Why Malachi Dupre Is More Critical for LSU's 2014 Success Than Leonard Fournette

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Why Malachi Dupre Is More Critical for LSU's 2014 Success Than Leonard Fournette
USA Today

If Leonard Fournette doesn't have a big head after hearing his coach and teammates rave about him at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, he's the most humble man in the world.

Praise was everywhere.

Head coach Les Miles compared the true freshman from New Orleans to legendary NBA star Michael Jordan.

USA TODAY Sports
LSU RB Leonard Fournette

"He expects himself to be something very special," Miles said. "I think if you look at Michael Jordan, he could not have been coached to be Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan accepted the role of expecting him to be better than any. I think he has a quiet confidence there that will benefit him, and I think we will always have an opportunity to play at that spot, the running backs that are fresh."

As if that wasn't enough pressure on Fournette's shoulder's, Terrence Magee—a guy who plays the same position as Fournette and is at risk of losing playing time to the No. 1 overall player in the 2014 recruiting class—went even bigger in terms of football skills, saying that he has the chance to be the best ever at LSU.

No pressure, kid.

While Fournette was the talk of the town—or hotel—when LSU made the rounds, one freshman who wasn't talked about as much as Fournette or quarterback Brandon Harris could have the biggest impact on the 2014 Tigers.

Wide receiver Malachi Dupre.

USA TODAY Sports
LSU WR Malachi Dupre

The 6'3", 188-pound former 5-star prospect from New Orleans was one of several true freshmen that Miles expects to have a big impact on the 2014 Tigers.

"We're a team that will expect some of these freshmen to come in and play," he said. "Leonard Fournette and Malachi Dupre, C.J. (Clifton) Garrett and Brandon Harris, to name four freshmen that we would expect to have great impact on our season."

Dupre is going to have the biggest.

It's no secret that LSU is thin at wide receiver after Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. left for the NFL, but the amount of inexperience outside is staggering. Travin Dural—the Tigers' leading returning receiver—had only seven catches last year for 145 yards and two touchdowns.

LSU Receiving 2013
Player Pos. Rec. Yds. YPC TDs
Jarvis Landry WR 77 1,193 15.49 10
Odell Beckham Jr. WR 59 1,152 19.53 8
Jeremy Hill RB 18 181 10.06 0
Travin Dural WR 7 145 20.71 2
Kadron Boone WR 7 129 18.43 2
Travis Dickson TE 5 109 21.80 0
Connor Neighbors FB 7 92 13.14 0
Dillon Gordon TE 6 88 14.67 0
Alfred Blue RB 5 62 12.40 0

Returning Players are Highlighted / CFBStats.com

That's it. 

With Magee and senior Kenny Hilliard in the backfield with Fournette, running back is the most stable skill position in the LSU offense, despite the loss of Jeremy Hill. Teams will undoubtedly stack the box and force either Harris or sophomore Anthony Jennings—both of whom are unproven quarterbacks—to beat them through the air. 

It's up to Dupre to help them out. 

The trio of freshman have been impressing the veterans this summer, including left tackle La'El Collins.

He doesn't have to do it all himself. Dural has potential, John Diarse and Avery Peterson have potential, and there are other options coming in with the freshman class, including Trey Quinn.

Dupre is the one with the most upside and needs to at least present a downfield threat outside to keep opposing defenses honest. If he can, that will open the door just a little bit more for those running backs and take a little pressure off the quarterback.

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If Fournette doesn't live up to the hype, Magee and Hilliard can pick up the slack. They're proven backs who can certainly serve, at the very least, as capable insurance policies. If Harris doesn't shine, Jennings can take the snaps.

Wide receiver is the least stable of all of the skill positions on LSU's offense, which makes Dupre the most important freshman on the roster.

He's got the talent and the size to be a superstar, and if he proves it right off the bat, it will help ease the transition for whoever wins the quarterback job and keep defenses honest against Fournette and the rest of the running backs.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

 

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