The Curious Case of LSU Receiver Racey McMath, Why He’s the Favorite to Replace Justin Jefferson
For months, one of the lingering questions facing this LSU offense has been who would replace Justin Jefferson in the slot?
There have been many names speculated and thrown around, including rising sophomore speedster Trey Palmer or possibly incoming freshmen Kayshon Boutte or Koy Moore. But the most popular name that has arisen is senior Racey McMath.
McMath is an interesting case as he stands 6-foot-2 and has the size to be physical on the inside with the players he’s matched up with and the speed that made him a track star in high school. For the first few years of his LSU career, he made his mark as a special teams guru.
His teammates and coaches raved about his dedication and impact on special teams, with coach Ed Orgeron even calling him one of the best special teams players he's been around in 35 years of coaching.
But going into his junior season, you just got the feeling it was time for him to make an impact not only in special teams but with the offense as well. Being the fourth receiver on the depth chart, McMath did as best he could.
The Edna Karr product received extended playing time last year as a junior, when he appeared in 13 games and brought in 17 catches for 285 yards and three touchdowns.
His 60-yard touchdown against Mississippi State was a turning point in that game and it displayed the big play ability he can have.
A 58-yard touchdown (10:31 mark) from Myles Brennan against Texas A&M capped off a great regular season and perhaps provided a little glimpse into the future as well.
Now nobody is expecting McMath to put up the earth shattering numbers that Jefferson did in 2019. Jefferson's 111 receptions is a program record the likes of which probably won't be touched anytime soon.
But McMath brings a physicality and reliability to be that third receiver in five man spread formations. There could be times where Ja'Marr Chase moves inside to the slot and McMath and his 6-foot-2, 221-pound frame can be used on the outside opposite Terrace Marshall.
Orgeron has been glowing about McMath really ever since the beginning of spring practice in early March.
"He's catching the ball. He's in good shape catching the ball. He weighs 221 pounds right now," Orgeron said. "He's big and he's strong. Obviously, he's great on special teams. This is his time coming. I expect Racey to have a great year."
There will be times when freshman tight end Arik Gilbert is put in the slot. Orgeron has said multiple times he views Gilbert as more of a receiver than a tight end, allowing the Tigers to have that flexibility of splitting him out wide, in the slot or on the line of scrimmage.
LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger was asked recently about the vacant spot left behind by Jefferson and the first name out of his mouth was McMath.
“I think Racey McMath is going to have a breakout season, I really do," Ensminger said during the "Coaches Caravan."
There will be open competition as it's certainly plausible that Palmer, or Boutte or maybe even Jontre Kirklin push for that slot position. But for the time being, it seems to be McMath's to lose.