We've already taken a look at the quarterbacks and offensive skill positions as well as the offensive linemen and tight ends, the defensive line and the linebackers.
Now we'll turn our attention to the defensive backfield, under the direction of third-year position coach Corey Raymond.
How They Exit Spring … Oddly enough, with two second-year players returning, LSU is more set (and less concerned) at cornerback. Guess that's just the new reality of college football these days. In rising sophomores Rashard Robinson and Tre'Davious White, the Tigers have the present and near future locked down on the islands. The outlook at safety, where ironically LSU features a host of juniors and seniors, isn't anywhere near as definitive following what can only be described as an injured spring, one that limited the development of several key players competing for time in the rotation. Junior-to-be Corey Thompson missed the entire spring, rehabbing a knee injury, while senior Ronald Martin was forced to miss the spring game with an undisclosed injury. Converted corner Jalen Mills is realistically the only lock to start at safety, but the race for the other spot (and duties in dime/Mustang packages) remains open leading into the fall. Martin, Thompson and Rickey Jefferson, who had a couple of hard hits in the spring game, are all viable options.
Addressing Spring Storyline … The question posed in the above primer on March 6: "How good can Mills be at safety with a whole offseason of training at the position?" The answer: It's incomplete considering there's still plenty of offseason to go, but so far so good for the DeSoto, Tex., native and his transition in the secondary. Here's what he had to say about the move following the spring game: "It's been going very good. I know the defense kinda in and out right now. I've still got some learning to do, but it's been going pretty good." There's nothing like game experience, which Mills got some of at safety during the Arkansas and Iowa games, but the next-best thing are practice reps. He got a ton of those this spring as a starter at safety and also got to work alongside both Jefferson and Martin. In either case Mills was the primary communicator. Having to adjust to different personnel, and keeping them all in the correct positions, will bode well for the new quarterback of LSU's secondary come this fall.
Offseason Priorities … As Miles would say, "a return to health" is required for safeties Martin and Thompson. Having those two options available will give Raymond a full deck to choose from in the back. It's also important that Robinson heed the lessons thrown his way this spring (when he was at times demoted to second team for reportedly showing up late to meetings). He is a rare talent, but LSU will need him to stay grounded and focused to ensure cornerback is a position of strength in 2014. This offseason provides a platform for Robinson to transform from a young player into a leader who shoulders responsibility. Finally, in light of the fact that LSU typically goes 6-8 deep in its secondary rotation, players like Dwayne Thomas and freshman Ed Paris will have to arrive ready to roll in August as those two – and others – will be vying for spots in the Tigers' dime and Mustang packages.