by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
While some other schools may point to their own receiving corps with delight and wonder, most haven't seen the Tigers' group.....hell, many of those institutions and people have no clue who half of our WRs even are....and that's exactly where we want 'em:
Among Mickey Joseph's towering group, there are some Tigers who are only in their second year after receiving little to no opportunity during 2020 (Koy Moore, Alex Adams); there's about 6 or 7 Tiger WRs who could play their way into contention, however within LSU's wide receivers group are veterans resisting the continuous pressure and expectation nipping at their heels, playing each rep with targets on their backs.....all while four stunning freshmen come for their jobs.
It's a rough and tough position for program warriors like Jontre Kirklin to find himself in, especially after a 200+ yard receiving day during last spring's nationally televised exhibition.
But to be the best, you have to beat the best....which may, at times, even include your own teammates at LSU.
In fall camp, Kirklin has made strides, pulling off one of the highlights of the off-season: inside the red zone, Choo Choo proceeded to shake & bake an LSU corner, turning him inside out before reaching high above for a sick one handed grab.
Although capable of making a game-changing play on any snap, overall his camp hasn't reached the heights his coaches were expecting from the super senior; Holding the highest number of drops from 2020, Jontre continues to have problems maintaining his grasp of the football.
Still, I forecast him to make at least 10 major plays across this season, featuring 3 regular seasons touchdowns (2 extra if LSU head to the CFP).
If LSU play for a National Championship in 2021, I have a feeling Jontre Kirklin will play a deciding role...I just have a feeling he'll make some circus play when LSU really need it...and only he can deliver.
Elsewhere, 2019 freshmen Trey Palmer and Jaray Jenkins are both third year members of LSU's championship team, neither were even in Mickey Joseph's main wide receiver rotation, both being true freshmen at the time, stuck on the depth chart behind the greatest receiving trio in college football history.
Trey Palmer has shined as a returner, scoring a historic, streak-ending kickoff return vs South Carolina last year (the first inside Tigers' stadium since 1981), preceded by a crazy punt return in 2019; still, many are disappointed in Palmer's lack of development as a receiver, with Mickey Joseph notably running him hard during this fall camp....a true make or break time for Trey with all these freshmen in behind.
Jaray Jenkins had some huge moments last year, stepping up vs Mississippi State when his team needed him most (that big 3rd down and impossible catch), his opening touchdown vs #6 Florida...averaging over 17 yards per catch, Jaray set himself up as an occasional deep threat; However, the key word there is "occasional"....LSU's quarterbacks seldom targeted #10, except for moments of desperation.
These three veterans have a ton of pressure riding on them to deliver right now...not only in the coming campaign, but every day leading all the way up to September 4th vs UCLA.
WRs Coach Mickey Joseph would ideally love to see his veterans show the ultra-promising 2021 receivers the way, but no matter what the age, status or name, the best players will take the field for LSU's offensive setup.
Could that include Koy Moore???
Sophomore Koy Moore has caught over 10,000 passes now, according to Coach Ed Orgeron, and while the second year man shouldn't feel imminent pressure to seal a starting spot, his development would greatly decline if he were to be passed over in 2021 by a four man group of freshmen.
I feel like Koy will shine in a supporting to lead role during 2021, just as we predicted in our pre-season profile on the former Rummel High Raider.
Right now, I feel the veteran receiver who's made the biggest strides in fall camp has to be Trey Palmer, showing out after the catch, making explosive plays over the middle of the field, pulling off a silky one handed grab over Cordale Flott, backing it up by using more physicality at the line:
After one jamming drill rep where WRs Coach Mickey Joseph challenged him by saying "you just got had" after Trey was slapped by fellow receiver Jaray Jenkins at the line. Incurring the wrath of Mickey yet again, Palmer looked pissed....#33 had enough.
On the next snap, Trey dipped inside then burst to the outside, bashing Jenkins out of his way with a swat straight out of Dikembe Mutumbo's playbook....let's just say Joseph was surprised....smacking his lips in excitement.
Alongside newfound physicality, Trey is finally concentrating on the ball, rarely dropping passes now and putting the entire package together....one step at a time. It's been tough to put all of Trey's "100 mph" attributes together.....learning how to straddle the line without crossing it, learning when to harness your powers, when to hold 'em back and just make the catch first....he's learning all of these little details which separate the best from the serviceable.
Regardless of where he landed on my Week 1 depth chart, he's shown the most improvement of any veteran wide out this August...and it's made a big impression upon Mickey Joseph.....his longtime receivers coach....one of his biggest supporters and, also, the man who felt he had to be "hard as hell" on Trey to help #33 reach his maximum.
Well, right now thanks to their mutual efforts, Trey is closer than ever before....
LSU's freshmen receivers can sense their time has already arrived, potentially guiding their way to the starting unit.....Still, I expect Palmer, Jenkins, and Kirklin to have something to say about that.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
SHOUTOUTS: TO ALL THE TIGERS WRs, LET'S GEAUX BABY!!