Just as the NFL season is fast approaching, we are approaching the day when college football teams will arrive on campus and begin their own preseason work. As a self-proclaimed NFL Draft nerd, I’m almost as excited for the college football season as I am for the NFL season. For that reason, I’m preparing guides for many notable college football programs ahead of the 2022 season. Whether you’re a seasoned college football viewer or new to it, there’s something for everyone.
We’ve already gone through many of the top competitors in the AAC, ACC, Big 10, and just finished in the Big 12. Now we’re going through the ancestor of all college football conferences: the SEC . After discussing the two heavyweights, Alabama and Georgia, we now take a look at a program that has fallen out of favor in recent years. It’s time to get through LSU’s fight against SEC mediocrity and slump.
As recently as 2019, the LSU Tigers were considered one of the strongest college football teams we’ve ever seen. Offensively, they obviously had superstars like Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson on the offensive end of the ball. Burrow connected with his pair of stunning 195-time star receivers for a ridiculous 3,320 yards and 38 touchdowns.
If you compare Chase and Jefferson’s total receiving yards to the NFL’s top receivers, the LSU Tigers pair had 201 more yards than Michael Thomas and Julio Jones, the two receivers atop the yardage list this year- the. Even more incredible, the 38 touchdowns between Chase and Jefferson were 17 more than Kenny Golladay and Cooper Kupp’s combined total of 21, which paced the NFL in this category. That ridiculous offensive production led LSU to a perfect 15-0 record on the way to a national title averaging 48.4(!!!) points per game.
Flash forward just two seasons, and LSU quickly fell through the SEC ranks. In 2020 and 2021, they combined for an 11-12 overall record, and their conference record is even worse at 8-10. As a result, the Tigers finished no higher than fourth in the SEC-West Division. As 2022 approaches, they have brought in Brian Kelly as their new head coach. Will Kelly be able to lead LSU’s fight out of mediocrity?
2022 NFL Draft Prospects
- CB Derek Stingley Jr., Round 1, No. 3, Houston Texans
- OG Ed Ingram, Round 2, No. 59, Minnesota Vikings
- CB Cordale Flott, Round 3, #82, New York Giants
- RB Tyrion Davis-Price, Round 3, No. 93, San Francisco 49ers
- K Cade York, Round 4, No. 124, Cleveland Browns
- DT Neil Farrell, Round 4, No. 126, Las Vegas Raiders
- LB Damone Clark, Round 5, No. 176, Dallas Cowboys
- OT Austin Deculus, Round 6, No. 205, Houston Texans
- OG Chasen Hines, Round 6, No. 210, New England Patriots
- DE Andre Anthony, Round 7, No. 248, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Notable transfers in
- QB Jayden Daniels (Arizona State)
- RB Noah Cain (Penn State)
- WR Kyren Lacy (Louisiana)
- DL Mekhi Wingo (Missouri)
- LB West Weeks (Virginia)
- C.B. Sevyn Banks (Ohio State)
- C. B. Jarrick Bernard (Oklahoma State)
- CB Greg Brooks Jr. (Arkansas)
- CB Mekhi Garner (Louisiana)
Notable outward transfers
- QB Max Johnson (Texas A&M)
- RB Corey Kiner (Cincinnati)
- EDGE Landon Johnson (Arkansas)
- CB Dwight McGlothern (Arkansas)
- CB Eli Ricks (Alabama)
- 9/4 v Florida State
- 9/10 against South
- 9/17 vs. Mississippi State
- 9/24 against New Mexico
- 10/1 @ Auburn
- 10/8 vs. Tennessee
- 10/15 @ Florida
- 10/22 against Ole Miss
- 11/5 against Alabama
- 11/12 @ Arkansas
- 11/19 vs UAB
- 11/25 @ Texas A&M
LSU’s keys to 2022
New coach, new QB
Before Brian Kelly arrived at Notre Dame in 2010, the Fighting Irish had won more than 10 games in just two of the previous 16 seasons. Of the 12 years Kelly coached Notre Dame, they had double-digit win totals in seven of them. Obviously they were forced to give up all of their 2012 and 2013 wins due to a lost appeal for an academic ethics violation, but it still shows that Kelly has truly revitalized a sleeping giant of a program. during his decade of work. Now he hopes to do the same at LSU.
To do this, Kelly must first decide on a new starting quarterback. Max Johnson left the program for Texas A&M after the 2021 season, but Jayden Daniels jumped on the ship after leaving Arizona State. During his junior year, he passed for 2,381 yards, 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. At LSU, he’ll have to compete with redshirt freshman Garrett Nussmeier, a former four-star recruit.
Rebuild the secondary
We’ve already talked about the stars of the 2019 LSU offense, but this defense was no joke either. Leading the way is CB star Derek Stingley Jr. After an injury to Lisfranc cost him his 2021 season, he entered the 2022 NFL Draft and was selected third overall by the Houston Texans. On top of that, the program lost two cornerbacks to the transfer portal, including their next star Eli Ricks who went to Alabama.
LSU took to the transfer portal to replace these players by bringing in Sevyn Banks from Ohio State, Jarrick Bernard from Oklahoma State, Greg Brooks from Arkansas and Mekhi Garner from Louisiana. In particular, Banks hopes to be a star for the Tigers. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten team in 2020, but injuries limited him to just nine games in 2021. The last time the Tigers called on an Ohio State Buckeye to help lead their team, they won a national title. We’ll see if lightning strikes again in 2022.
My “purple reader to watch”
The Minnesota Vikings are no strangers to drafting the LSU Tigers. Since 2015, the Vikings have selected Danielle Hunter, Justin Jefferson and Ed Ingram off the schedule with the top 60 picks. As the 2022 season approaches, there is no shortage of prospects who could enter the league in the 2023 draft.
In particular, there is once again tremendous EDGE talent with the Tigers this year. BJ Ojulari, whose broth Azeez was drafted by the New York Giants in 2021 and had 8.0 sacks last season, is among the best in the country. The younger brother Ojulari recorded 12 TFLs in as many games last year for LSU.
Ojulari has tremendous speed and athleticism on the edge, displaying it in the clip above. At 6’3 and 244, he has the frame he could very easily fill with an extra 10-15 pounds. Playing opposite Ali Gaye, expect LSU to have one of the best pass-rush duos in the nation this year. The Vikings have an emerging EDGE in Patrick Jones, but they could use a little more depth in 2023, especially if Danielle Hunter or Za’Darius Smith struggle with injuries again. Ojulari looks like a promising prospect to watch for the 2023 NFL Draft.