What Does Neil Farrell's Opt In Mean for LSU Football, Defensive Line in 2020?

Glen West

News broke Monday afternoon that senior defensive end Neil Farrell is planning to opt back in to the 2020 season. While many of the details need to be sorted out, something we'll learn more about Tuesday, the bottom line is that Farrell's addition to the 2020 team will be vital on so many levels.

Coach Ed Orgeron confirmed to the Advocate that Farrell returned to the Football Ops facility on Monday with the intention of opting back into the season. Farrell initially opted out for COVID-19-related reasons to care for his grandmother who had contracted the virus. After a month away from the team, Farrell will now have to work himself back into game shape which could take weeks.

When Farrell first announced his decision to opt out of the 2020 season, he did so with the intention of working his way back for the 2021 season.

"I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers from LSU and my supporters," Farrell wrote a few weeks back. "But my journey at LSU isn't finished yet."

During LSU's quest to a national championship, you could argue that outside of possibly Tyler Shelvin, Farrell was the Tigers' most productive defensive lineman. It was a wildly successful season that saw Farrell record 46 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and three sacks for the purple and gold.

For most of the offseason, Farrell's role in the 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Bo Pelini was one of the many enticing elements to ponder. In 15 appearances, Farrell established himself as one of the premier run stuffers on the team and the SEC.

He'll now rejoin a rejuvenated interior group that includes Glen Logan, Siaki "Apu" Ika, Joseph Evans, Jaquelin Roy and Jacobian Guillory. Orgeron recently talked about that group in particular after the recent opt out from Tyler Shelvin and departures of Justin Thomas and TK McLendon.

"Jacobian Guillory had an outstanding practice yesterday. The guy made plays. Jaquelin Roy, those guys are going to have to play for us," Orgeron said a week ago. "Glen Logan and now Apu Ika is going to start at nose. This was a hard decision. Joe Evans was doing really, really good on offensive line, I mean, really blocking well. I talked to him today. I think that he has a chance to play on defense so we're going to move him to defense today to add some depth, especially inside."

Throw in Farrell and this becomes one of the deepest interior defensive lines in the conference. The excitement of the season couldn't be any higher and Farrell took to Twitter Monday afternoon to seemingly announce his return to the program.

The importance of a deep, strong defensive line is imperative to success in the 4-3 attack style defense the Tigers plan to utilize this season. With 11 days until the season, just how quickly Farrell gets back into game shape will be what to follow over the coming week.

While opt outs have become a trend in recent weeks, could opt ins become one as well? Research and developments in testing have completely turned the views of the Big Ten in recent weeks as it could vote this week on whether to return this fall.

There's some speculation as to whether this will change some player's minds about not playing this season as well.

For LSU, one of those players who is mulling over the idea of opting back into the season is defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin. His addition would completely vault the defense to new expectations that were lost when he initially decided to opt out.

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