By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Losing two NFL Draft locks will always be a big deal in college football...for example, when Tua went down this last season, Alabama were nothing....without McMillan and Moses on defense, Alabama's usually iron-clad unit was horrendous.
But losing two standout defensive leaders on the cusp of the season, both reliable cornerstones of this young defensive unit, is far worse...especially when they're not injured.
Nearly a week and a half ago, DE Neil Farrell announced he was leaving the team to be with his Grandmother, stricken with Covid and fighting for her life in a hospital bed... We understood...Neil's grandmother was a third parent for him, the two being especially close.
He needed to leave the team in order to be there for her...that was a choice we all understood: if you don't understand Neil's choice, then you're either a sadist or you don't love your family....either way, you're definitely not a Tigers fan.
We understood: as sad as it was to lose a National Champion, a player who was so geared up for the campaign, a lineman poised for even more greatness than his D-line-leading 3.5 sacks in 2019, Orgeron and his staff weren't going to get in his way.
After Farrell's departure, LSU has now lost four National Champions from the 2019 squad this summer, #92's opt-out joining transfers Eric Monroe (Texas Tech), Marcel Brooks (TCU), Jamal Pettigrew (McNeese).
But today, Orgeron's Tigers lost a 5th member of the 2019 team, this time one of the premier talents within Corey Raymond's DBU enterprise:
Free safety / nickelback and LSU track star Kary Vincent has opted out of the upcoming All-SEC campaign, citing the obvious health risks from Covid.
Let's just say it now: at this point in the process, the harder choice for players isn't to keep playing, it's opting out. Everyone wants to play...nobody wants to take themselves out of the game or off the team...none of these guys wants to stop...but in some situations, stopping is the more responsible and courageous decision.
“With thoughtful prayer and lengthy discussions with my family, we feel that is is in my best interest to opt out of my final year at LSU and begin training for the NFL Combine,” Vincent said in a statement he posted to Twitter. “I have worked long and hard for the opportunity to play in the NFL. I’m humbled and excited about attacking this next challenge with humility, integrity, and dignity and I will always be Forever LSU.”
Wow...it takes the breath away to read that....today, LSU loses yet another huge player, a guaranteed leader, a rare breed athlete and a versatile member of DBU...Vincent was a guy who never seemed to get his full dues.
Unlike Neil Farrell who's committed to finishing his senior year, Vincent Jr is ready to begin the professional phase of his career and who could blame him?
We don't blame any of these kids or find fault in their decisions: these are prudent, justifiable choices amid such uncertainty...but overall, this news just sucks...for the players who wanted to play, for the Tiger fans who will just rejoice if we can even play football...there are so many unknowns, even with a Monday action-packed full of SEC schedule reveals, this new roster reveal for LSU felt like a kick in the face to wake up and read.
We felt Kary Vincent would have his greatest season in purple and gold, reclaiming the spotlight and finding his way to 3 or 4 interceptions (while starting every game at either free safety or nickel), such was his rising confidence and overwhelming all-around prowess.
But now that Kary Vincent Jr has departed, we look to the remaining LSU options on deck:
Cordale Flott could become the undisputed, full time nickel guy, which then promotes senior Lloyd Cole, sophomores Jay Ward, Raydarious Jones and freshmen Eli Ricks and Dwight McGlothern to the corner slot, while leaving the free safety spot completely up to Todd Harris or Mo Hampton.
Before Vincent Jr opted out or Monroe transferred, the options at both safety spots were so bountiful it was almost unfair...now, one key contributor and a DBU superstar are gone, as well as LB/S hybrid Marcel Brooks.
It's never good to lose options, especially during a Covid-impacted season in which you'll need every single player on the roster to get over the line...specifically versatile, 2+ position guys like Kary Vincent Jr or NFL Draft locks such as Neil Farrell, or productive leaders and Champions like Jamal Pettigrew or Eric Monroe...but we're going to end on a positive note here:
While it sucks to see such inherent parts of the team walk out the door, there's no wondering why they left: these players didn't damage their careers or do anything negative to themselves or LSU...there is no scandal...only a stupid virus taking players away from teams.
It is a new abnormal we'll never grow accustomed to: losing your most committed players at the drop of a hat, with unceasing regularity is terrifying for anyone concerned...nobody loves constant shuffling, nobody respects a lack of continuity...up until June, LSU fans were only used to amassing talent, not losing it...
But this isn't just an LSU problem....this affects every team. And while there's obvious sadness from losing Kary, Neil, Marcel, Eric or Jamal, the identities of our future starting defensive personnel has never been clearer.
Step on up Todd Harris, Mo Hampton, Cor'Dale Flott, Eli Ricks and Dwight McGlothern....next Tiger up....
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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