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LSU Needed Help at Every position on, Defensive Side of the Ball and They got it Thru the Portal.

The Tigers were in desperate need of quality veterans and young potential stars it could build the defense around for years to come. While that’s something that usually comes in the form of freshmen talent, the 2023 portal haul was No. 1 in the country for a reason.

Of the top 25 ranked defensive transfers in this past portal cycle, three wound up at LSU in cornerbacks Denver Harris and Zy Alexander, as well as defensive lineman Paris Shand. Harris was ranked as the No. 3, Alexander No. 9 and Shand No. 15 best portal additions.

The best version of this secondary will be when Harris fulfills his true potential many saw coming out of high school as a five-star prospect. The hope is that it could come immediately as a new culture and expectations will help him adjust to Baton Rouge and this new SEC West situation quickly.

In 2022 as a true freshman at Texas A&M, Harris recorded 14 tackles with three passes defended but only appeared in five games. What’s most important is that Harris will have three years of eligibility with the Tigers, meaning at least two more seasons where he can potentially assert himself as one of the best defensive backs in the SEC.

“The No. 2 cornerback in the transfer portal this cycle, Harris fills an immediate hole in LSU’s secondary as a plug-and-play starter.”

As for Alexander, he’s more of an experienced player, having started at Southeastern the last three years and recorded nearly 100 tackles, 12 pass breakups and nine interceptions. A long corner with 6-foot-2 size, Alexander isn’t the biggest in size but he’s quick with his movements, and there’s a lot of strong buzz around him for when the Tigers return from spring break next week.

There are a number of transfer and freshmen defensive backs in the secondary that will need to be incorporated into the defensive scheme. Luckily, this is a staff that just underwent a near complete overhaul to the secondary in year one under Brian Kelly.

That group had a ton of veteran leadership and experience so it’ll be on returning players like Greg Brooks and Major Burns to really set the tone for how the secondary will operate with younger but still very talented players on the roster.

As for Shand, he looks every bit the 6-foot-4, 267 pounds he’s listed as on the official roster page. With Ali Gaye and BJ Ojulari off to the NFL, the Tigers needed to add some pass rushers with not only finesse on the edge but some power and size as well. That’s where a player like Shand comes in, who likely won’t be asked to drop in coverage a lot but can make life difficult with his physicality.

Shand and Quency Wiggins are prime candidates to take over for Gaye on one side of the defensive line while freshmen Dashawn Womack and Jaxon Howard, as well as Texas transfer Ovie Oghoufo will rotate at that JACK linebacker spot Ojulari left behind.

There will be many more defensive transfers who are relied upon, including linebacker Omar Speights and defensive tackle Jordan Jefferson, who Kelly pointed out by name in his first spring press conference.

The foundation returning will be Mekhi Wingo and Maason Smith up front, Harold Perkins and Greg Penn at linebacker with Burns and Brooks being the secondary leaders. That’s enough of a core to get these newcomers to start understanding the expectations of what’s being asked on a daily basis.

This defense is where the questions will come this offseason, mainly because of all the new faces that must fit into the scheme. Spring will start to tell us what those rotations look like to some degree but this will be an all offseason kind of venture for the Tigers once again.