LSU’s linebacking group is mostly made up of guys with some decent experience that still have a lot to prove (and Harold Perkins). The guys with experience have shown how good they can be in the past, but there isn’t a clear dominant guy like Damone Clark was last year. There’s been a lot of deserving hype around freshman Harold Perkins, but the Tigers have another freshman linebacker: DeMario Tolan.
247sports ranked Tolan a 4-star recruit and the 20th-best linebacker in the nation coming out of Florida’s Dr. Phillips High School in 2022. He got offers from several Power 5 schools including Tennessee, UNC, Michigan, Clemson and Georgia, but he chose LSU in July of 2021 and signed in December. He was named to the 2022 All-American Bowl roster.
What The Scouts Say
“On the smaller side now, but should only get bigger once working with a college strength staff. Likely to eventually carry 225 pounds or more. An athletic linebacker with a highlight tape that pops as he has spent the past two years flying around making stops behind the line of scrimmage. Quick to trigger. Sifts through traffic with confidence and a sense of urgency. Ability to change directions and pounce on a ball carrier is a strength at this stage in his development. Also excels in coverage as his instincts lead to pass break ups and his foot speed allows him to keep up with tight ends and bigger slot receivers. Doubled as a running back at different points during his high school career and found some success moving the chains with his competitive nature. Multi-sport athlete that was a district qualifier in the 110-meter hurdles. Will need to get better at finishing off tackles at the next level, but is viewed as one of the top off-ball linebacker prospects in the class of 2022 given how he moves and hits people. Projects as scheme-versatile defender that likely won’t need to leave the field in passing situations.” -Andrew Ivins evaluation from 4/10/21
Tolan’s 247 page lists him at 6’1’ and 205 lbs., but his official LSU page lists him at 6’2” and 222 lbs., so he’s clearly moved up to his potential in terms of his frame. The question is can he keep his athleticism and that’s yet to be seen. His speed and agility are going to be key for his future as a potential star. He’s less raw that the other linebackers I’ve previewed and has a good chance of making it as a fringe rotation guy this season.
High End: Highly athletic and super talented star linebacker that becomes known for his speed and disruption. That potential speed is scary if you’re an opposing runner or QB and his ability to shed blocks looks good. Tolan has the potential to be a day 2 draft pick.
Low End: Mid-tier rotational guy who also plays special teams because he can’t adjust.
Realistic: Eventual starter. Tolan is really good. His speed and ball hawk ability are absolutely awesome to watch. Seriously, watch out for this guy, you might be hearing his name more over the next couple years.