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

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJuly 21, 2014

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.

LSU RB Leonard Fournette
LSU RB Leonard FournetteUSA TODAY Sports

"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.

LSU WR Malachi Dupre
LSU WR Malachi DupreUSA TODAY Sports

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
PlayerPos.Rec.Yds.YPCTDs
Jarvis LandryWR771,19315.4910
Odell Beckham Jr.WR591,15219.538
Jeremy HillRB1818110.060
Travin DuralWR714520.712
Kadron BooneWR712918.432
Travis DicksonTE510921.800
Connor NeighborsFB79213.140
Dillon GordonTE68814.670
Alfred BlueRB56212.400
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.

#LSU star OT La'el Collins said seeing FR group led by Brandon Harris, Malachi Dupre & Fournette running routes, etc at 9 pm inspires him.

— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) July 16, 2014

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.

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.