Projecting LSU Football’s Game One Defensive Starters
LSU’s defense is focused on getting back on track after an uncharacteristic 2019. With the addition of defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, and the schematic move to the 4-3, the Tigers should return to the attack-style, aggressive defense they’ve built a reputation for.
While the group loses a lot of production off last year’s team, they still return a handful of familiar faces and a ton of talent. See below for the projected depth chart by position:
DE: Justin Thomas, Andre Anthony
Defensive end and edge-rusher is setting up to be a position with significant question marks. With the unexpected loss of talented OLB Marcel Brooks to TCU, and the departure of K’Lavon Chaisson to the NFL, the Tigers will have some new faces rushing the quarterback in 2020.
While Andre Anthony is a name LSU fans will recognize, the production hasn’t been there for the rising senior, but this will be his ultimate chance to produce a breakout season. Logging just five starts in his career, Anthony has recorded 23 tackles and 1.5 sacks during his time in Baton Rouge.
DT: Tyler Shelvin, Glen Logan
The return of both Tyler Shelvin and Glen Logan is massive for LSU. Shelvin, who was named to the Outland Trophy watch list for the top interior lineman in the country, posted a break out campaign in 2019, starting 13 games at nose tackle, tallying 39 tackles and three tackles for loss.
Logan also proved to a key contributor in the trenches, playing in 11 games, recording 18 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack. His return, alongside Shelvin, gives LSU one of the best defensive tackle duos in America, even with the loss of Rashard Lawrence and Breidon Fehoko.
LB: Damone Clark, Jabril Cox, Micah Baskerville
For a position that appeared to be of concern heading into the spring, LSU’s addition of All-American linebacker Jabril Cox stabilizes the group. Damone Clark is expected to start alongside Cox and assume the role of signal caller in the middle of the defense.
“[Cox] was one of the top overall players in FCS last year and is a legitimate NFL prospect,” said 247Sports National Recruiting Analyst Charles Power. “This might not get the headlines of some others, but Jabril Cox is easily among the most talented players on the transfer market this offseason.”
As for Baskerville, Orgeron said this week on Off the Bench that the junior linebacker has really stepped up from a leadership standpoint and has made a jump in his overall game.
CB: Derek Stingley, Cordale Flott, Kary Vincent (slot)
The secondary is not a unit anybody needs to worry about. Frankly, it really doesn’t matter who leaves, LSU always reloads at the position with ease. That’s why they’re pinned as DBU.
They return the best cornerback in America, a veteran in Kary Vincent and a sophomore corner in Cordale Flott who’s seen reps -- and took advantage -- in big moments. Flott played in 13 games as a true freshman, totaling 15 tackles and four passes defended.
S: JaCoby Stevens, Todd Harris
The return of Jacoby Stevens might be the largest of the bunch. Stevens is the quarterback of the defense and the likely recipient of the coveted No. 18 jersey.
“I can't even tell you how excited I am to have JaCoby Stevens in our system,” said Bo Pelini at LSU’s Coaches Caravan. “He can do so many things. The NFL is going to be licking their chops over this guy. There's a lot of versatility, and there's a lot of depth in our secondary."
Many forget that junior Todd Harris returns from his season-ending knee injury suffered last September against Northwestern State, a player who started at safety to begin the 2019 season.