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Report: Arden Key Set to Return for LSU

Key missed spring football on leave of absence.

NCAA Football:  Florida at Louisiana State Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Per a report in The Advocate on Saturday, it appears that LSU defensive end/outside linebacker Arden Key is ready to return to the football team when summer conditioning begins on June 5.

That's a significant date in the offseason calendar. LSU's 2017 signees, excluding those already in school, will enroll in classes then, and summer workouts begin then, too.

“I expect him to be back in summer school in June,” the coach said. “Doing very well. Still has things he’s working on.”

Key, a junior whom most expect to be a first-round selection in next year’s NFL draft, took a leave of absence from the program this spring for “personal reasons,” the school announced in February.

Key’s father, Arden Sr., told The Advocate in February that his son is healthy and “fine,” but he declined to reveal specifics. The school has asked media to respect Key and his family’s privacy.

As noted, Key missed spring practice with a leave of absence that was never really expounded upon. The line in Ross Dellenger’s story referencing Key’s son is significant, as one of several rumors on Key’s absence was a family illness.

Key remained enrolled at LSU full-time and remains eligible to play. His return was generally always expected, per most reports and sources close to the program.

Key set an LSU school record with 12 sacks in 2016 as an edge defender in Dave Aranda’s 3-4 defense, and was a first-team All-SEC pick. He was a freshman All-American in 2015 with 41 tackles and five sacks.

Key has gained nearly 20 pounds over the spring, up from 238 to about 255 — something he alluded to in a tweet last month. Key planned to gain weight over the offseason, he said last fall, hoping to play heavier than he did his first two years at LSU.

Weight, and gaining it, was an issue for Key last offseason, so this could be significant. Key is just a junior, but many believe that with another big season he’ll be one of the top underclassmen prospects for the 2018 NFL Draft. Key was listed as the 11th-best prospect in Matt Miller’s way-too-early rankings earlier this week.