Spring Football Position Breakdown – Secondary

For most college football teams, the glamour position is quarterback. If not, it might be running back, depending on the offensive system of that particular team. At LSU, the glamour position is defensive back. For the past five years or so, LSU’s most prestigious player has played at that position & gained the most notoriety. It’s not a coincidence that LSU’s most recent Heisman hopeful, Tyrann Mathieu, was a do it all defender.

This year, who is going to carry on the mantle of magnificence in LSU’s backfield? The senior, Craig Loston, has moved on. LSU returns two fantastic freshman corners in Rashard Robinson and Tre’Davious White. Will it be one of those two? Could it be converted corner Jalen Mills now at safety?
But more importantly, how will this unit perform? LSU prides themselves on secondary play & given the youth and inexperience at the line & linebacker positions, the secondary is going to have to be the strength of the defense. Head past the jump to learn more.
Name YR Notes
Ronald Martin Sr. 38 tackles, 1 INT
Jalen Collins Jr. 22 tackles
Jalen Mills Jr. 67 tackles, 4 TFLs, 3 sacks, 3 INTs
Corey Thompson Jr. 40 tackles. .5 TFLs
Dwayne Thomas So. 10 tackles, 4 TFLs, 3 sacks
Rickey Jefferson So. 6 tackles, .5 TFLs
Rashard Robinson So. 16 tackles, .5 TFLs, 1 INT
Tre’Davious White So. 55 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 2 INTs
Kavahra Holmes So. Redshirted
Ed Paris, Jr. Fr. 5-star recruit
Jamal Adams Fr. 5-star recruit
John Battle Fr. 4-star recruit
Devin Voorhies Fr. 4-star recruit
How they fared last year
This was a unit that took a while to find the right personnel & find their identity. The day one corners, Jalen Collins and Jalen Mills, both found themselves not starting at corner by the end of the season. In Collins’ case, he found himself on the bench most likely passed permanently by freshman corners. Mills found himself in safety spot duty late in the year before starting at a safety spot due to injury in the Outback Bowl. Craig Loston was the leader at the safety spot, tying for the team lead with 3 interceptions and logging 57 tackles, good for 5th on the team. Loston, though, could be suspect in man coverage. The revelation in the secondary was the growth of freshman corners Tre’Davious White & Rashard Robinson. White found himself starting early in the year & wasn’t without his growing pains, but he held his own. White was one of the most consistent players in the secondary, becoming the top corner on the team & collecting 55 tackles. Late in the year, Rashard Robinson, who didn’t join the team until two weeks before the season started, began to come into his own. Robinson, a tall lanky corner, absolutely shut down Texas A&M’s Mike Evans. Evans was held to just 4 catches on 51 yards without a touchdown. When a freshman corner can shut down what will be the top WR taken in the NFL draft, you know you’ve got someone special to build on.
What to expect
From all indications the corner spots are still locked down by Robinson & White. The two sophomores should give LSU solid play on the outside which will allow the fluid safety situation to grow as the season moves on. There’s been light info so far coming out of spring about the secondary, which is positive. This should be a strong group anchored for the outside.
The real question is what will happen at the safety spot. With Loston gone, there’s a void at leadership. In my mind, the natural pick would be Jalen Mills. Mills played well at corner, but it became evident his fire & playing style fit safety perfectly in Chavis’ system. As of right now, the LSU depth chart still lists him at corner, but if two guys don’t step up and takeover I can see Mills becoming a permanent fixture in the middle of the field. Game one, he’ll most likely be starting at safety because of his veteran experience & vocal nature.
Throughout 2013, the other safety spot was a carousel. Corey Thompson, Rickey Jefferson, & Ronald Martin all saw significant duty. Martin started the year as the starting strong safety, but couldn’t hold on as he was routinely out of position and never got a grasp of the defensive calls. Corey Thompson began to get more snaps as the season wore on and seemed to make improvements at times but also seemed to never improve. Thompson is a big frame at 6’2″ and showed good hitting ability, but also ailed from the same issues that Martin had in getting in correct position. Rickey Jefferson saw work late in the year when Thompson got injured, but we didn’t see enough to really make an accurate call. I liked what I saw from Jefferson in spots, but it remains to be seen what he would do over the course of a season. This spring, if any one of the three separates themselves from the pack they’ll sew up a starting spot. With Thompson’s size, he could really have a great junior campaign. The coaches have always been high on him & as he gets more reps he’ll gain a better understanding of the defense.
Dwayne Thomas sewed up the Tyrann Mathieu Memorial nickel back slot later in the year. Thomas, in only spot duty, tied for second on the team in sacks with 3. Thomas was fantastic getting into the backfield & disrupting plays, but we saw little of him in coverage. He won’t need to be perfect in coverage, as having two strong corners will help the interior secondary players. With a rebuilding defensive line, he’ll be counted on to pressure the quarterback especially in the early going.
 The Tigers brought in two phenomenal defensive backs in consensus 5-stars Ed Paris, Jr. and Jamal Adams. Paris is listed as a CB, but his impressive frame & athletic ability could allow him to play safety. He’s also on campus this spring, giving him a leg up on learning the defensive calls & getting work in with the incumbents. If he’s not at a safety spot, its conceivable he could get early work in nickel & dime packages.
Adams is the perfect safety for a Chavis system. He has a slightly smaller frame at 6’0″, 200 lbs., but has good speed for a safety & is an excellent tackler. He’s not going to arrive on campus until the fall, which will most likely keep him out of the starting lineup early in the year, but he could grow into a starter before season’s end.
Cameron Roberson

About Cameron Roberson

I muse and ramble about LSU sports daily. History buff & creative thinker. Coming at you from the Deep South & the heart of LSU Land, Baton Rouge.