For years, LSU has been a “football factory,” cranking out players who would go on to have great careers in the NFL. One position group, however, always stood out above the rest: the defensive backfield. Regardless of what Ohio State University or the University of Florida might claim, LSU is the one true “DBU.” With players like Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, Corey Webster, Tyrann Mathieu, Tre’Davious White and now Derek Stingley, Jr., the Bayou Bengals have the uncanny ability of churning out top defensive backs who go on to the pros with a “Doctorate of Defensive Back” with majors in interceptions and passes defensed.
One of the new incoming freshmen for the Tigers is hoping to add his name to the growing list of cornerbacks who made their bones at LSU and made it big in the NFL. His name: Laterrance Welch. Welch is a Lafayette, Louisiana, native who played his high school ball at Acadiana High. While at Acadiana, Welch was a three-year starter for the Wreckin’ Rams and helped propel Acadiana High to back-to-back 5A state championships as a sophomore and junior. Statistically, Welch had his best season as a sophomore, with 40 tackles (21 solo), three interceptions, 14 passes defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. As a junior, in the state championship game against Alexandria Senior High, Welch made a key interception on a two-point conversion to preserve the one-point lead that ended up being the margin of victory. As a senior, Welch was a part of the Acadiana team that went 11-2 in the regular season but was eliminated in the semifinal round of the 5A state playoffs.
Following his senior season, Welch was selected as a 2022 Under Armour All American and was listed as a four-star recruit by ESPN, 247 Sports and Rivals. Welch was also ranked as the number seven prospect from the state of Louisiana, the number 12 nationally ranked cornerback, and the 101th best recruit in the United States by ESPN. 247 Sports Composite had Welch ranked as the 12th best player in the state and the 16th best cornerback in the nation. Rivals had Welch ranked at 14 for Louisiana prospects and the 13th best cornerback in the nation. With all these awards and accolades, it was no wonder that Welch would be a highly sought after recruit.
The offers for the Acadiana cornerback came pouring in from all parts of the country, including perennial powerhouses like the University of Alabama, the University of Oklahoma, Texas A&M University and the University of Georgia. Other big-name programs also offered Welch, including the University of Texas and the University of Notre Dame. Welch was recruited to LSU by then cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator (and a six-year NFL veteran cornerback) Corey Raymond. Welch was officially offered by the Fighting Tigers on January 11, 2021, and committed thirteen days later. He still took his official visits to Auburn, Oklahoma, Arkansas and LSU. However, only five days after officially visiting Baton Rouge and LSU, Welch signed his letter of intent to play for the Purple and Gold on December 15, 2021. Welch stated in an article in The Acadiana Advocate that he decided to sign with LSU right after receiving the school’s offer. “It’s my dream school,” Welch said. “It’s so close to home. My family and friends can all come watch all of my games.”
Watching footage of Welch at Acadiana really shows off his playmaking abilities. He has explosive speed and the physicality to not only stay step-for-step with opposing receivers but also the ability to come up and make tackles in the open field. Also, with his height, Welch is able to challenge receivers and uses his length to break up passes thrown his way. Welch also has the keen ability to follow the quarterback’s eyes and can also locate the ball quickly to either swat the ball away or use his leaping ability to jump up and snag the ball at its highest point. All of these skills should translate to big dividends at the next level.
The one knock on Welch is that he does have a history of injury, especially missing much of his junior season in 2020 with knee issues, including a torn meniscus. However, he bounced back in 2021 as a senior and was back to form that season. “I just took my time with my recovery,” Welch told Acadiana Advocate reporter Kevin Foote. “I didn’t stress about it at all.”
Even though the Tigers’ secondary is stacked with veteran starters like senior Jay Ward and sophomore Major Burns and transfers Mekhi Gardner (UL-Lafayette), Jarrick Bernard-Converse (Oklahoma State), Sevyn Banks (Ohio State) and Greg Brooks (Arkansas), Welch will provide valuable depth at the defensive back position. With several of the above players seniors or graduate transfers, Welch may very well step into a starting role sooner rather than later.