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2018 LSU Football Preview: Linebackers

A cocktail of proven stars and exciting talent ready to break out.

Terrill Weil

LSU returns the best linebacker in the country in Devin White. He led the SEC in tackles in 2017 and he still has a lot of room for improvement, given that he’s only been playing linebacker for two seasons now.

And he’s surrounded by a host of talented, up-and-coming players that most expect to explode in year three of Dave Aranda’s defense.

2018 LSU Roster: Linebackers

Position Player Ht/Wt Tackles TFL Run Stuffs* Sacks PBU (Int) PBU FF Success Rate**
Position Player Ht/Wt Tackles TFL Run Stuffs* Sacks PBU (Int) PBU FF Success Rate**
OLB (Bench/Field) 46 Andre Anthony (So.) 6-4, 238 DNP -- Injured.
43 Ray Thornton (So.) 6-4, 226 10 1 4 0 1 0 0 25.00%
4 K'Lavon Chaisson (So.) 6-4, 238 27 2.5 5 2 0 (2) 0 14.80%
45 Michael Divinity (Jr.) 6-2, 238 15 1.5 4 1 0 0 0 20.00%
49 Travez Moore (Jr.) 6-4, 253 Four-star recruit.
55 Jarell Cherry (Fr.) 6-3, 235 Four-star recruit.
48 Dantrieze Scott (Fr.) 6-5, 229 Three-star recruit.
ILB (Mack/Rover) 40 Devin White (So.) 6-1, 248 133 9.5 19 4.5 1 (3) 0 1 35.30%
8 Patrick Queen (So.) 6-2, 232 6 0.5 0 0 0 0 0
24 Tyler Taylor (So.)* 6-2, 242 32 0 1 1.5 0 0 0 43.80%
6 Jacob Phillips (So.) 6-4, 229 18 0.5 2 0 0 0 0 16.70%
23 Micah Baskerville (Fr.) 6-2, 233 Four-star recruit.
35 Damone Clark (Fr.) 6-4, 238 Four-star recruit.
* Suspended indefinitely.

Projected starting lineup: White, of course, will lead the way at one of the inside spots, and he’s likely to be joined by sophomore Jacob Phillips. He appeared to take control of the position in spring practice, and is running with the first team through the early part of practice. Classmate Tyler Taylor is competing with him for the job, and will likely rotate in and backup White as well welp, nevermind on Taylor.

Outside, sophomores K’Lavon Chaisson and Ray Thornton have the inside track to man the Bench and Field outside positions. Both are textbook 3-4 edge-type outside linebackers, and in the “Peso” nickel package (likely the front LSU will spend most of its time in) they’ll align in more traditional defensive end spots.

Junior Michael Divinity will rotate in at Field in some situations, while oft-injured sophomore Andre Anthony and JUCO transfer Travez Moore will also provide depth.

Powerpoint: So much depth.

It’s amazing how quickly LSU has turned around the depth chart at this position in just two years, particularly at the inside positions. Players like Patrick Queen and freshmen Micah Baskerville and Damone Clark are set to be major special teams contributors, with time to grow into the starting lineup.

It’s almost stacked like dominoes right now. White and Phillips step in — should White leave after his junior year (early talk is that NFL scouts love him, but that can change), Taylor is primed to step into the starting lineup as a junior in 2019, with Baskerville and Clark and then on. Baskerville made a major impression this spring, and showed up to campus at a carved 230 pounds.

A potential X-factor here could be true freshman Dantrieze Scott, a player that LSU’s coaches feel was a steal in last year’s signing class. He’s a bit of a project, but they love his athleticism, to the point that Orgeron has discussed moving him to tight end as well.

Pressurepoint: Are the sophomores ready?

Exciting as this all may be — and players are already talking up Chaisson as a pass-rush ace on par with predecessor Arden Key, which is some high praise. And it’s a lot to expect from somebody who had all of two sacks as a true freshman.

Chaisson and Thornton didn’t flash a ton of big-play potential last year, but they did stand out in some of the little things: gap control, contain discipline, even in coverage on occasion. I’ve always been a believer that little things lead to big things, so I expect progress in 2018.

Still, that’s no sure thing. Ditto for Phillips, who flashed some talent but also struggled with consistency. Taylor showed more of a nose for the ball, but doesn’t quite have the same athletic potential.