Free agents becoming new norm
Forget about Joe Burrow.
Well, don’t forget about him, exactly.
By all accounts, the graduate transfer from Ohio State is the key to LSU’s season this year because he plays quarterback and is in Baton Rouge, or so the scuttlebutt goes, to rescue the Tigers from their own haphazardly helpless recruiting at the position.
Nothing new — the rare success LSU as had quarterback this decade has come from transfers Zach Mettenberger and Danny Etling.
That’s understandable. LSU knows that drill by now.
Burrow will likely win the spot. We all know that.
But that’s the least of it.
For a school that — other than quarterback — is known for always recruiting up there amidst the nation’s top percentiles, LSU sure is going to be relying heavily on transfers across the board this year.
They’re everywhere you look — at positions LSU usually has no trouble filling.
Some fell into their laps, some the Tigers went after.
But Burrow is one of six who should start or at least contribute significantly, and there are two or three more who are just an injury or two from being thrust into the lineup. Among them would be Thaddeus Moss, a tight end who’s the son of NFL Hall of Famer Randy Moss by way of North Carolina State.
All told, I counted 17 on the roster who signed with somebody other than LSU out of high school.
You’ll know many of them by the end of the season.
For instance, you normally go transfer shopping at pass-happy Texas Tech to find wide receivers, and maybe that’s what LSU was doing when instead it found Breiden Fehoko, who must have stood out in the line of a Red Raiders defense not otherwise known for stopping much more than a gnat.
Fehoko — you’ll know he’s made it when LSU fans can pronounce the Hawaii native’s name — is an athletic 6-foot-4, 291 pounds who got rave reviews biding his time creating havoc on the scout team while sitting out last year. He’s the starting nose guard.
Jonathan Giles is what the Tigers were probably looking for at Texas Tech. He fits the stereotype.
Giles will feel right at home if offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger is true to his vow of throwing it all over the lot.
As a sophomore Giles caught 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns at Tech. LSU has a lot of homegrown potential at the position, but that’s more of every number than all of other Tigers receivers combined have in their careers, tight ends included.
If Burrow is the real deal and Ensminger isn’t bluffing, he’s going to be a star and probably won’t be around for his senior season.
Damien Lewis is more the traditional transfer, from Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he was the nation’s top-ranked offensive lineman. He was going to start somewhere on LSU’s thin line, and Ed Ingram’s indefinite suspension made right guard an easy choice.
DBU doesn’t usually need supplemental help, but Terrence Alexander will be in LSU’s defensive backfield somewhere as a graduate transfer from Stanford. Maybe cornerback, maybe nickel back, but he played in 41 games at his old school.
The New Orleans native wasn’t interested in LSU coming out of high school — he said he wanted to get out of the state — but wanted to come home after graduating early.
He kind of wears his Stanford degree on his sleeve, as when he sent reporters scurrying for dictionaries during a recent gang interview when he used the word “outlier” at least a half-dozen times to explain that Stanford was more like an SEC school in football style and theory than the rest of the Pac-12 (the Cardinal believed in defense).
Finally, you had to witness LSU’s slapstick field goal kicking last year to believe that the Tigers could go to something called Assumption College — Google it; it’s in Worcester, Massachusetts, known more for its liberal arts than any football prowess, although it did produce Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly — for a graduate transfer upgrade at the spot.
That’s where the Tigers found Cole Tracy, a Division II wonder leg who will at least have a somewhat shorter commute to his new school from his home in Camarillo, California.
He was the most accurate kicker in Division II last year, 27 of 29, while LSU’s kickers were bonking it around at a 16-for-27 clip while fans covered their eyes in horror.
But he’s in for a culture shock.
Tracy and Assumption played their games in Multi-Purpose Stadium — yes, that’s the official name; at least they didn’t sell out for corporate largess — which according to the literature has “an elevated grandstand seating for approximately 1,200 spectators” (note: they also went to great pains to construct a “President’s Box”).
That’s a little misleading. At one game Assumption crammed in 2,814 fans for the big grudge match against Long Island University Post.
However, it’s unclear if all those seats were “elevated.”
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at email@example.com