For weeks on end as the 2020 season drew to a close, Ed Orgeron talked about the bright future that is in place with the LSU program. He talked about the character of the players who stuck around through thick and thin to finish the season off with a two game win streak that built a little momentum heading into the offseason.
In the last 10 days, the Tigers have seen the return of veterans Liam Shanahan, Chasen Hines, Ed Ingram, Ali Gaye, Andre Anthony and Neil Farrell to bolster the offensive and defensive lines for the 2021 season. It's a group that will undoubtedly make for one of the more veteran units up front in the SEC next season.
Orgeron has a strong relationship with all of his defensive linemen so convincing Gaye, Anthony and Farrell to return were all tremendous wins for the program for what is expected to be another year in the 4-3. Another offseason of development for the young players on the roster should only help Orgeron and the coaching staff he puts together as the Tigers will have a nice mixture of experience and youth on the roster.
The losses of JaCoby Stevens, Jabril Cox, Tory Carter and Zach Von Rosenberg are a blow but an expected blow at that. The team is still awaiting a decision from defensive tackle Glen Logan, who over the past two years has been one of the consistent forces up front for the defense.
"We've fought through adversity obviously and those guys who decided not to opt out, to finish, very proud of them, very proud of the seniors who played their last game," Orgeron said after the Ole Miss win. "I think it shows the young guys to never quit, just keep working."
For Orgeron, the returning of so many veteran players is a vindication that the locker room maybe isn't as fractured as once believed. Keep in mind, many of the players, outside of Shanahan, have been through both the best and the worst times of this program, offering some perspective of what the future could look like with a more experienced team.
It's also important to know that players like Anthony, Hines, Gaye and Shanahan were just first-year starters in a season unlike any we've seen. That offseason preparation and constant waive of opt outs were all changes that you don't usually expect or prepare for.
With that being said, it'll be imperative for this unit to continue to build chemistry much like the time spent between the end of the 2018 season and the start of the 2019 season.
The NCAA nor SEC has released offseason protocols in terms of workouts or spring practice at this time. With LSU's new semester starting in a couple of days, getting the players back and finding a way for them to safely be around the facilities will be a priority.
At the end of the day, Orgeron promised the return of multiple veteran players and deserves a ton of credit for following through. It wouldn't have been a bit surprising to see guys like Ingram or Gaye elect to move on to the NFL. There's plenty of work that needs to be done and filling out the coaching staff is the next piece of the puzzle.