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Where Does LSU Stand on the 85-man Scholarship Limit

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LSU will need to do some roster paring.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - LSU v Central Florida Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Managing your scholarships is a key piece of running an elite program. Recruiting is a fine art, and it may be easy enough to stack up a list of blue chippers, but, after all, what will 14 stud WRs do for you if you don’t sign anyone that can get them the ball. Too real?

Let’s take a look at LSU’s current allotment, how they distributed their scholarships and see where things stand.

Keep in mind, the NCAA amended recruiting rules so you are now able to back-sign recruits in a single signing class. That means, if you sign 22 (-3) players in 2018, you can sign 28 (+3) in 2019. You can’t, however, accrue beyond a year. So you couldn’t run a deficit in 2017, 2018, and 2019 to then sign 40 in 2020. It’s a use it or lose it deal after one year.

Current Allotment

LSU Roster

Position Player
Position Player
CB Kelvin Joseph
CB Kary Vincent Jr.
CB Kristian Fulton
CB Mannie Netherly
CB Cordale Flott
CB Raydarious Jones
CB Derek Stingley Jr.
DL Travez Moore
DL Rashard Lawrence
DL Breiden Fehoko
DL Neil Farrell Jr.
DL Justin Thomas
DL Glen Logan
DL Nelson Jenkins III
DL Davin Cotton
DL Dominic Livingston
DL Tyler Shelvin
DL Joseph Evans
DL Siaki Ika
FB Tory Carter
K Cade York
LB Jacob Phillips
LB Patrick Queen
LB Micah Baskerville
LB Damone Clark
LB Kendall McCallum
LB Donte Starks
OL Cole Smith
OL Lloyd Cushenberry III
OL Chasen Hines
OL Damien Lewis
OL Jakori Savage
OL Donavaughn Campbell
OL Adrian Magee
OL Austin Deculus
OL Dare Rosenthal
OL Cameron Wire
OL Badara Traore
OL Saahdiq Charles
OL Anthony Bradford
OL Thomas Perry
OL Kardell Thomas
OL Charles Turner
OLB K'Lavon Chaisson
OLB Ray Thornton
OLB Michael Divinity Jr.
OLB Andre Anthony
OLB Dantrieze Scott
OLB Jarell Cherry
P Josh Growden
P Zach Von Rosenberg
PK Avery Atkins
PK Connor Culp
PK Jack Gonsoulin
QB Joe Burrow
QB Myles Brennan
QB Peter Parrish
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
RB Chris Curry
RB Tae Provens
RB Lanard Fournette
RB Tyrion Davis-Price
RB John Emery Jr.
S JaCoby Stevens
S Grant Delpit
S Eric Monroe
S Cameron Lewis
S Todd Harris Jr.
S Marcel Brooks
SNP Blake Ferguson
SNP Quentin Skinner
TE Racey McMath
TE Zach Sheffer
TE Aaron Moffitt
TE Jamal Pettigrew
TE Thaddeus Moss
TE TK McClendon
WR Ja'Marr Chase
WR Justin Jefferson
WR Terrace Marshall Jr.
WR Stephen Sullivan
WR Dee Anderson
WR Jonathan Giles
WR Derrick Dillon
WR Kenan Jones
WR Jaray Jenkins
WR Jontre Kirklin
WR Trey Palmer

LSU is sitting at 89 scholarship players, if you count Avery Atkins and Zach Von Rosenberg who I’m not 100% have scholarships. Let’s just assume they do for the sake of argument. That means, before filling out the 2019 signing class, LSU already needs to cut their numbers down by four to meet the NCAA required limit. Coach O fully intends on signing a full 25-man class, meaning there will be six more players in that mix, driving the number up to 95 total scholarships and the need to cut 10. There’s also the pending legal situations with Tyler Taylor and Ed Ingram. I won’t account for them here, since they aren’t listed on the roster, but that could be an additional two scholarships if both return to the program.

Where Can LSU Afford Attrition?

This is a tricky discussion. I have no inside information, so read the below entirely as speculation and me reading tea leaves. First, let’s look at the overall breakdown. Reminder: This count does not include the additional six signees LSU is expected to bring in.

CB (7)

Considering the depth problems LSU ran into in 2018, I can’t see any attrition here. I expect these seven to remain on the roster and, perhaps, the number will grow if someone like Jontre Kirklin shifts permanently. Also a possibility that LSU signs another prospect that could wind up as a CB.

DL (12)

Building a robust DL depth chart has been a top priority for Orgeron, so again, doubt you see any attrition here. If anything, hopefully this number rises by a couple players after signing day. A player like Travez Moore is listed as a DL on LSU’s roster and he could both shift to LB (which wouldn’t help the 85 count) or be an attrition candidate (which would). Maybe a guy like Justin Thomas, if he gets passed by last year’s signees and the newcomers. Otherwise, don’t see major changes here.

FB (1)

LSU’s offense is changing but I don’t see Tory Carter going anywhere. He may be the last of his kind for a while, though.

PK (4)

I don’t think Avery Atkins is on scholarship, but he may very well be awarded one for his tremendous kickoff efforts in 2018. 4 is a lot of capital devoted to PKs. I suspect we will see some movement here based on who wins the kicking job. Connor Culp and Jack Gonsulin seem like the most likely attrition candidates.

ILB (6)

Spread across two spots on the field, six feels like a good number for inside backers in Aranda’s scheme. That’s quality depth and a couple guys that are probably versatile enough to flex outside.

OLB (6)

Ditto the above, but I suspect this number may actually go up with one of the future signees. Dantrieze Scott is also listed on the roster as an OLB but they’ve tinkered with him at TE too. So a move could happen but I doubt he’s an attrition candidate at this juncture.

OL (16)

16 is a lot. It’s the first time LSU’s had some serious depth with a combination of returning experience and incoming signees. It will be interesting to see how spring football plays out here. I expect some attrition. Guys like Jakori Savage, Donavaugh Campbell, Adrian Magee, and Badara Traore are upperclassmen that have yet to lock down consistent playing time. They may each get passed by younger more talented players, spurning some attrition.

P (2)

Von Rosenberg is the guy, so Growden could well move on.

QB (3)

A solid depth chart. No attrition expected here.

RB (6)

Six feels like a lot, but RBs can not only rotate but also go down in a hurry. There’s no one here I would expect to move on, but maybe a guy like Lanard Fournette decides to look for a bigger role somewhere. Since Emery Jr. and Davis-Price aren’t early enrollees, I wouldn’t think Tae Provens or Chris Curry get the itch to leave this year, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

S (6)

Six looks higher than it may actually be considering JaCoby Stevens is more of a hybrid player and Marcel Brooks may actually be long for LB. Still, maybe a guy like Cameron Lewis seeks a more clear path to the field?

SNP (2)

One senior, one freshman. Perfect situation.

TE (6)

Feels heavy, especially with rumors of LSU potentially signing another. Seems like we could see some attrition here, though I don’t have a standout name since none of these guys have contributed heavily to date.

WR (11)

Depending on what type of offense LSU deploys, this number is or isn’t outrageous. Shift to more multi-WR looks and you need the bodies. Continue to deploy TEs and you don’t. I fully expect Jonathan Giles to graduate and leave the program, so that spares one scholarship. Beyond that, it’s really difficult to see who might be leaving here, especially if LSU is going to roll out a lot of 4 WR looks. If all the young guys are on top of the depth chart after spring ball, maybe Stephen Sullivan or Dee Anderson look for a small school opportunity to be the lead guy somewhere.

Summary

Coach O’s got some work to do. I expect the most attrition on OL and with the specialists. You could probably squeeze out over half your spots there alone. I also suspect someone unexpected will join the list of departing talent. Transfers happen. Should be interesting to see how O manages the shakeup. These types of situations are how you set the program up for long term success and are often overlooked in evaluating coaches.