Football teams look drastically different year in and year out. LSU is certainly no exception and the biggest difference for the 2020 Tigers will be starting over at the linebacker position.
Not only will LSU have to replace all four starters—K’Lavon Chaisson, Patrick Queen, Jacob Phillips and Michael Divinity—they’re also replacing the mastermind of the defense Dave Aranda. With Aranda off to be the head man at Baylor, Coach Ed Orgeron turned the clock back and hired Bo Pelini to be defensive coordinator, a position he held from 2005 through 2007.
Aranda’s 3-4 defense is out, Pelini’s 4-3 is in. Over the offseason, LSU added a major name to its linebacking unit but also lost a cornerstone from its 2019 recruiting haul. Former North Dakota State linebacker Jabril Cox comes to LSU as a graduate transfer, but five-star safety/outside linebacker Marcel Brooks transferred away from Baton Rouge and enrolled at TCU.
Cox has been one the best football players at the FCS level and will absolutely start at outside linebacker. Brooks would have been at worst a significant contributor on the 2020 defense if not a starter. Junior Damone Clark seems poised to start at middle linebacker alongside Cox, but who mans the other outside linebacker position? Could it be true freshman Phillip Webb?
LSU had an uphill battle to get Webb on its roster. A Georgia native, Webb is from Lanier which is about an hour northwest of Athens; it’s also two and a half hours away from Auburn, and the other Tigers have had recent success getting talent out of Lanier, signing Derrick Brown in 2016.
But it was Florida who got out in front of LSU, Auburn and Georgia, offering Webb a scholarship August 30, 2018. LSU offered Webb three days later and Auburn followed suit at the end of September.
Meanwhile, Alabama got in on Webb and offered him a scholarship in the spring of 2019. Webb attended Bama’s Junior Day, got a scholarship offer and then unofficially visited Tuscaloosa three times: twice in the summer and once in November. Though weirdly Webb never took an official visit.
Webb did, however, officially visit LSU and came to Baton Rouge last summer. He also took an unofficial trip to Tiger Stadium during last year’s epic Florida game. Even with an amazing Tiger Stadium atmosphere, the coaching staff had to sweat out the remainder of Webb’s recruitment process. Along with his trip to Tuscaloosa last November, Webb visited Auburn and Florida who got the coveted last official visit. But whatever impression Florida made wasn’t strong enough and Webb signed with LSU on Early Signing Day.
Five-stars (98-110 rating): The top 32 players in the country to mirror the 32 first round picks in the NFL Draft. These are 32 players that we believe are the most likely to be drafted in the first round from each recruiting class. The full list of 32 with five-star ratings typically isn’t complete until the final ranking. Any player with a rating of more than 100 is considered a “franchise player” and one that does not come around in every recruiting class.
Four-stars (90-97 rating): These are players that we believe are the most likely to produce college careers that get them drafted. By National Signing Day, this number is typically in the range of 350 prospects, roughly the top 10 percent of prospects in a given class.
Three-stars (80-89 rating): This is where the bulk of college football prospects are found and it incorporates a large range of ability levels, all of whom we consider as possible NFL players long term.
Two-stars (70-79 rating): These are prospects that we consider to be FBS-level players with very limited NFL potential.
247 Composite Rating: ****
247 Compositie Ranking: .9728
I can’t find any film from his senior year, nor can I find any senior year statistics. I’m not sure what to take away from this clip, sure he shows a relentlessness in getting after the quarterback but there’s also a handful of plays where there’s nobody there to block him. There’s a good first step, but Webb doesn’t really show any kind of pass rushing moves, he just bowls over inferior competition. He’ll have to add to his repertoire.
High End: Rounds out his game to be a complete linebacker and, along with fellow freshman BJ Ojulari, gives LSU a devastating pass rush duo along the lines of Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo
Low End: One-trick pony that gets on the field as a pass rush specialist but can’t be relied upon to be an every down linebacker
Realistic: Two-year starter that continues LSU’s trend of putting quality linebackers into the NFL and is a Day Two pick