LSU has set the bar high in terms of recruiting graduate transfers that will be able to help right away and the 2020 class saw two players, linebacker Jabril Cox and offensive lineman Liam Shanahan enter the fold.
Cox figures to step in and immediately contribute as a starter for the Tigers this season after spending the last four years at North Dakota State, where he won three national championships and was a three time All-American for the Bison. LSU coach Ed Orgeron has talked at length about how lucky the Tigers were to bring him aboard as there were some draft pundits that thought Cox could've been a first-round draft choice in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Being a graduate transfer senior, fitting in with a new team can often take a little bit of an adjustment but Orgeron said on Tuesday's edition of "Off the Bench" that Cox has fit in well with the team in the first few weeks.
"Quiet, mature, very focused and reminds me a lot of Damone Clark," Orgeron said. "He's very professional, goes about his business. He came here to be a great player and comes from a tremendous winning culture at North Dakota State so all of the early reports have been A+ on him."
As for Shanahan, the team has said all along they view the Harvard transfer as a "swiss army knife lineman" that could play guard or tackle. Orgeron gives a lot of credit to offensive line coach James Cregg for finding Shanahan and bringing him to Orgeron's attention.
"He comes and shows me the film one day and said 'coach you gotta watch this guy.' I looked at him and I thought he was pretty good but you know the competition is not the SEC up there," Orgeron said. "He's been snapping, he can play right guard, right tackle, the guys say he's tremendous, they love him, he's very mature and is exactly what we needed. I'm feeling really confident that this guy can help us next year."
Cox will be competing with freshmen Antoine Sampah and Josh White as well as Micah Baskerville at inside linebacker while Shanahan figures to compete mostly for that center and right guard positions with Chasen Hines, Joseph Evans, Kardell Thomas and Anthony Bradford all hoping to win the jobs.
The competition promises to be fierce for Cox and Shanahan as heading into the offseason, linebacker and offensive line were the two positions the Tigers needed to address in the graduate transfer market.
In terms of other competitive battles to watch during camp, the edge rusher slot will be one to focus on as the Tigers have a pair of true freshmen that look to replace K'Lavon Chaisson.
"We've got two great young men in BJ Ojulari and Phillip Webb. BJ was with us in the spring and I do believe he's going to be an All-American here," Orgeron said. "He has the potential to be a tremendous football player and a high pick. Phillip Webb, I haven't seen him yet but talking with Tommy Moffitt, he thinks that the guy is very talented so we think those guys on the right side can rush the passer for us."
The team can start practicing in a walkthrough capacity for six hours a week starting July 24, which is something Orgeron says the team needs to get guys up to speed.
The rules allow the team to go through walkthroughs right up until the day before fall camp, which is Aug. 6. Orgeron said he wants his team fresh for fall camp so he'll likely give the players a couple of days off before the pads come on starting on Aug. 7.
"I'm making the schedule right now and we're going to practice six days a week, give them one day off and it allows you to go all the way until the day before camp, which is Aug. 6," Orgeron said. "That walkthrough period will help us, especially for our quarterbacks and receivers, getting our timing right, getting the snap right and it helps to have a ball."