LSU begins spring camp next week, and with a linebacker unit that has all the makings of being the most “day one ready” position group on defense, the expectations are high.
Led by Harold Perkins, this unit is stacked. With the return of Greg Penn III and West Weeks, while factoring in the addition of All-Pac-12 talent Omar Speights transferring in, this group has a solid talent pool.
Here’s a look into LSU’s linebackers ahead of spring camp:
Harold Perkins – Starter
What more is there to say about Perkins? The freshman from Cypress, Texas, had one of the best all-around seasons for a freshman defender in school history, tying an LSU record with four sacks in the win over Arkansas last season.
Perkins, playing with the flu, finished the contest with a team-best eight tackles with a pair of forced fumbles, a quarterback hurry, and a pass breakup. He earned SEC Defensive Player twice and SEC Freshman of the Week honors in 2022 while leading the Tigers and ranking No. 3 in the SEC in total sacks with 7.5.
The closeout speed Perkins attains, paired with his unteachable instincts, is what makes him such a dominant force for this LSU defense. For defensive coordinator, Matt House to have both Perkins and Maason Smithon on the field simultaneously is a recipe for success next season.
Omar Speights – Starter
Speights, a First-Team All-PAC-12 selection, has the chance to be one of the most productive players on this LSU defense. A tackling machine, Speights routinely makes highlight reel plays while being as reliable as they come at the second level.
After entering the portal, Speights wasted no time committing to LSU. Taking his talent to Baton Rouge over Alabama and others, the Tigers filled a major position of need with arguably the best linebacker in the portal.
Speights, who has one year of college eligibility remaining, will participate in spring ball as a graduate transfer, giving him time to get adjusted to life in Death Valley.
It was a dominant final season with the Beavers in 2022. Speights ended the year with 83 tackles and eight tackles for loss with Oregon State. In four seasons up north, he finished his career with 308 total tackles.
Greg Penn III – Starter
Penn flew under the radar for much of the 2022 season, but against Arkansas, the youngster put together his best performance of the season. Finishing the contest with nine total tackles, with five of them being solo, Penn is continuing to find his groove in this linebacker room. Look for the Tigers to get more of this version of Penn in 2023.
“It was easily Greg Penn’s best game,” Kelly said. “We challenged him. [DeMario] Tolan is on his heels. He’s making progress and doing good things and Greg can feel that and I love the way he responded. He played with great instincts, physicality, and that’s what we expect out of him.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound prospect chose LSU over Georgia, Oklahoma, Stanford, USC, Tennessee, and many others. Weeks isn’t your average three-star recruit. With Georgia and Oklahoma heavily pursuing the dominant prospect, his relationship with the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Matt House ultimately closed the deal.
It’s no surprise such highly regarded programs were recruiting Weeks aggressively. His ability to read offensive schemes and always be in a position to make a play is what has he so coveted, reeling in 18 scholarship offers along the way heading into his senior year.
Weeks comes from a rich bloodline of college football. Along with his brother, West, representing the purple and gold, Weeks’ father was an All-SEC lineman for Georgia in the 1990s. Look for Weeks to compete for playing time early.
Weeks appeared in 14 games in 2022 for the Tigers in his first season with LSU. The Virginia transfer totaled 28 tackles in year one under Brian Kelly with 15 solo and 13 assisted. Come the 2023 season, with a relatively thin linebacker corps, Weeks could see the field much more than he did in 2022.
The Weeks brothers are extremely gifted when it comes to playing sideline-to-sideline. For West he’s proven his versatility within this defense. Despite being relatively deep at the linebacker position in 2022, Weeks continued to find himself on the field to compete.
This spring, look for the veteran to take on a bigger role and compete for more snaps.