Projecting Who's Staying and Who's Leaving from LSU After Bowl Game

David KenyonFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 2, 2023

Projecting Who's Staying and Who's Leaving from LSU After Bowl Game

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    Brian Kelly
    Brian KellyKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The chaotic, memorable 2022 season has come to a close for the SEC West-winning LSU Tigers.

    By mid-October, Brian Kelly's debut year in Baton Rouge seemed destined to follow middling preseason expectations. However, the Tigers ripped off a scorching finish that included wins against Alabama and Ole Miss on the way to a stunning division championship.

    LSU wrapped up the fascinating campaign at 10-4 with a dominant 63-7 victory over Purdue in the Citrus Bowl.

    Kelly and Co. now enter an interesting offseason that is certain to include some notable transfers—both in and out—along with NFL departures and a well-regarded recruiting class.

Who's Leaving?

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    Kayshon Boutte
    Kayshon BoutteAP Photo/Tyler Kaufman

    The Seniors

    LSU's defense is taking a hard hit. Edge-rusher Ali Gaye, linebacker Micah Baskerville, cornerback Jarrick Bernard-Converse and safety Joe Foucha have exhausted their eligibility. Safety Jay Ward announced he will not be back, and while cornerback Mekhi Garner has the option to return, he did participate in Senior Day.


    Early NFL Draft Entrants

    After initially announcing his return for 2023, wide receiver Kayshon Boutte changed his mind and declared for the NFL draft. Defensive tackle Jaquelin Roy announced on Dec. 20 he was turning pro. Edge-rusher BJ Ojulari is expected to join Boutte and Roy in going to the NFL, while cornerback Sevyn Banks is worth watching.


    Transfers

    So far, LSU hasn't lost a contributor beyond wideout Jack Bech. That doesn't mean offensive tackle Marcus Dumervil or cornerback Damarius McGhee would not have produced in the future, but they weren't key pieces in 2022. Garrett Nussmeier did get extended playing time against Purdue, perhaps as an olive branch to convince him to stay. The greater concern is whether LSU might lose a starter now that the Citrus Bowl is over and the season is finished.

Who's Probably Staying?

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    Jayden Daniels
    Jayden DanielsAP Photo/Tyler Kaufman

    Jayden Daniels, QB

    Although he's a draft-eligible player, Jayden Daniels isn't viewed as a top NFL draft prospect. That perception has guided the Arizona State transfer back to LSU for a final season, and the Tigers will certainly welcome the return of a quarterback who guided them to an SEC West title.


    Maason Smith, DT

    In the season-opening loss to Florida State, defensive tackle Maason Smith suffered an ACL injury while celebrating a play. Smith, who recorded 19 tackles with four sacks as a freshman, will likely be the centerpiece of LSU's defensive line in 2023.


    Most of the Linebackers

    Behind him, LSU will be bringing back experienced depth at linebacker. Baskerville's departure will sting, but the Tigers have West Weeks ready to take a larger role at the position alongside Harold Perkins Jr. and Greg Penn III. DeMario Tolan also flashed his potential in a reserve spot behind the quartet in 2022.

Who's on the Way?

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    Jordan Jefferson
    Jordan JeffersonAP Photo/William Wotring

    D-Line Transfers

    You think LSU might've had priority in the portal? The staff quickly pulled four defensive linemen, highlighted by West Virginia transfer Jordan Jefferson. He tallied 31 tackles with 9.5 for loss in 2022. LSU also grabbed Paris Shand (Arizona), Jalen Lee (Florida) and Bradyn Swinson (Oregon).


    Former Top Recruits

    During the 2022 recruiting cycle, Denver Harris was a 5-star cornerback who ranked 23rd nationally and went to Texas A&M. Wide receiver Aaron Anderson held the highest 4-star billing in the class at No. 35 overall and chose Alabama. However, they're both headed to LSU after one season at their respective SEC programs.


    Current Top Recruits

    As part of the country's sixth-best recruiting haul, the Tigers signed a trio of top-50 prospects. Offensive tackle Zalance Heard ranked 28th nationally, while edge-rusher Dashawn Womack and wideout Shelton Sampson Jr. checked in 37th and 43rd, respectively.

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