One of Brian Kelly’s first tasks at LSU last year was rebuilding the secondary.
The conclusion of 2021 saw Derek Stingley Jr. and Cordale Flott head to the NFL while Eli Ricks and Dwight McGlothern entered the transfer portal.
LSU returned almost no experience at cornerback and a group of safeties that struggled.
The coaching staff did an admirable job filling the holes, getting the likes of Mekhi Garner, Jarrick Bernard-Converse, Greg Brooks Jr., and Joe Foucha from the transfer portal.
Major Burns, Jay Ward, and Sage Ryan took some steps forward along with the portal additions, and the Tigers’ secondary did a fine job in 2022.
Kelly and the company will now be faced with a similar task this offseason.
Ward has declared for the draft and will likely be joined by Bernard-Converse and Garner. The latter has eligibility left but played well enough to earn a spot on Sundays.
Foucha, a fifth-year player, will be off to give it a shot in the league too.
Demarius McGhee and Raydarious Jones, two talented recruits who have been depth pieces for the last couple of years, have entered the portal.
The Tigers should remain fine at safety. There’s a chance LSU gets Brooks back along with Burns. Ryan played a lot of nickel this fall but has the ability to play on the backend. LSU’s 2023 recruiting class also holds three commitments from blue-chip safeties.
The picture grows murky when looking at the cornerbacks. There aren’t many in-house options, especially on the outside.
There’s still Sevyn Banks, the talented Ohio State transfer whose career has been interrupted by injuries. He made his way back on the field for LSU but was injured once again shortly after.
With an entire, healthy offseason, he could emerge as a solid option in 2023.
Then there’s Laterrance Welch and Jaelyn Davis-Robinson, two talented freshmen that impressed Brian Kelly in fall camp but took a redshirt. Without significant additions in the portal, LSU will be relying on both to develop quickly. Even if both pan out in 2023, depth is still a major concern.
he Tigers could be gearing up to add some big-time corners to their 2023 freshmen class. LSU is well positioned with Desmond Ricks and Javien Toviano.
Landing Ricks and Toviano a year after Welch and Davis-Robinson would lay a young foundation of talent and put LSU in a place where it wasn’t relying on the portal to build its secondary every year.
When LSU does start looking in the portal, look for the Tigers to get after names like Fentrell Cypress and JQ Hardaway. Both corners are two of the better players currently on the transfer market and, respectively come from Virginia and Cincinnati. LSU has staffers with connections to both programs.
LSU landed two quality corners last year in Garner and Bernard-Converse. You could even throw in Colby Richardson, who also made some positive contributions.
It’s tough to imagine LSU’s defense having the same level of success this year without them. It’ll be just as critical to land at least two quality corners again.