LSU Football Defensive End Justin Thomas Back With the Team Ed Orgeron Announces

Glen West

As a junior in 2019, LSU defensive end Justin Thomas was going to be almost a glorified starter, even if he didn't actually start in games. Thomas was set to play a major role in the Tigers pass rush and he did, for just five games.

In a reserve role, Thomas recorded eight tackles, one sack and two tackles for a loss with his most productive outing coming against Utah State, a game he made a career-high four tackles. He seemed to be the perfect fit on the edge whenever Rashard Lawrence or Glen Logan needed a breather.

But in late-October, after five appearances, coach Ed Orgeron announced Thomas had withdrawn from school for "personal reasons" but there was optimism that he could return to the team in the spring. During Tuesday's interview with Baton Rouge radio show "Off the Bench," Orgeron confirmed that Thomas had enrolled back at LSU and was participating in team workouts.

"I’m excited about Justin Thomas coming back,” Orgeron said. 

With a near three month absence from the team, Orgeron admitted that Thomas came in a little heavy and would like him to lose around 15 pounds with spring practices just around the corner.

“Justin weighed 300 pounds. I want him to get down to 285," Orgeron said. "We’ve got him at right end. He’s quick and explosive.”

With Thomas back in the fold, it adds another veteran to a defensive line that is already returning starters Tyler Shelvin and Glen Logan as well as  senior Neil Farrell and Siaki "Apu" Ika, who figures to be a starter as a sophomore after receiving some playing time as a freshman.

“Maybe we play Tyler and Apu at the same time out there," Orgeron said. "It’s going to be fun to see these guys compete. May the best man play.”

That doesn't even include the six defensive linemen that are soon going to be on LSU's campus as part of the 2020 class. Jaquelin Roy, Jacobian Guillory and Eric Taylor are all four-stars loaded with potential that will want to carve out a spot in the rotation. 

With LSU moving to a 4-3, there can never to be too many defensive linemen. Thomas will need to lose the weight and prove he can still be a contributing factor or he might be replaced by some youthful talent.