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What Ed Orgeron Has Learned About His Team In Early Spring, LSU Positions Up for Grabs

Orgeron says first week of spring ball highly competitive, learning more and more about each position battle

Whether it's quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker or safety, it's clear that this roster is in its infancy in terms of figuring out a potential starting lineup. But after one week of spring practices, including a scrimmage, Ed Orgeron and the coaching staff are learning more and more about the players on this roster daily. 

The big news out of the first week lies on the offensive side of the ball. As of now, it appears that any decisions on the running back group will certainly need to be pushed back with John Emery and Tyrion Davis-Price both limited due to injuries. Orgeron said the Tigers had to lineup receivers Trey Palmer and Jontre Kirklin at running back for a few snaps because of the lack of depth. 

Even safety Derrick Davis Jr. was moved to running back for Monday's practice but Orgeron thinks that he'll soon move back to safety, another position of need. Davis is one of many early enrollee freshmen, including defensive tackle Maason Smith and receiver Deion Smith who could push for playing time, though Smith is still recovering from an injury. 

"We asked Derrick to move to running back, he's a great running back so he played a little today but I think he decided he might want to move back to safety," Orgeron said. "Deion Smith I think is gonna be an excellent receiver but he's coming off an injury, he's not full speed right now, hadn't practiced yet but I think those guys are gonna make a difference.

"I can see a guy like Maason Smith moving up, he had a great practice today, becoming a starter in the rotation. We have six or seven defensive linemen that can play."

At quarterback, there was not much of an update as will likely be the case all season. All four quarterbacks are performing at a very high level according to Orgeron, who singled out how fast Garrett Nussmeier is picking up the speed of the game. 

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Of course much will be made about some of the positions on the defense that are up for grabs, most importantly linebacker and safety. With no Micah Baskerville this spring, Orgeron says JUCO linebacker Nevonteque Strong and veteran Damone Clark have really stepped up in the first week of practice. 

"You're looking at 'Buggs' Strong. He's the best junior college linebacker in our opinion and he had some tough hits," Orgeron said. "He's a hard nosed football player and then we're looking at Mike Jones, he's going to come in the summer and a chance to start at that open position. Damone is doing a great job. "

At safety, Orgeron said the program is leaning heavily on veteran Todd Harris for a position that is wide open but also quite young. Davis and Jordan Toles are really the only consistent players at safety right now next to Harris, that is until Sage Ryan and Matthew Langlois arrive in the summer.

There's also the option of potentially moving a cornerback like Jay Ward to help fill out some of the safety depth according to Orgeron, though he's still competing for that slot corner position with Cordale Flott at the moment. 

"The safety position is wide open. We may move a corner to safety, maybe Jay Ward can move there. He's [Harris] gonna have to train some young guys, he's gonna have to probably be on the field with a freshman or a redshirt freshman," Orgeron said. "He's gonna have to make the calls and that's the way it is. We've got the No. 1 safety in the recruiting class in Sage Ryan, the No. 3 in Derrick Davis. That's a position where they can come in and start and I feel confident about that." 

These are all battles that likely won't be decided until the fall but it's important to know which players are excelling during the spring sessions.

Photo courtest of LSUsports.