30 days, 30 topics inside the world of LSU football.
TSD is previewing and analyzing the 2014 edition of the Tigers from every angle, bringing you a daily dose of “Summer Session” each weekday through July 11, three days before the unofficial kickoff to football season at SEC Media Days.
For this final week I’m rolling out my top 25 players for the upcoming season, bringing you five players a day through Friday.
CLICK HERE for numbers 21-25.
CLICK HERE for numbers 16-20.
CLICK HERE for numbers 11-15.
When it comes to criteria, the list was assembled based on a combination of talent and expected impact. It should also be noted that I’m including Jalen Mills in the mix, if for no other reason than to show what his value to this team normally would be. Enjoy, and be sure to let me know how you feel about the rankings via the link at the bottom of the story.
10. DE Jermauria Rasco
- The senior from Shreveport kicks off today’s portion of the countdown. Rasco, 6-foot-3 and 262 pounds, enjoyed a solid junior campaign in 2013, his first without KeKe Mingo and Sam Montgomery in the fold. He started all 13 games and led the team in sacks (4) and quarterback hurries (8) while finishing tied for third in tackles for loss (6.5). Rasco missed all of spring practice after offseason surgery on his left shoulder. DL coach Brick Haley told TSD earlier this summer that Rasco is expected to be a full go come Fall Camp. No. 59 in purple and gold will resume his starting role opposite bookend mate Danielle Hunter, a legitimate breakout candidate in 2014 who should take some of the pressure off Rasco.
9. OG Vadal Alexander
- He may be changing his number, from 78 to 74, but believe me, defenses won’t have any problem locating Alexander (6-6, 342). Coming into his junior year the Buford, Ga., native has been as reliable as they come for LSU. Alexander has played in all 26 games since he got to campus, making 22 starts (nine at right tackle and all 13 last season at left guard). From a statistical standpoint he was the Tigers’ best offensive linemen in 2013, logging a team-high 810 snaps and registering a team-best 71 knockdowns. He was most dominant in the bowl win over Iowa, totaling 13 knockdowns in 71 snaps. Alexander, an overpowering run-blocker, will return to his haunt at left guard this fall, playing next to left tackle La’el Collins.
8. S Jalen Mills
- Mills’ name has been in the news for the wrong reasons this offseason, but there’s no denying the impact he makes for this LSU team between the lines. Like Alexander above, Mills (6-1, 189) has played in every game since he arrived in Baton Rouge in 2012. In fact No. 28 has started all 26 possible games, the first 25 at cornerback and the last one at free safety, where he projects as the starter in 2014. Mills, who doubles as an excellent nickel back, has made 124 tackles and five interceptions in two seasons. With him, Corey Raymond and the LSU secondary have a lot of lineup flexibility. But without him the Tigers will have to turn to younger and less experienced players to fill his two primary roles. One way or the other, we’ll see his value this season.
7. CB Rashard Robinson
- It may be appropriate that the next man up on this list is part of the reason Mills was moved back to safety at the tail end of the 2013 season. While it might have taken a while for Robinson (6-1, 163) to get through the Clearinghouse, it took virtually no time for Les Miles and the coaching staff to realize the cornerback from Florida belonged on the field immediately as a true freshman. Robinson ended up playing in 12 games, starting twice, and finished with 16 tackles, one interception and four passes defended. His crowning achievement came in the Texas A&M game, when Robinson drew the assignment of Mike Evans and utterly locked down the 6-foot-5 wide-out who had run roughshod through the SEC. Penciled in as a starter opposite Tre’Davious White, Robinson is a freakish athlete with superb coverage skills.
6. RB Terrence Magee
- The Tigers rushed for 2,630 yards a season ago as a team, and Jeremy Hill accounted for more than half that total with 1,401 yards. But Magee, the Robin to Hill’s Batman, wasn’t too shabby himself, running for 626 yards and eight touchdowns. Magee (5-9, 214) even had a higher yards-per-carry average than Hill – 7.3 ypc to 6.9 ypc. While he was efficient and often instant offense in 2013, the senior back will be asked to shoulder a heavier load this season. The former high school quarterback can also play on all three downs, equally adept as a pass-blocker, pass-catcher and a surprisingly good runner between the tackles for a shorter, quicker player. LSU will have other options in Kenny Hilliard and freshman Leonard Fournette, but Cam Cameron knows what he gets from Magee. And you can guarantee he’s ready to go to that well until it runs dry.