring ball before his freshman campaign.

Once on campus, the coveted defensive lineman turned heads immediately.

Reliford thrived in the weight room after adding significant size and worked his way into meaningful snaps come the Spring Game in April.

He worked in with the second and third team defensive ends and wrapped up the game with two sacks and two tackles for loss. Reliford's showing immediately put the LSU staff on notice, but it was expected by most.

The work ethic he attains paired with impressive technique as an "undersized" defensive lineman has helped mold him into a player this program is excited for long term.

This summer, he's already become dominant during workouts. The freshman earned Freak of the Week honors already after handling business in the weight room and during other strength/conditioning work.

Now, he's poised to have a big-time fall camp in August with this program looking for him to take impactful snaps prior to the 2024 season.

Along with Reliford, LSU signed the No. 1 overall player in Louisiana: Dominick McKinley.

A five-star defensive lineman in the 2024 class, once McKinley put pen to paper, the Tigers signed the top two lineman in Louisian.

The one-two punch of Reliford and McKinley will be a sight to see for LSU fans for the foreseeable future.

For Kelly and defensive line coach Bo Davis, the addition of McKinley quickly became a critical move due to lack of depth within the interior defensive line.

Now, McKinley has made his way to Baton Rouge and is quickly turning heads in Death Valley.

The freshman phenom hovered around the 275-285 pound range during his senior year of high school with Acadiana (La.), but has bulked up significantly this offseason.

McKinley is now listed at 6-foot-6, 316 pounds heading into his first season with the Bayou Bengals.

It's plain and simple: McKinley is expected to take snaps during his first season in Baton Rouge due to depth issues and the Tigers have been pleased with his development so far.

He hit the weight room with force during the spring on his own and carried his momentum once enrolling at LSU during the summer.

According to a source, McKinley has been impressive this offseason and gelling with his teammates quickly.

The transition to SEC ball is challenging for any position group, but when it comes to defensive line, it's a significant adjustment. For McKinley, he'll be expected to take significant snaps down the stretch of the season.

LSU added McKinley and transfers Jay'Viar Suggs (Grand Valley State) and Gio Paez (Wisconsin) this offseason in order to add depth up front.

Veteran defensive lineman Jacobian Guillory can be pencilled in as a starter, but who is alongside him for Week 1 agaisnt USC will be a piece to monitor.

We'll see McKinley, Suggs and Paez battle it out for the second defensive tackle slot with offensive lineman turned defensive lineman Kimo Makeneole also entering the mix.

For McKinley, he's been impressive this offseason after adding nearly 35 pounds and will be a critical piece to the freshman class moving forward.

Other LSU News:

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The Additions: LSU Baseball Dominating NCAA Transfer Portal, More Moves on the Way

LSU Football Newcomer Profile: Dashawn Spears Looks To Make Immediate Impact

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Zack Nagy


Zack Nagy is the Managing Editor and Publisher of LSU Country, a Sports Illustrated Publication. Nagy has covered Tiger Football, Basketball, Baseball and Recruiting, looking to keep readers updated on anything and everything involving LSU athletics.