LSU defensive backs Derrick Bryant, left, and Craig Loston. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 10:06 AM
LSU’s game with Arkansas Friday will be Senior Day, with pregame festivities promising to be a teary-eyed moment for the players and families involved.
Long gone, however, is the fans’ old parlor game of checking off the seniors as they trot out, all with an eye toward figuring out what will be missing next year.
That comes later now.
The Tigers will dutifully honor their 15 seniors, but only quarterback Zach Mettenberger, maybe safety Craig Loston and Lamin Barrow, would appear to put huge dents in the depth chart.
Against Texas A&M last Saturday LSU’s two true freshmen starting cornerbacks matched the pair of seniors the Tigers had on defense.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty to replace next season.
Maybe LSU needs a Draft-Eligible Day to honor the bulk of the household names who will likely be playing their final game in Tiger Stadium.
Head coach Les Miles long ago wrote off the short college careers and abbreviated Senior Days as the price of recruiting high-caliber athletes in the first place.
This year’s early defections aren’t likely to match the 10 juniors LSU lost early last season (11 if you count suspended cornerback Tyrann Mathieu). But it figures to be significant again.
Last year it was the defense that was decimated — and it showed the effects for most of this season. This year the offense figures to take the brunt of it.
Star junior wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham almost certainly figure to make the early exit, along with running back Jeremy Hill, who will also be eligible as a third-year sophomore.
Offensive tackle La’el Collins will also have a decision to make.
Even on the young defense there has been speculation that LSU could lose both junior starting tackles, Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson. Last week’s surprising effort against Texas A&M’s offense notwithstanding, neither had a really dominating break-out year as first-year starters.
But both are ranked high enough by various draft gurus to give the move strong consideration.
Miles said he hasn’t yet discussed the different situations with individuals, and several of the juniors, including Beckham and Landry, said Monday they haven’t made a final decision yet.
Miles said he will talk with all of the players, and only hopes they make the right decisions.
“I have been as animated and as opinionated and as forthcoming as I could possibly be,” he said.
“I think it’s always going to be their decision, and I think their friends and family certainly have input.”
Three of last year’s early departures weren’t drafted, although running back Michael Ford has stuck with the Chicago Bears as a free agent, mostly on special teams. Offensive tackle Chris Faulk missed all of last season, but did manage to sign as a free agent with Cleveland and is on the physically unable to perform list.
Punter Brad Wing signed as a free agent but was cut in August.
“We have kind of suggested that the advice that they get back from the NFL be taken into account,” Miles said, “They need to give vision to what’s (been) accomplished, what can be accomplished here, what can be accomplished there.”
He added that “the reasonable chance of staying there is important ... as opposed to getting there with possibly an early departure.”
Last years’ juniors produced two first-round picks, defensive end Barkevious Mingo (Browns) and safety Eric Reid (49ers), both of whom are starting.
Linebacker Kevin Minter was a second-round pick and has played mostly special teams for the Arizona Cardinals.
Two third-round picks are also starting — noseguard Bennie Logan (Eagles) and Mathieu (Cardinals).
But another, defensive end Sam Montgomery was relegated to the practice squad before being released from the Houston Texans for a violation of team rules during a road trip.
The other two draftees, cornerback Tharold Simon (fifth round) and running back (Spencer Ware) are with the Seattle Seahawks, but both are inactive with injuries.
“I think there’s a different consciousness, if you will, based on the guys that departed (last year) and the experiences that they had,” Miles said. “I think that there has to be their personal position to be taken into account.
“So I don’t know collectively if you can do it. I think ... each guy is rendered a differing opinion, and each guy has personal criteria that he holds significant.”
“We’ll certainly give our opinion,” Miles said. “But it’s really their call.”