With Spring Football starting tomorrow, we continue our look at some positions of interest. We have gone over the offensive line, and we've started on the defensive line, with an in-depth look at the defensive tackles. Now we look at the defensive ends.
We know that Rahim Alem is going to be a big player for us this year. He is a tremendous pass rusher who frankly should have played a lot more last year. Cousin Kirston appeared to be unmotivated for much of the year and his production was off. Alem was an animal every time he was in the game, registering 8.0 sacks despite only limited playing time.
Instead of getting about 30% of the snaps, Alem should be getting about 70% of the snaps this year, and his production should be outstanding.
Which brings us to the questions, "Who will be on the other side?" and, "Who will be backing him up?" After graduating Tyson Jackson, Tremaine Johnson, and Cousin Kirston, this is something of an open question.
Junior Pep Levingston will get the first crack at replacing Tyson Jackson. Pep's been productive in limited roles for the last couple years. He's a veteran who has waited his turn, but I can't say he's really shown the kind of potential that makes you think he's a shoe-in. If he wants to hold onto the position, he has to really show something. There are younger players looking to step in.
From left to right, we have sophomore Sidell Corley, and redshirt freshmen Chase Clement, Lavar Edwards, and Chancey Aghayere.
Of the four, Corley is the most experienced, having been in the system for two years. Corley has the distinction of being one of the last two players from Alabama that LSU beat out Bama for (Phelon Jones being the other). Corley's a big defensive end at 6'3" and 274# (if not bigger by now), more suited for the "strong side" which is the spot that Tyson Jackson has been holding down. He could also fill in at defensive tackle in a reprise of the "Express" package we saw last year.
Chase Clement is drawing good reviews as a weak-side defensive end, and possible heir apparent to Rahim Alem. Clement, as you may recall, is related to a couple of former LSU football players, including the truly outstanding Eric Andolsek.
Lavar Edwards is a redshirt freshman who could end up moving to defensive tackle, or perhaps even to offensive line.
One player who has been conspicuously absent from discussion of LSU's defensive line is redshirt freshman Chancey Aghayere. After Aghayere's junior year of high school, he was a very prized recruit, garnering 5-star status at times. His stock dropped when he suffered a fairly serious knee injury, which he played through for much of his senior year. He's been battling to recover from that injury and the lack of mentions of him is very discouraging to me. I hope he can come back.
In other injury news, defensive tackle Kentravis Aubrey will not be participating in spring practice because of a back injury, and he may be a candidate for a medical scholarship, meaning football would be over for him. Sad news, but he'll get his education nonetheless.