Alright folks, LSU starts camp next week, and by then we should know who gets the fabled 18 jersey. Who do you have pegged for the honor this season?
Is it too early to give it to Fournette?
It'll probably someone who has been around for a while, has a good reputation. Vadal can't wear it due to number restrictions, otherwise he'd be the obvious choice, methinks. Do you give it to Debo or Lamar Louis? Jalen Mills would make some sense if not for his previous legal issue.
There's no one quite so obvious as Magee last season, so I'll stick with Fournette, a guy who has been praised all offseason for taking his game to the next level.
Maybe Beckwith? Seems like he's really grown into the leader of the defense. They brought him to Media Days, which doesn't mean everything but it doesn't mean nothing either. He's a Junior now. I could see it.
Beckwith could be the sneaky pick here. We're accustom to it being seniors, but Bennie Logan wore the number as a junior. Beckwith attending SEC Media Days was very telling. They clearly see him as somebody they want out in front with a star like Fournette.
Plus, he should be an absolute beast of a linebacker this season.
I'll second the notion that it will be a junior, except I'm going with Travin Dural. It seems like Dural has been an overlooked player. He spent his first two years buried on the depth chart, and then when he finally gets to start much of focus was on the freshman we brought in. As far as leadership, he decided to return to school even though he'd likely be drafted and knowing what he knew about the potential for a bad passing game this year, along with even more talented guys coming in looking to take snaps at receiver.
Kendell Beckwith is the easy choice, and he probably should get it for that matter. However, I'm a believer that it should be a senior. I also believe it should be somebody on offense as it traditionally has been. So why not give to a player who had a record setting year last year with his 71 punts going a total of 3189 yards? That's right I'm talking about punter Jamie Keehn. He started the past two seasons, and when we last saw him he twice penned Notre Dame inside their own 20-yard line in the Music City Bowl. The guy is a game changer. And this would give LSU Football a bigger footprint in Australia much like that of LSU Basketball.
I'll give two answers here:
If we're going with the senior tradition, I give it to Jalen Mills. Yeah the off-the-field issues casted a shadow on him, but the guy has started every single game since he's been here, and likely will continue that, assuming he stays healthy. He's moved from corner to safety to help the team, and with Steele's emphasis on using his safeties to call out the defense/help on the field, you need a senior to do that as talented as Jamal Adams is.
If we're ignoring the tradition, give me Kendell Beckwith. I don't think he will be around to see his senior season, so that opportunity won't be there for him. I think he has done a lot of growing as he unfairly was thrown in as a defensive end his freshman year and then wasn't the starter and rode the pine at middle linebacker as a sophomore because of the buffet lover in College Station. I think this will be his season with a guy like Kevin Steele here, and while he likes his safeties to be the voice on defense, you know he will rely on Beckwith as well, which is a solid shoulder to count on.
It isn't so much a "tradition" for it to be a senior per se, as much as a leadership thing. And team leadership typically starts with the seniors.
I think it will go to Mills. The No. 18 is about leadership and overcoming adversity, and Mills clears both of those hurdles. He's also one of the few seniors on this team who will play a lot and is eligible for the award (We all agree that if linemen were eligible, Vadal is the no-brainer choice, right?) Mills was supposed to be a star and instead has just been a reliable starter for four years. Those are the kind of players you need to build a program, and 18 is supposed to be about shining a light on a more unappreciated player.
However, if we want to stray from tradition and give it to solely on leadership... Jamal f'n Adams. He's the embodiment of this team's attitude and it also is recognition that his recruiting class is the rock upon which this team is built. It would be a symbolic passing of the torch to the new generation of Tigers. It would never happen, but that doesn't mean I'm not rooting for it: JAws for No. 18.
I would like to see Beckwith or Mills. Both are leaders and I think the fans would be happy with either, even considering Mills' previous legal trouble.
If I had to pick another senior I'm going with Lamar Louis. Not the obvious pick, but sometimes I think the coaching staff singles out guys they want to be leaders.
I'm with Madi. I think it'll be Lamar Louis since he's been a program guy who's quietly developed into a leader and a starter. Had the off-field issues not occurred, I would have said Mills. Otherwise I'd say Beckwith.
Side note: I might be the only one who thinks Fournette will never wear No. 18 because he wears 7 for the 7th Ward of New Orleans, which is where he grew up. I'm sure he'd wear it if offered, but for some reason I think he's going to continue doing his own thing.
I think Madi makes a good point about the coaching staff singling out guys to be leaders. There's a decent chance that it is someone like Louis, more off the radar, than a guy like Beckwith or Mills who seem like more obvious choices. This year is a lot more wide open though, as opposed to last year which seemed to be an open and shut case.
This is a big point, regarding Fournette. He already has a special jersey number in recent LSU lore: the #7. He wears it for a different reason, but the No. 7 jersey has recently been worn by our best player (Zod, NICKNAME REDACTED, now Buga). I don't want Fournette to change his jersey: he's the proper heir to 7.
LSU unveiled some new marketing materials for a "25/7" campaign this week, trying to work Ben Simmons and Fournette off each other to get hoops some more hype. Marketing may not be privy to the answer, but I assume someone asked "are they changing Fournette's number?" before building a marketing campaign around it.
It should be Jamal Adams. He's clearly the defensive leader of this team and in a year where we're transitioning as a defense it might help to give that group some extra confidence. How many times did we joke this winter about just hiring him as a DC player-coach?