The dominoes are beginning to fall with LSU linebacker Kevin Minter declaring eligible for the NFL draft. According to Joe Schad of ESPN, the junior will not return to Baton Rouge for his senior season, as he wants to begin his life at the next level a year early.
LSU LB Kevin Minter (#3 LB/#33 overall) will enter the next NFL draft according to source— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) January 3, 2013
According to Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com, Minter has confirmed that the reports are true. He has played his last game with LSU.
This may only be the beginning for the LSU defense. Players such as Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery and Eric Reid could all decide to follow suit and take their talents to the NFL as well.
So how does Minter and his decision impact the LSU defense heading into 2013?
Well, it would be absurd to say this has no impact whatsoever. He was the leading tackler for LSU this season with 130 and picked up four sacks for good measure. Minter was without question one of the more consistent players on the team this year and will be missed. He also brought experience and leadership to a group of guys who were quite young.
However, due to the youth and ridiculous recruiting classes, this isn't a move that is going to cripple the LSU defense. We are talking about a Les Miles-coached team that has ranked in the Top Three in the SEC in total defense over the last three seasons.
Much like how we saw Alabama recover from losing many key pieces, the Tigers can rebound.
Besides, the coaching staff knew that this was eventually going to happen. When you have future NFL players on your roster, there is a good chance they aren't going to spend all four years on campus. You have to quickly find replacements and that is exactly what LSU has done, particularly at the linebacker position.
Kwon Alexander should quickly develop into a star player with a year on campus. He played off and on throughout the year before breaking his ankle in a game against the Florida Gators.
With his physical style of play and ability to make plays from sideline to sideline, the former 4-star recruit is just one of many future studs on this team.
Deion Jones played 13 games this year, racking up 23 tackles and three tackles for loss. Corey Thompson is an athletic player who will fit into the system after getting his feet wet his freshman season.
This also doesn't include another solid recruiting class in 2013, which has one of the best middle linebackers in Melvin Jones.
It is never a good thing when you lose a quality player such as Minter. Things take an even wider turn for the worse when that key player was a leader on and off the field, but it is part of the college process and the only way to prepare is to recruit well and have younger players ready to step in.
There aren't many programs that are better at this process than the LSU Tigers, and that is why this team should be just fine heading into the 2013 season.