LSU running back John Emery will miss the 2021 season because of academic issues, LSU coach Ed Orgeron confirmed to reporters on Monday. There is a possibility that "things change" according to Orgeron but as of now the Tigers will be preparing without one of its more dynamic runners.
This is a situation with a lot of moving parts as Emery and his family are pursuing all available options so that he is deemed eligible for this season.
"Right now he's unavailable, things could change and if they do change, we'll play him," Orgeron said. "Right now he's unavailable. Could they change? Yeah but it's out of my control."
LSU's running back room will have to quickly adjust to not having Emery, who was drawing great buzz out of fall camp and the way offensive coordinator Jake Peetz wanted to use him was similar to that of Christian McCaffrey. Where does Emery's absence leave the rest of the room?
For starters LSU will continue to roll with Tyrion Davis-Price as a starter but the two freshmen, Armoni Goodwin and Corey Kiner, figure to take on more of the ball carrying duties. Both played well in the win over McNeese Saturday night, with Goodwin rushing for 23 yards on two carries and Kiner for 53 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown.
Goodwin went down with an injury which is why he wasn't utilized more and Orgeron called him questionable for the Central Michigan game. As for Bradford, who transferred back to LSU after brief stint with Oklahoma this offseason, Orgeron believes he'll be able to suit up this weekend for the first time this season.
"It's a shame because I believe he's an outstanding running back," Orgeron said about Goodwin. "Tre Bradford, we'll have to see how the week goes but we hope he can play this week."
Both Goodwin and Kiner have the speed and elusivity to hit the outside, which is something LSU had some success with last week against McNeese. Kiner really got going in the second half with the game already in hand but his touchdown run was still plenty exciting to see.
"I do believe they need to touch the ball more and that's the same thing I saw in camp, those guys are dynamite," Orgeron said. "I think both of them are going to be great running backs, now we also like Ty Davis, he runs the ball well, he's a bull in there and we need to use all three of those players."
How the program plans to utilize Bradford will also be interesting as he showed flashes of potentially being the fastest running back on the team and was great in catching the ball out of the backfield in the lone start he had against Ole Miss in 2020.
There are options for this group moving forward even without Emery, but having to pivot away from a guy who was going to be a potentially huge contributor is still a bitter pill to swallow.