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Projecting LSU Football's Defensive Starters for Game One

Tigers return a veteran unit on defense loaded with star potential

With a completely revamped defensive coaching unit headlined by coordinator Daronte Jones, the Tigers are in perfect position to bounce back after last year’s difficult season.

Just a little over a week until the beginning of fall camp, the LSU staff will be finalizing who they believe will be starting in Sept. 4th’s season opener against UCLA. Here is a projection of who has the chance to take the field week one for the Tigers.

Defensive Line: Ali Gaye, Neil Farrell, Glen Logan, Andre Anthony

In what could be one of the most talented defensive line groups LSU has had in quite some time, Ali Gaye will be the one who leads the charge. A veteran presence, Gaye has the chance to boost his draft stock and take over the SEC.

Orgeron has praised the effort and tenacity of Neil Farrell heading into fall camp, stressing how much time he has put in to building up his body.

“I'm so proud of Neil Farrell,” Orgeron said during SEC Media Day. “He came back -- Neil makes a lot of plays. If you look at the stats last year, he's one of our most active defensive linemen.He came back, got in great shape. I think he's going to have a phenomenal year for us.”

Rounding out this group has the potential to be two high impact players in Glen Logan and Andre Anthony. Orgeron has commended the work Anthony has put in this offseason to be in position to take the SEC by storm. Another name to keep an eye on is BJ Olujari, who had an incredible spring camp, impressing this Tigers staff each day.

With his exceptional pass rushing skills, it's going to be hard to keep him off the field and not consider him a fifth member of the starting rotation.

All in all, this defensive line unit is deep with the potential to be one of the best in the country led by Ali Gaye. As Coach Jones looks to build this team into a contender again, it all starts with the big guys up front.

Linebackers: Damone Clark, Mike Jones Jr.

After landing on the Preseason Watch list for the 2021 Butkus Award, Damone Clark looks to lead this linebacker corps for the Tigers. Clark played in all 10 of LSU's games a year ago, finishing with a career-best 63 tackles (28 solo), four tackles for loss and a sack.

Alongside Clark will be one of the top transfers in the nation, Mike Jones Jr. The versatile athlete out of Clemson knows how to cover space and provide mismatches all over the field as he has the chance to have an expanded role in the real Death Valley.

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With Clark and Jones Jr. headlining this linebackers group, JUCO transfer Navonteque Strong has the chance to take the field at any moment for the Tigers as well due to his hard-nosed playstyle and pure athleticism. In two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Strong recorded 163 tackles including 29.5 tackles for a loss and 13.5 sacks.

Cornerbacks: Derek Stingley Jr., Eli Ricks, Dwight McGlothern

In what has the making to be the best cornerback duo in the country, Derek Stingley Jr. and Eli Ricks look to lead this cornerback group to the next level. With projected top 10 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft in Stingley Jr., Ricks looks to follow in his footsteps as the next great defensive back out of LSU.

The dynamic duo of All-American cornerbacks in Stingley Jr. and Ricks were both named to the watch list for this year’s Bednarik Award, which is presented to the college football’s defensive player of the year.

Along with the duo of proven talent, Dwight McGlothern looks to fill out this starting group in week one’s showdown against UCLA. McGlothern stole the show in LSU’s spring game a few months back, putting Tiger nation on notice for what is to come this fall. Cordale Flott, who started during the 2020 season, is another name to watch at that slot corner position.

The speedy, tenacious defensive back has the opportunity to add to an already loaded cornerback room for the 2021-22 season.

Safety: Todd Harris, Jay Ward

A veteran presence at safety this season, LSU will be led by upperclassmen Todd Harris and Jay Ward this fall. With Todd Harris lining up at strong safety, this gives the Tigers a proven leader who looks to help this team shake back from a season ago.

For Ward, he made the jump from cornerback to safety and hasn’t looked back since. The ability to reach the ball at its highest point and provide consistent highlight reel plays is what makes Ward stand out from the rest. His knack for the ball and incredible hand-eye coordination will be on full display this fall.

Final Thoughts:

This defensive unit has the makings to silence all the critics from just a season ago. With newly named defensive coordinator Daronte Jones looking to come in and shake things up, the energy of this defensive group has already taken a turn for the better.

“On the defensive side of the ball, when Coach Jones walks in the room, he just gives us energy,” Stingley Jr. said during SEC Media Day. “We all as a group from the front line to the secondary, we're all hanging out, outside of football, interacting more, and it's showing on the field, and it's going to show this fall too.”