LATERRANCE WELCH: DBU'S NEXT GREAT CORNERBACK?

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by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

@LonnPhillips


LATERRANCE WELCH (CB)

CAREER

-#101 on ESPN's Top 300 of 2022

-#12 Ranked CB (ESPN)

-#7 Overall Louisiana Talent (ESPN)

-2022 Under-Armour All-American

-2019 5A State Championship

-2020 5A State Championship

SOPHOMORE STATS

53 Tackles

24 PBU

5 INTs

JUNIOR STATS

-2 Playoff Apps.

1 INT (2 PT CONV.)


LSU's former Acadiana cornerback stands as an overtly ambitious young DB, boasting enough pedigree & physical skills to start as a freshman....yes, you read that correctly.

"L.T", as he prefers to be called, is hungry for DBU salvation.....ready to make an immediate impact upon arrival.....making his towering intentions abundantly clear in the aftermath of Eli Ricks' transfer:


When DBU needed a hero most, losing Derek Stingley Jr, Eli Ricks, Dwight McGlothern and Cordale Flott all within a short time span, no one seemed to be answering the call; Over a short, but terrifying period of time this winter, the future of the position room's stability (& ability) was up in the air:

Once Stingley Jr expectedly declared for the NFL Draft after a season cut short by injury, as Eli Ricks and Dwight McGlothern both transferred to SEC West rivals (Alabama & Arkansas) or Cordale Flott cashed in on his strongest ever season, all while DBU's architect and keeper (Corey Raymond) left for arch-nemesis Florida, the sky felt as if it were folding in on DBU purists such as myself.....even L.T's commitment wasn't locked down in certainty....

Where the hell would an answer come from????

Who would be the next "high profile, high octane, big name DB" to take the reins of a tradition started by Patrick Peterson & Tyrann Mathieu, which Morris Claiborne, Ron Brooks and Tre'Davious White continued, passing the torch off to Greedy Williams, who then handed off to Kristian Fulton and Derek Stingley Jr....who would be next in line?

Before October, the answer seemed obvious:

Eli Ricks, Cordale Flott and Dwight McGlothern would be a fantastic base for DBU to build from over the next season, and with Laterrance Welch arriving as a freshman, the prospects for the DBU room were still very promising. But once the DB room became decimated, even losing their longtime position coach, major questions surrounded the future of DBU for the first time since its near two decade inception.

Sure, Brian Kelly grabbed a couple of solid cornerbacks through the portal (Jarrick Bernard-Converse, Greg Brooks Jr and Meki Garner), yet this unit needed an injection of positive energy....a face-first plunge into the deep....a heart full of Tigers bloodlust. DBU would receive the frenzied pulse they were looking for from the most unlikeliest source: a true freshman who wasn't even on campus yet.

When former LSU sophomore CB Dwight McGlothern tweeted "we could've been superstars" to Eli Ricks (right after Ricks' departure to Alabama), L.T Welch tweeted back to McGlothern "Let's be superstars"....


Those are the kind of minerals Welch is made of....absolute bona fide Tiger steel. The fact that L.T held fast to his LSU commitment, even without Corey Raymond on staff, says everything you need to know about his upcoming dedication as a Tiger.

But to understand where L.T's career will geaux from here, we must turn back the pages and check out what he accomplished thus far:

Playing a large role for Acadiana's back to back state titles through 2019-2020, capturing 5 interceptions, roasting opponents for 53 robust tackles and breaking up a whopping 24 passes across his 2019 sophomore year, Welch's ultimate contribution came when the lights shone brightest....when his own personal adversity was at its worst....and while the pressure rose to a maximum:

Due to a May 2020 meniscus injury, L.T missed every game of his junior year except for the semifinal & title game, but when called upon.....L.T delivers:


On the final play of 2020's state title bout vs Alexandria, with the score on the edge of a knife at 35-34, facing a do-or-die two point conversion attempt, Welch intercepted the biggest pass of the season and secured Acadiana's quest for the repeat (click here to watch).

It would become a legendary play around Louisiana high school football, Welch's clutch reputation preceding him at every turn in the final year and a half of his Acadiana career.

This past season, Welch was a part of another Wreckin' Rams crew that finished with a third straight semifinal finish, coming up just short following a shootout vs Ponchatoula; Because of yet another injury, on November 5th 2021, Rams' Head Coach Matt McCullough told the Daily Advertiser L.T was "out for the year".

Holding offers from Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan State, Auburn, Florida State, Florida & Mississippi State among many others, L.T is a mastermind on the field, and yes, I do believe he possesses all the necessary tools to become DBU's next great cornerback:

Using his strong physicality at the line of scrimmage to intimidate and set forth a frustrating cycle for opponents: run all over the place....but catch nothing, Welch's ability to attack the football in the air is startling in its effortlessness; Additionally, his surgical play-making, anticipation concerning the ground game, expert athleticism when making solo sideline stops, his reading of the quarterback's eyes, next level catch-radius, and underrated pace all supply L.T with the fuel necessary to defeat any opponent, decide any game or defy all odds.


While I have little questions concerning his development at the corner slot, there are some worries surrounding the injuries suffered during 2020 & 2021:

Though Welch secured the title for Acadiana with his last second interception, his junior year was an important season following an incredible sophomore year (53 tackles, 24 PBUs, 5 INTs)....instead, most of the year was on the backburner, missing the entire regular season and 2 playoff games.

Things seemed to take on a reverse pattern for his senior year: present for most of the regular season, absent for the playoffs:

After appearing in 10 games, helping Acadiana post an 8-2 record, Welch was forced to sit another batch of games, out for the Rams' final 5 outings of 2021.

Before Welch's second injury, the Rams held 8 of their 10 opponents under 20 points, featuring 3 performances allowing 10 points or less while delivering 2 direct shutouts....giving up just 103 total points; After L.T was gone, Acadiana surrendered 94 total points over 4 games, headlined by the semifinal defeat's 43 points.

With Welch?

10.3 points per game allowed.

Without Welch?

23.5 points per game allowed.

Now, in the enigmatic figure of LT Welch, LSU have another future DBU star on campus.....as one eye is cast ahead, looking towards September 4th at the Superdome vs Florida State, I ask myself: Could Welch seriously be starting Week 1??

Alongside new Oklahoma State transfers Bernard-Converse, ULL's Mekhi Garner or LSU's 2019 National Champion Raydarious Jones (not counting nickel DBs), I have to say Welch is the most talented pure cornerback on the roster, even with 0 collegiate reps.

So...if he's not starting vs the Seminoles on Week 1, L.T would at least be right in the thick of discussion....barring any experiments utilizing Sage Ryan, Pig Cage or other versatile nickels or safeties.

This is a young man who loves LSU....

This is a young Tiger who rejected every other advance to wear purple & gold....to bleed purple & gold....

As part of a historic class with so many talented Louisiana freaks of nature, Walker Howard, Will Campbell, Emery Jones, Landon Ibieta, Kendrick Law, Jordan Allen, Trevonte' Citizen, Trevor Etienne, Shazz Preston, Danny Lewis Jr, Aaron Anderson, etc upon etc, L.T Welch stood head and shoulders above any other cornerback as the best DB Louisiana had to offer.


As for the 2022 class overall, just one or two DB names even come close to Welch's acumen.....and, let's remember: if not for L.T's meniscus injury, Welch's numbers are likely stratospheric for all 3 varsity seasons.

Is he that good?

Yes.

Can he start for LSU as a freshman???

Truth is, whether you believe he can or not doesn't matter: LSU probably need him to start in 2022, anyway.


by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

@LonnPhillips

Copyright 2022 Uninterrupted Writings Inc

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