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Beloved LSU Safety Todd Harris Striving For Resurgence After 2019 Season Was Cut Short Due to Injury

Harris set to compete for deep safety role in stacked secondary

The LSU secondary took a hit when starting deep safety Todd Harris went out in 2019. In the third game of what became an unforgettable season, the junior landed wrong on a pass breakup in the second quarter against Northwestern State.

The diagnosis, a torn-ACL. The sentiments in the aftermath of the injury were felt across the LSU locker room.

"It’s devastating. When somebody, one of your hardest workers on the team, one of the greatest teammates you’ve ever had, goes out with a season-ending injury, it sucks," safety JaCoby Stevens said. "I pray for him and I wish the best for him." 

"Great character and a nice young man. He does everything right, and he’s hard to replace," coach Ed Orgeron later added. "It was an unfortunate accident. He just landed on the ground wrong."

Safeties coach Bill Busch admitted in an interview on "Off the Bench" last month that it took a series after the injury before he finally locked back in on the task at hand.

“You want to talk about a gut-wrenching play,” Busch said in the interview. “They showed the replay, so I could see it very clearly. It was devastating. It was devastating to me. It probably took a series for me to get my head back around it.

"He was doing so many great things and playing so much. He was going to be someone that would have played 500-600 snaps during the season and to lose him was rough.”

With Harris on the bench, the Tigers had to do some tinkering in the secondary, which took a few weeks to to settle into. Eventual Jim Thorpe winner Grant Delpit, who had made his billing as an elite safety by playing closer to the line of scrimmage, played more deep safety.

Because LSU used a lot of three safety looks last season, Delpit's move allowed Kary Vincent to stay in the nickel and Stevens, a player who also thrived near the line of scrimmage, to stay in his role as well.

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The Tigers would surrender 38 points and 374 yards of offense at Vanderbilt the next week as the secondary worked out the kinks to life without Harris. As a whole the secondary had it's great moments, like clamping down on Jordan Love and Utah State in a 42-6 win and holding Kellen Mond and Texas A&M to seven points in the regular season finale.

Clemson and Oklahoma, two of the best offenses in the country heading into the College Football Playoff, averaging a combined 88 points a game, were limited to 53 points total, leading to comfortable LSU wins in both outings. 

Moving ahead to 2020, Harris will play an important role in the secondary, similar to the one he would've played last year had his season not been derailed. Stevens can expect to play a similar role as well as Kary Vincent in the slot. 

As a junior, Stevens flourished in the box and Pelini will likely move the versatile safety all over the field in 2020 as he's built like a linebacker. He also improved in his coverage skills enough in 2019 to be effective in the back end of the defense as well.

This is where Harris becomes of vital importance. Having that experienced member of the secondary that can play deep down field will allow Pelini to be more versatile in how he uses Stevens and even Derek Stingley Jr., who Orgeron has said, thinks will be used as a blitzer in some situations this season.

Harris will be competing with sophomore Maurice Hampton, who proved to be a key piece for LSU down the stretch of the regular season. Hampton earned a start against Arkansas and played well against Texas A&M and Oklahoma, where he received ample playing time. 

The Tigers also bring in freshman Jordan Toles, who Orgeron and Busch are extremely high on. It'll be important for Harris to prove the injury is behind him when camp starts back up. 

Right now, the NCAA, SEC and LSU are preparing for a six week window starting in mid July of actual on-field work with the players before the season kicks off in early September.

Regardless of what happens with that deep safety role in 2020, a healthy Harris will be an asset to the Tigers, whether it's as a starter or a key contributor off the bench. LSU likes to rotate on defense so expect to see the veteran on the field in some capacity.