This week, LSU's most dynamic & explosive playmaker was rightfully awarded the coveted #7 jersey: after a season and a half of All-American level play, SEC-record-holder Kayshon Boutte grabbed hold of an honor only Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Ja'marr Chase, Derek Stingley Jr and a select few other Tigers have ever received.
Kayshon should've worn the #7 jersey last season, so the prospect of him dawning the iconic #7 in 2022 as a junior didn't just make sense, it was only right.
Who else on LSU's squad hauled in 14 TDs during just 16 career Tiger appearances, including an NCAA-leading 9 receiving TDs across 6 games in 2021, leading LSU in receiving over consecutive years, averaging 15 yards per catch after two campaigns, and of course, his epic Josh Reed-record-breaking 308 yards vs Ole Miss in 2020....
If not Kayshon, then who?
Throughout a pair of dark chapters in LSU history, Kayshon Boutte was the brightest light...and we haven't even seen him fully unleashed.
The 2020 All-SEC Freshman caught passes from three different starting quarterbacks as a debutant, and though very successful in tandem with former QB Max Johnson, neither QB or WR were helped by a porous offensive line or disastrous scheme from Jake Peetz.
Keep in mind, Kayshon also fought an ankle injury during his 308 yards vs Ole Miss, as well as battling constant double coverage since he took over the #1 WR role following Terrace Marshall's 2020 pre-Alabama opt out.
Just imagine what is possible this fall...
While the vast majority of LSU fans welcomed Kayshon Boutte's #7 unveiling, there were some murmuring from anonymous online heshers, complaining about "pay for play" concerning Kayshon NIL deals....payments & endorsements which fended off Alabama's advances.
Anyone doubting Alabama's pursuit of Boutte only has to look at how desperately Saban and co went tampering away at Jordan Addison or eventual signee, #1 JUCO talent Malik Benson....all after Boutte refused to leave LSU.
Conversely, anyone questioning Boutte's commitment to win at LSU are way off the mark, let alone missing the point of NIL or taking for granted the rare skill set of LSU's new #7.
Now, after Brian Kelly's incredible words about Boutte's leadership and work ethic, that noise falls flat on its ass.
Even the man himself, #7 admits he had to "grow into #7":
Make no mistake, Boutte is aiming to retake the throne he left dormant after a season ending injury vs Kentucky in week 6, backed by an off-season recovering from dual surgeries......all as tranfer rumors swirled & internet shit talk reached a boiling point.
If he didn't enter 2022 with palpable pressure on his shoulders, wearing #7 will only intensify both adulation or a monumental toll of criticism.
Either way, Kayshon doesn't mind...he is going to keep chasing greatness until it defines him fully and inescapably.....I believe he's very close to that goal.
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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