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What Addition of Defensive Back Major Burns Means for LSU Football

Burns brings depth to secondary, will compete for playing time along side a ton of local prospects

LSU landed Georgia transfer Major Burns on Tuesday. The Baton Rouge native helps LSU replenish its safety depth chart in a multitude of ways.

One of the top Louisiana recruits for the class of 2020, Major Burns signed with the University of Georgia. LSU was Burns’ original choice before backing off his commitment in December of 2019. Burns played his prep football for Baton Rouge (La.) Madison Prep Academy. He was a coveted prospect for good reason.

Burns provides a valuable all-around-skill set for the deep secondary, and he’s not just a free safety either. Listed at 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, Burns provides three unique attributes for LSU’s secondary.

Burns Will Be A Versatile Safety

First and foremost, Burns is a long-levered prospect. He’s built much like current LSU cornerback Eli Ricks. Burns’ arm length appears to be much like Ricks, and he is far better in coverage than most safety prospects because of that length. Next, Burns provides range.

Whether it’s coming down to tackle a slot receiver or blowing up a screen pass near the line of scrimmage, Burns has the speed to play in the modern era of college football of throwing the football to the perimeter of the defense and allowing an athlete to make a play in space. That speed and length combined will help him defend against wide receivers, tight ends or running backs. Finally, Burns brings wide receiver skills to LSU.

Too many defensive backs drop easy interceptions. Burns, on the other hand, played wide receiver and safety for Madison Prep Academy. He’s no stranger to catching the football. When he earns the opportunity to make an interception, he will be far more likely to make a play than many other safeties. Despite Georgia’s high level of talent, Burns played for the Bulldogs as a freshman last fall.

Burns’ Time With Georgia

According to the University of Georgia Athletics website, Burns appeared in six games for the Bulldogs. During those games -- Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina, Missouri and Cincinnati -- Burns registered five tackles, with three of those tackles coming against the Gators.

What To Expect Now That Burns Will Attend LSU

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Like any other player, Burns must earn his playing time through performing on the practice field, in the weight room, proper nutrition, and film study. There’s certainly opportunity to play, as LSU is trying to find the proper combination of players at free and strong safety.

Could Burns jump into the two-deep depth chart this fall, absolutely. He’s talented enough to make the necessary strides. With that being said, LSU still has senior Todd Harris, Jr. and junior Jay Ward as the likely starters this fall, with Ward being a player with cornerback experience. Ward’s transition to safety is an important factor beyond just another body at safety.

Yes, the Tigers needed more help at safety, but Ward has natural cover skills. LSU coach Ed Orgeron needed more players with ball skills at safety. That’s something that Burns also brings to the LSU safety depth chart, and it could bode well for him during the 2021 season and beyond, much like Ward and his position flexibility.

Burns could be a candidate to play the newly found “rover” position that college football fans will continue to hear during podcasts. This is the hybrid safety-linebacker position that’s commonplace at the college and NFL level. A player that can tackle near the line of scrimmage, yet still possesses the coverage skills to run with a wide receiver. With Burns, the LSU defensive staff can utilize his length, range, and ball skills closer to the line of scrimmage if it chooses. How Burns transitions this summer and fall will impact LSU’s 2022 recruiting class.

How Burns Impacts LSU Recruiting

The 2020 LSU recruiting class included one safety, Jordan Toles from Saint Francis Academy in Baltimore, Md. The 2021 LSU recruiting class was a bumper crop of safety recruits, including Derrick Davis, Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway, Sage Ryan, Lafayette (La.) Lafayette Christian Academy, and Matthew Langlois, New Roads (La.) Catholic of Pointe Coupee. Adding Burns to LSU’s 2020 class provides depth and flexibility.

The Tigers now have the numbers needed from its 2020 and 2021 classes to help shore up a deep secondary that simply lacked the playmaking ability that LSU generally produces. Bringing in the talent is just the beginning of the process, but each of the five players brought in between the 2020 and 2021 classes, plus the transfer of Burns, has legitimate SEC talent. It could impact 2022 recruiting as well.

2022 Scholarship Numbers

Not only does Burns take one of the scholarships for LSU’s roster, but it's a safety scholarship. With top target Jacoby Mathews already committed to the Tigers, the Ponchatoula (La.) High School prospect gives the Tigers their first 2022 safety recruit. Perhaps LSU takes one more safety, although that’s probably unlikely. Burns is at least already on campus this summer and allows the LSU coaching staff different options. There are still safety targets that LSU will likely go after.

Much depends on how prospects perform during LSU’s camps this June. It’s common for high school prospects on the fence of being offered by a major program like LSU to earn offers during a college summer camp, so keep that in mind. One never knows when an off-the-radar target will emerge at a summer camp. Additionally, there are several versatile in-state defensive backs that could play cornerback or safety, as well as a few national names the Tigers could land that project specifically at safety.

The projection is that the Tigers will take one more prospect pegged for safety play, and it will likely be a big-time prospect considering the long list of options available. LSU is finally catching up with safety scholarship numbers and the 2022 recruiting class should place the Tigers right where it needs to be for the 2022 season and beyond. Burns is certainly a welcome addition to help place the LSU secondary on the right track.