Perhaps there will be no greater competition during the 2021 offseason at LSU than at the receiver position. The Tigers welcome a few returning veterans and some up and coming stars from the 2020 season back to the roster.
But there are five freshmen who will be suiting up this offseason as well and all will be given an opportunity to earn reps this summer and into the fall. Here's a look at the depth chart, potential starters and where this group stands as spring ball approaches.
Starters: Kayshon Boutte (sophomore), Koy Moore (sophomore), Deion Smith (freshman)
Boutte is without a doubt the team's No. 1 receiver heading into the 2021 season. His performance over the final three games was tremendous, combining for 527 yards and four touchdowns on 27 receptions.
Perhaps even more important, he appears to be carrying himself like a seasoned vet according to coach Ed Orgeron.
"Good thing about Kayshon is he's playing with confidence, practicing with confidence, working out with confidence," Orgeron said. "He's early for everything, he's always in class, an outstanding student with great character and that's gonna carry him a long way here."
After Boutte, this receiver group will be in extreme competition this offseason. Welcoming four of the five new freshmen to the group this summer gives some of the veterans an opportunity to make an impact with the coaching staff this spring.
Smith, the No. 1 player out of Mississippi is the only current freshman on campus and he's loaded with potential. It’s up to Smith to make an impact by way of his effort between now and next fall camp. He’s a burner. Combined with Boutte, another speedster, and Moore, that's an impressive group to roll out this spring.
The sophomore Moore could slip right into that slot receiver role with an offseason of training but this will be an open competition and it could very easily be any of the guys below who pop. Moore recorded 22 receptions for 177 yards, most of which came over the final three games of the season.
Depth Chart: Jaray Jenkins (junior), Jontre Kirklin (senior), Trey Palmer (junior), Brian Thomas (freshman), Chris Hilton (freshman), Jack Bech (freshman), Malik Nabers (freshman)
The Tigers will return two of their more productive veteran receivers on the roster in Jaray Jenkins and Jontre Kirklin, who combined for 36 receptions for 581 yards and five touchdowns in 2020. Jenkins in particular could very well be the option as he proved to be the most consistent on the roster after Boutte.
Of course the true measure of depth that lies with this receiver corps is the incoming freshman talent at the position. Chris Hilton, Jack Bech, Brian Thomas and Malik Nabers make for an intriguing and talented group of receivers who all could push for playing time in year one with the program.
All four of them won't be on campus until the summer and the recent addition of Thomas is just icing on the cake for this group.
"He is a legitimate 6-foot-4, with above-the-rim athleticism on the basketball court that has translated to the football field seamlessly at the prep level," SI All-American recruting director John Garcia said. "Better than many would expect after the catch, Thomas is a true WR1 prospect in the projection business, and the rest of the incoming corps compliments his size and style.
"Hilton is the slot-level speedster who can take the top off the defense, Nabers may develop into a reliable second level weapon and Bech has the frame to present as a hybrid pass catcher on the outside or inside down the line."
With a new offensive staff now getting acclimated, it'll be interesting to see if any of the veterans or Smith can really grab their attention and push for snaps.