When LSU quarterback TJ Finley announced he'd be entering the transfer portal, it wasn't a shock. The timing lines up with a quarterback that went through spring ball, saw the writing on the wall and knew the best option for his future was to find another program.
But in what now becomes practically a two horse race for the Tigers, with Max Johnson and Myles Brennan being the expected duo that will battle it out in the fall, the loss of Finley brings some clarity to the position but also some possibilities at other areas of need. For general manager Austin Thomas, the loss of Finley hammers home the importance of retention in this day and age of college football.
"Retention is now going to be a big word for football with the way that the transfer portal is now and the one time transfer that's about to passed by the NCAA," Thomas said on the Jordy Culotta Show. You have to retain players now and you used to recruit them, sign them, develop them and send them off to the NFL and there were restrictions on getting out and going somewhere else. Now with the NCAA opening this up, you have to do a really good job with retention."
Ed Orgeron has not been afraid to attack the NCAA transfer portal in years past and with players now having the option to transfer and play immediately due to the one time rule enacted by the NCAA. Orgeron brought in Clemson linebacker Mike Jones Jr. who figures to compete for starting time right away. With two open scholarships to potentially fill, the Tigers have even more room to add positions of need.
The three that come to mind right off the bat are safety, tight end and offensive line. While the Tigers did return the entire starting offensive line this offseason, it's pretty clear that the coaching staff isn't exactly trusting the depth behind the starters. Pretty much Anthony Bradford is the only player Orgeron has said the team feels comfortable with and if he develops, could possibly push for the starting right guard position.
At tight end the bodies simply aren't there. Outside of rising sophomore Kole Taylor and junior Nick Storz, there are no scholarship tight ends on the roster. The transfer of Arik Gilbert really threw a wrench into the future of the position but in the same breath, it's been reported that Gilbert has been on campus and met with the coaches about a possible return.
"We had a very good meeting," Orgeron said in the spring. "There's been no decisions been made. He was happy. Everybody was happy to see him. We checked with compliance to make sure that everything that he was doing was on the up and up when he came to meet and he could come talk to us."
That would be an absolutely massive addition to the offensive arsenal that already exists but at this time, it's hard to know exactly what will pan out there.
As for safety, the depth will greatly improve once freshmen Sage Ryan and Matthew Langlois join a group that includes Todd Harris, Jordan Toles, Jay Ward and Derrick Davis. But this is a group that could use the depth and the transfer portal has plenty of options.
One that makes sense would be Georgia's Major Burns, a rising sophomore and Louisiana native who considered the Tigers coming out of high school before electing to sign with the Bulldogs.
In all, the Tigers now have two scholarships to play with and should be very active in the portal to help fill some needs in the offseason before fall camp starts up.