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Opinion: The Most Impactful Player on LSU Defense Will be

When taking account of the talent LSU will return in 2023, it’s easy to look past Maason Smith. But overlook him at your own peril.

The former five-star recruit had an encouraging true freshman season in 2021, and he was expected to have a breakout season and become one of LSU’s top defensive players in 2022.

That’s not how things played out, as Smith missed nearly the entire season after suffering a torn ACL on the opening drive of the year against Florida State. It’s been a long rehab process already for Smith, but he’s expected to be back at full strength for the 2023 season.

He’s been listed by CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli as one of the top-20 draft-eligible prospects in college football next season.

Maason Smith, DT, LSU: Maason Smith missed most of the 2022 season due to a torn ACL he suffered in the season-opener against Florida State as he celebrated a tackle for loss. It robbed LSU of a disruptive force for the season, but he will be back to full health for 2023, and that’s a huge boost for the Tigers defense. Players who can blow up an offensive line from the interior are always appreciated, and that’s precisely what Smith can do.

LSU loses quite a bit along the defensive line this offseason, including both starting edge rushers. But bringing a force like Smith back into the fold alongside Mekhi Wingo, who had a fantastic season playing in Smith’s place should help this front tremendously.