We all know that in Louisiana, LSU football success is measured by one thing: national championships.
Can you win one, or at the very least can you chase one every year? In Baton Rouge, that leaves little room for error.
Ed Orgeron found that out in 2021 as the Tigers stumbled out the gate starting the season 3-3 losing several games they were favored in. LSU decided to part ways with its sixth-year coach just two years after a 15-0 championship season with possibly one of college football's best-ever teams. But the bayou is unforgiving, and excellence is measured in the now, not in the past.
Brian Kelly steps in, having found success at another prestigious school. He took Notre Dame to a national title game and finished his 12-year Fighting Irish coaching career with a 92-39 record. As the 33rd head coach in LSU history, he and Tigers fans alike hope for one thing: A national championship return for the denizens of Tiger Stadium. Here are some of the LSU players we think will get him there.
Kayshon Boutte, WR
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Kayshon Boutte enters the season as odds on favorite to be one of the best wide receivers in the country in 2022, battling for the top spot with Jaxon Smith-Njigba from Ohio State. Despite being injured and only playing six games last year, Boutte still managed 509 yards and 9 TDs, which led all other LSU wideouts, tight ends and running backs. Imagine being so good that even though you miss half the season, you're still the top pass catcher on your team. Insane.
Boutte's two previous ankle injuries are cause for concern, but if he can remain healthy, he is a future NFL star in the making, and we cant wait to see what he does down on the bayou ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.
BJ Ojulari, DE
There is a wealth of talent at the EDGE rusher position in the SEC this season, and BJ Ojulari is certainly near the top of that list. The athletic defensive end has 70 career tackles and 11 sacks to his name in two seasons. He will pressure a fair share of quarterbacks into a quick release this season, too, which will probably lead to many forced throws and interceptions for Arkansas transfer defensive back Joe Foucha in the defensive secondary as well as LSU linebacker Mike Jones.
Jayden Daniels, QB
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Jayden Daniels comes to LSU by way of the transfer portal, and we expect to see him compete for the starting job along with Myles Brennan, Walker Howard and Garrett Nussmeier in one of the most watched quarterback battles in the country this summer. In three seasons at Arizona State, he threw for over 6,000 yards and 32 touchdowns against 13 ints. Daniels didn't transfer over to ride the bench.
Ali Gaye, DE
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Ali Gaye is another Tiger whose 2021 campaign was cut short due to injury. Mid-October was as far as Gaye went before undergoing season-ending surgery, but 19 tackles and 2.5 sacks in four games last season is still impressive. Combine that with his 2020 numbers as a freshman -- 32 tackles, two sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss with one interception -- and we think the 6-foot-6, 268-pound defensive end will be one-half of one of the most dangerous defensive line pairings in the SEC with Ojulari.
Will Campbell, OT
The new guy! The highly recruited Will Campbell could have played anywhere in the country, but decided to test his mettle against those fierce defenses in the SEC. In fact, LSU was one of the first major schools to make an offer to their homegrown lineman, beating out other SEC schools like Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Auburn, Tennessee and reigning national champion Georgia.
The left tackle will almost certainly get some playing time early and go up against some of the best EDGE rushers the nation has to offer. A true trial by fire. Sure, the offensive line may not be the most glamorous position to watch for, but we are telling you Tiger fans, take note of tackle Will Campbell. The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder is going to be one of the top players for LSU this year. Unsung though he may be.
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