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LSU Football 2023 Position Preview: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Malik Nabers has next, while the tight end room might be the most talented its ever been

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For as long as LSU fields a football team, it won’t matter if the head coach is Brian Kelly, Ed Orgeron, Les Miles, Nick Saban, Gerry DiNardo, or even you or me, the Tigers will always be able to field top-tier wide receivers.

Four and five-star receivers grow on trees in Louisiana and the Tigers, once again, have a wide receiver room chock full of future pros, headlined by yet another future first round pick.

2023 LSU Wide Receivers

Player Height/Weight Catches Yards Touchdowns YPC Miscellaneous
Player Height/Weight Catches Yards Touchdowns YPC Miscellaneous
1 Aaron Anderson (Rs. Fr.)* 5'8"/180 N/A 1 Game Played
2 Kyren Lacy (Sr.) 6'2"/212 24 268 0 11.2
6 Shelton Sampson (Fr.) 6'4"/190 Four-star freshman
8 Malik Nabers (Jr.) 6'0"/199 72 1017 3 14.1 Led the SEC in receptions, 2nd in yards
11 Brian Thomas Jr. (Jr.) 6'4"/201 31 361 5 11.6
12 Kyle Parker (Fr.) 5'11"/190 Four-star freshman
14 Jalen Brown (Fr.) 6'1"/173 Four-star freshman
17 Chris Hilton Jr. (Rs. Soph) 6'0"/183 7 109 0 15.6 4 Games Played
24 Landon Ibieta (Rs. Fr.) 5'11"/192 2 15 0 7.5 1 Game Played
33 Javen Nicholas 5'9"/181 1 2 0 0 2 KRs, 39 yards
82 Khai Prean (Fr.) 6'0"/196 Four-star freshman

*At Alabama

Rising junior Malik Nabers burst onto the scene in 2022 with an SEC-leading 72 catches and became only the 10th Tiger to ever record a 1,000 yard season. I bought a lot of Nabers stock when he came to campus, but even I didn’t expect this from him. He had the season in 2022 that Kayshon Boutte should have had and because of hands, speed, and tenacity, he looks to be one of the first receivers taken in next April’s draft.

Nabers ended the 2022 season on a high note with a 9-catch, 163-yard effort against Purdue in the bowl game and it shouldn’t be a surprise if he’s an early contender for the Biletnikoff Award.

Brian Thomas Jr. is also draft-eligible at season’s end and a strong junior season should catapult him into Day 2 of the draft. There just aren’t many humans with his height, wingspan, and leaping ability.

Nabers and Thomas are LSU’s top two options out wide, but they do bring back Kyren Lacy who played in all 14 games last season. LSU will need a solid season out of Lacy because the Tigers lost a ton of experience with Jaray Jenkins exhausting all of his eligibility, Jack Bech transferring, and Boutte going pro. And if this clip from the Spring Game is a sign of things to come, then the LSU passing game should be in good hands if Lacy’s the third option.

Speaking of veterans, Chris Hilton Jr. is back for a third season in the purple and gold, and hopefully this will be the year he stays injury free. The former top-100 overall prospect has been limited to just eight games through two season in Baton Rouge, but if he’s healthy he can be a serious deep threat.

Aaron Anderson is one of the marquee transfers that Brian Kelly and company were able to pluck out of the transfer portal. Anderson was a five-star prospect coming out of Edna Karr, and actually jumped Will Campbell to claim the title of Louisiana’s No. 1 prospect in the 2022 cycle. Injuries derailed Anderson’s lone season at Alabama however, as he was limited to just one game. Even if he finds it hard to crack the receiver rotation, Anderson should at the very least be LSU’s punt returner in 2023.

The LSU receiver room will look very different in 2024. Nabers and Thomas are both likely off to the NFL, and Lacy, a senior, will have a decision to make. To keep the room stocked, LSU went out and signed four four-star receivers headlined by Catholic High’s Shelton Sampson, and Jalen Brown out of Miami.

LSU puts receivers into the NFL better than just about any other program, and Sampson looks like that next Louisiana kid turned first round draft pick. While I’m high on Sampson, Brown’s actually the more highly touted prospect according to 247. Brown is the No. 68 player in the 2023 cycle, while Sampson is 83rd. Brown is built like Nabers, Anderson, and Hilton: a tad on the smaller side but can absolutely fly.

While Brown and Sampson are getting all the hoopla, don’t be surprised if LSU’s other two receiver signees, Kyle Parker or Khai Prean, end up making a name for themselves before their time in LSU is done. Like I said, LSU produces NFL receivers like few other programs, and Prean and Parker both have that Russell Gage/DJ Chark under-the-radar potential.

A year ago tight end might have been the biggest weakness on LSU’s roster. But for Thad Moss’s 2019 season, Tiger tight ends have historically been criminally underused.

Then came Mason Taylor and his skillset coupled with Brian Kelly’s reputation for developing tight ends has suddenly flipped everything we knew about Tiger tight ends on its head.

2023 LSU Tight Ends

Player Height/Weight Catches Yards Touchdowns YPC
Player Height/Weight Catches Yards Touchdowns YPC
83 Jackson McGohan (Fr.) 6'3"/235 Three-star freshman
84 Mac Markway (Fr.) 6'4"/242 Four-star freshman
86 Mason Taylor (Soph.) 6'5"/245 38 414 3 10.9
89 Ka'Morreun Pimpton (Fr.) 6'6"/237 Four-star freshman

Taylor cemented himself as an LSU legend for catching the game-winning two-point conversion to beat Alabama last November. But his freshman season isn’t just one single catch, it’s one of the best years an LSU tight end has ever had.

His 38 catches were the second most by an LSU tight end in a single season; his 414 yards were third most. He did that as an 18-year-old and it earned him a freshman All-SEC selection. There’s a chance Taylor leaves LSU as the most productive tight end in program history.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that recruits saw what Taylor did and said to themselves “I want in on that.” LSU wound up signing three tight ends, including two of the top-15 at the position: Ka’Morreun Pimpton out of Fort Worth, and Mac Markway from the St. Louis area.

While Markway is probably more readymade for college football, Pimpton is one of those physical specimens who, if he can harness everything, could be something we’ve never seen before from an LSU tight end. Don’t sleep on Jackson McGohan either. Listed at 6’3” and 235, he could get on the field this fall in jumbo packages, and it’s only up from there. His projection per 247 is a Power 5 starter. If being a starter in the SEC is “only” what McGohan is projected to be then I’ll count that as a recruiting win for Kelly and Denbrock.