Alright y'all -- camp starts on Sunday, and LSU should have a new No. 18. Make your call on who gets the number this season?
I think this really comes down to two people: D.J. Welter and Terrence Magee. La'El Collins can't wear it since that's not an eligible number for his position, otherwise he'd be a good choice.
Welter and Magee were both at media days, generally a sign of a player that's developed into a team leader. It's moved from quarterback to running back to tight end to linebacker, just last year. I think both are consummate hard workers and locker room leaders for this team. If Welter is the choice, there would no doubt be a lot of gnashing of teeth, since his play is so often criticized. I also think there's legitimate reason to believe guys like Kendell Beckwith or Clifton Garrett can step in and play a ton of snaps at middle linebacker this year, so I'm not sure they want their number 18 on the sidelines.
For that reason, I'm guessing it goes to Magee. Veteran leader on the offense with playing time and quality work ethic.
Agreed -- Welter and Magee are the safest bets. Maybe Kenny Hilliard as well.
But then again, last year I don't think many people had Lamin Barrow in mind when the number was doled out, so lets think of some other less-obvious candidates. We know the number is likely going to a senior that has played a prominent role in terms of leadership, even if he isn't necessarily the most prominent player on the field. Somebody that's respected in the locker room, even if he doesn't get many headlines. Couple guys that fit that bill: Connor Neighbors, Logan Stokes, Ronald Martin and Jermauria Rasco could all be possibilities as well.
But to be honest, that's probably over-thinking it.
Although it's not possible, my vote would go to La'el Collins.
In the realm of actual possibilities, I'm down to Rasco and Hilliard, and if I had to choose, I'm going to say Hilliard.
Like Billy said, I don't think anyone had Barrow in mind last year when he was selected for it, and I think Welter is the leader in the clubhouse coming into the tournament, so to speak, in terms of fan opinion on who should get it.
Kenny basically spent the first year and half he was here (he came to LSU in the spring) focusing on his schoolwork to have everything set. Once fans learned he graduated, I think everyone was under the assumption he was gone to help raise his family. He's back, and I think that shows a high level of commitment from a guy that has only been the real starter for one year. He likely won't be a starter this year, and may not even be the first backup, but I think the No. 18 goes beyond how much you actually play and instead focuses on how much you mean to the team as a person.
You know, that's a really great point. Kenny really has paid his dues and made some remarkable strides as a student-athlete since his days as a recruit.
I also think Jalen Mills would have been a candidate until his latest discretion. But that should all but eliminate him since character is such a major part of it. Mills may be proven innocent, but the guys getting 18 are never in the news for bad reasons... at all.
I think his not being a senior would be a factor as well. They seem to prefer seniors.
It will be interesting to see the reaction if if is Welter. Fans are so bi-polar on the guy
It's Welter or Magee, in my opinion. Now, as mentioned by you Billy, and others, that could seem *too* obvious. But I've felt it would be Magee for awhile. I think he's the starter at RB to begin the season, he's the lone returner on offense eligible (I feel this plays apart because on Welter's side, there's seniority there. Magee's? On the line, yes, but a lot more young guys). And he just seems like the perfect fit.
Welter would be a good fit, as would Connor Neighbors or Kenny Hilliard. Corey's point about Hilliard is a very good one. I think it's one that really endeared him, even more so, to his teammates especially and the coaching staff.
But I'll say it's Magee.
I desperately want 18 to go to D.J. Welter, just to watch the LSU corner of the internet explode with rage. He's actually a good candidate for it, and he's been a productive player in the middle of the defense. But ultimately, I think his potential lack of a starting job dooms him. He's definitely a "you worked hard" kind of guy, and he's earned everything he's gotten, but he's also a guy who could potentially be a backup by mid-October.
I also agree that La'el Collins would be the front runner if he were eligible for the award. But let me throw out another potential dark horse candidate (two actually): Kwon Alexander and Travin Dural. Kwon is almost certainly going to be the leader of this defense, not Welter. He's the guy that everyone on defense is going to be looking to, and he's also the guy who needs to have a breakout year for LSU to compete for the SEC title. This anoints him as the man for the unit which is going to have to carry LSU this season. If he's the kind of player who embraces the pressure, then he's worthy of the No. 18.
But to zig even further, what about Dural? He's a guy who is being thrust into a leadership role as a sophomore, and this would speak volumes to how he is taking the offense under his wing. He's one of the biggest producers returning, but instead of just getting to focus on his new role as a starter, he also has to be the guy to show the talented freshmen the ropes. He's going to be the security blanket for whoever wins the QB battle, whether he likes it or not. Sometimes you don't get to choose when to be a leader, it is thrust upon you. Dural getting 18 would show Miles' commitment to always playing the most talented player, regardless of age, and how underclassmen at LSU aren't just expected to produce, they are expected to lead. I think it would say a lot about Dural if his teammates already felt he was the leader of this offense. This is speculation of course, but wouldn't it be great to see an underclassmen win this honor? Let the youngin's take immediate ownership of this team.
This is a long way of saying... of course it's going to be Magee.
Just going on who it should be getting the #18, I'd put my vote for La'el Collins. The guy works his butt off protecting the quarterbacks blind side and helping open lanes for the running backs. Guys on the offensive line never get the credit they deserve. Stupid number rules.
Honestly, I think it'll be Terrence MaGee. The guy has a been a fantastic representative for the football program and university. Even though he hasn't gotten as many opportunities as other guys, he's made the most of his chances and made an impact as much as he can. He'd be a great choice for the No. 18.