Last season, safety Jamal Adams put himself into rare territory.
Adams put himself alongside former LSU Tigers Tyrann Mathieu and LaRon Landry as one of the most dominant safeties in program history.
Last year, Adams totaled 76 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, one sack, four pass breakups, one interception and one forced fumble. But after such a stellar season, like Mathieu and Landry, Adams left for greener pastures that is the NFL.
The departure of Adams gives the Tigers a big hole to fill. However, LSU has the talent to replace the former safety’s talents.
In 2016, starting safety Rickey Jefferson went down with injury. The player who replaced him for the last half of the season was John Battle. Since then, Battle has excelled in the starting safety role.
Battle will be the veteran presences LSU so desperately needs at the safety position in 2017.
The recently reclassified junior saw action in all 12 games last year and started the last seven games, recording 39 tackles and four pass breakups. That included a season-high eight tackles against the Florida Gators and two pass breakups against Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, Lamar Jackson, in the Citrus Bowl.
Battle may not be on Adams’ level (in terms of talent), but his experience is invaluable to the Tigers’ secondary. Plus, his 6-foot-2, 205 pound frame allows him to play either free or strong safety for LSU. That versatility is another strong addition to the Tigers’ secondary.
After, Battle, LSU is thin at safety—in terms of experience. But not thin at talent.
The Tigers have several former four and five star prospects waiting for the opportunity to start at safety. And the player that could finally live up to the hype that surrounded him when he first arrived to the Bayou is senior Ed Paris.
Coming out of high school, Paris was the No. 3 safety in the country. However, once he arrived to LSU, Paris was labeled as a cornerback. But after 2.5 seasons on the outside, Paris transitioned back to safety late last year.
At first, moving Paris was seen as an experiment. But the coaching staff has apparently struck gold with the move as coach Ed Orgeron has described the safety spot as Paris’ natural position and that he will do fine at safety.
If the Paris transition does not work out, the Tigers have several freshman that they can call upon.
Eric Monroe, who was the 3rd-ranked safety in the class of 2016, redshirted last season waiting behind Adams. With a full collegiate year under his belt along with being known as one of best weight room workers, Monroe could be in line to be a solid contributor for LSU in 2017.
Now, if Monroe fails to produce, the Tigers did sign three safeties during this past year’s recruiting cycle. LSU landed five star JaCoby Stevens and four stars Grant Delpit and Todd Harris. However, Stevens is moving to offense and becoming a wide receiver according to reports.
In spite of the Stevens move, it does not mean Delpit and Harris are not impressing the coaching staff. In fact, Delpit has made a strong impression so far in Baton Rogue.
Orgeron on #LSU S Grant Delpit: "He may start back there."— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 26, 2017
O says as many as 7 freshmen could be in defensive rotation.
Given that Stevens was the most versatile of the three freshman, the move could mean Delpit and Harris are the real deal.
Adams may be gone, but LSU has the talent to replace him. While that talent may all be inexperienced—minus Battle—the Tigers will have time to get them some valuable experience before they enter the rough portion of their schedule.
LSU does have an early SEC battle against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sept. 16. However, the Tigers’ do not truly start their SEC schedule until Oct. 7 against the Florida. That means, LSU has five games to get their inexperienced safeties experienced. And if these safeties live up to the hype that the coaching staff is putting around them, the Tigers should not miss Adams at all in 2017.