Every new football season presents its own set of challenges and spring practices are usually the time to lay the foundation of what the new season will bring. On Wednesday, LSU coach Ed Orgeron went through a laundry list of players that have moved positions and players that will not participate in the spring due to a variety of circumstances.
Let's start with the bad and the bit of surprising news that Orgeron revealed during his spring press conference was that expected left tackle Dare Rosenthal has withdrawn from school for the semester for "personal reasons."
Orgeron did say that the team expects to have Rosenthal back in the summer but his absence is a crucial one as the Tigers offensive line depth is already sparse. As a result of Rosenthal's absence, Cameron Wire and Thomas Perry will be the only available left tackles for the spring while the backup left guard will be a walk-on.
"I think Dare will be an excellent left tackle, he's gonna play in the NFL but he's not gonna be with us this spring," Orgeron said.
In addition to Rosenthal's departure, LSU will be missing Tory Carter, Soni Fonua, Arik Gilbert, and Todd Harris for the entirety of spring camp due to injuries. Orgeron did say there's a chance that Harris could squeeze in a few light practices at the end of spring camp but that it was too early to give a definitive answer.
The safety depth will take a bit of a hit this spring with Kary Vincent and Maurice Hampton off running track and playing for the baseball team respectively. With all three of those guys missing, Orgeron said freshman safety Jordan Toles has stepped up and looked "fantastic" in his first few weeks with the team.
"He looks fantastic," Orgeron said of Toles. "He's got speed, he's got burst and I can't wait to see him with the pads on."
Freshman cornerback Elias Ricks will be limited in spring practice while the team is expecting to have defensive end Neil Farrell back in two weeks from an injury.
Outside of the injuries and departures, Orgeron announced a number of position changes that hadn't been previously known. Safety Marcel Brooks will make a permanent move to inside linebacker, where he will compete with Damone Clark and Micah Baskerville for time in the spring.
Orgeron said Brooks will need to add another 10 pounds but has adjusted well to the new position and expects him to have a bright future as an LSU linebacker.
"I think he's doing fine, he's got to learn the defense but he was playing outside linebacker in the 3-4 [defense] but was a little undersized," Orgeron said. "We didn't have any linebackers so we had no other choice but to move him to linebacker and I think he's been phenomenal. He's very fast and once he catches up to the scheme, I think he's going to be a fantastic linebacker."
Receiver Devonta Lee has also made a transition to linebacker where Orgeron envisions him playing a role similar to that of JaCoby Stevens.
"When we watched his state championship, Devonta was the best player on either defense," Orgeron said. "He played receiver here and we felt he would've been a good receiver here but we felt he'd be more of a linebacker like a JaCoby Stevens type. Big, strong and fast and he wanted to move so we talked about it and made the decision."
With all of the roster movement and players out with injuries, it'll be tough to gauge just what this team looks like, particularly on the offensive line. That depth is something Orgeron said concerns him as the team only currently goes about two deep at most of the o-line spots.
It'll be interesting to see how the team approaches the next few weeks in regards to some of these position makeovers but Orgeron is excited about where his team stands overall as the 2020 football season officially gets underway Saturday.
"We're really excited about setting the LSU standard of performance," Orgeron said. "A lot of guys are eager to prove themselves and there are a lot of holes to fill from a great football team last year."