Updated: Feb 10
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by Lonn Phillips Sullivan
Coach Orgeron has spoke many times about LSU geauxing after multiple linebackers within the 2021 transfer portal, aiming for the best possible available.
Considering the attributes and profile of Damone Clark and Micha Baskerville, LSU should be looking for an alpha to be their new MIC LB for 2021. Damone's best abilities are as a run-stuffing SAM, not playing in coverage or being forced side to side. Micha Baskerville possesses fantastic pace and gained significant weight, girthing up to be able to stop bigger running backs as well as covering tight ends....if either has a chance at the MIKE LB spot, it's Micha.
- Keep in mind, while SEC schools have most of Division I's top talent, an SEC to SEC transfer is still subject to a 1 year waiting period...so, despite their versatile talents and SEC pedigree, Henry To'o To'o or Quavaris Crouch out of Tennessee may be off the table considering LSU doesn't need LBs for 2022....they need them now.
Of course, this could all change if the NCAA are willing to issue waivers (the Arik Gilbert to Florida situation should tell us how they will proceed for the rest of this 2021 offseason).
- With that in mind, here are LSU Odyssey's LB Transfer Portal Shopping List:
Including a few confirmed LSU targets and a couple guys who caught our eye:
CONFIRMED LSU TARGET
PALAIE GAOTEOTE IV
Out of Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Palaie Gaoteote IV was once the #1 ILB of the 2018 class, registering at 1 overall from the 247 Composite.
LSU were among 32 schools who offered Palaie out of Bishop Gorman and I could see his size, athleticism and strengths as a MIKE LB being invaluable to an LSU defense desperately looking for LB help.
At 105 total tackles (51 solo), 7.5 TFLs and 2 sacks, Gaoteote has only played 17 total games in his USC career...
I feel like LSU will geaux hard after such a talent like Palaie, especially considering Orgeron's USC connections, the Tigers' burgeoning Polynesian community on roster & Gaoteote's definitively untapped potential.
CONFIRMED LSU TARGET
MIKE JONES JR (OLB)
Though he's shorter in stature, Mike Jones Jr possesses enough side to side pace and coverage ability to be an interesting target in the portal.
Not only does he have immediate eligibility, Jones Jr also has championship experience:
While only appearing in a single game his freshman year (2018), he was a part of the team which clobbered Alabama during the 2019 CFP title game.
Over 10 appearances as a sophomore, he collected 18 tackles, 11 solo, 3 TFL and 1 forced fumble as he was back-up to Isaiah Simmons. Clemson fell to LSU in January 2020's title game, Mike Jones Jr. taking on a more limited role, however still making plays when called upon.
Featuring across 9 games this past year as a junior, he grabbed 26 tackles, 13 solo, 2 INTs, 4 TFLs, 2 PDs' & 1 FF.
Pre-Baker Miami didn't offer Mike Jones Jr a scholarship, but LSU's new LBs Coach Blake Baker himself may have been impressed a year later when facing Jones Jr and Clemson in the ACC.
His profile is slightly smaller, stockier than normal...is there enough length at linebacker for the Tigers??
I'd say no...Baker will need taller, lengthier guys from the portal.
Does that mean Mike Jones Jr isn't an option?
The guy comes from an NFL family, a father who played 5 years in the league, he knows what it takes. He's a really instinctive, play-making linebacker / strong safety hybrid kind of guy, he just never took off at Clemson due to Isaiah Simmons being in his way.
Rarely does Dabo Swinney's program see transfers...so I'm not sure what's behind Jones Jr's transfer.
But is he even on Orgeron and co's radar?
He is indeed. Not only was Jones Jr a top 250 player coming out of high school and 4 star player...he could evolve greatly under the strength & conditioning program of Tommy Moffitt.
Can he still be, or will his lack of height and one year of eligibility stop LSU from pursuing him?
Likely the reasoning for his transfer is the rise of Trenton Simpson at Clemson.
Today, I'm actually hearing it...I'm hearing that he will be coming to LSU...very intriguing.
UPDATE WE CAN CONFIRM: Mike is coming to LSU!
“Anthony was an incredible talent coming out of high school, a prospect who could have played running back or linebacker or even play as a big safety. It’s puzzling that he didn’t make an impact at Michigan at all as he was perfect for that Jabrill Peppers role. There is talent still there but with little time left to make an impact and the uncertainty of college football his rating is low for a former 5 star.”-- National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell
Playing alongside Alabama's Dylan Moses at IMG Academy (as a RB / LB), Anthony came out of high school as one of the top rated athletes in the country....and despite only making 7 total appearances (0 starts) in 3 years at Michigan, he still stands as the highest ranked inside LB among the 2021 transfer portal.
Remember...the fruits of a player's labors at Harbaugh's Michigan don't ever tell the tale of how damn good they could be at a place like LSU...
With the intensity from Strength & Conditioning mastermind Tommy Moffitt helping Anthony get his full pace back (after a few years in and out of games), while new LBs Coach Blake Baker takes the reigns confidently, Louisiana State University could be the perfect place for Anthony.
Jordan hasn't reached his full potential yet, however if maximized, Anthony could be a 3rd-1st Round NFL Draft selection....a place such as LSU is the exact training ground Anthony would need to get back to his IMG levels, and luckily there's more than enough IMG connections or alum at LSU to help bridge that gap.
Also, Anthony will have 2 years of eligibility for whomever he joins (holding immediate eligibility, too)....and after the way Jabril Cox raised his stock during his single season as a Tiger, LSU should be an attractive destination for a guy like Jordan Anthony.
CONFIRMED LSU TARGET
A human missile crisis who's leaving Tennessee right as the Unsullied are sacking the city (G.O.T anyone??).
In the aftermath of the Jeremy Pruitt firing / scandal which has ripped the heart out of the Volunteers, Crouch joins teammate Henry To'o To'o as two linebackers transferring out of the fiery ashes of Tennessee's football program.
Heading into his junior season, Quavaris Crouch stands as one of the most impressive LBs in the portal, posting 85 tackles total (44 solo), 1 FF, 3 PDs, 3 TFLs and a half sack across 22 appearances for the Volunteers as both a freshman & sophomore.
Not merely espousing his output, Crouch is increasingly versatile:
First off, Crouch was a RB / LB at the high school level before focusing primarily on the linebacker position (ala former Tigers Devin White & Patrick Queen) and now, he's capable of playing any role across the linebacking corps...
CONFIRMED LSU TARGET
HENRY TO'O TO'O
Featuring in as many contests as Quavaris Crouch at LB, Henry To'o To'o is by far the most statistically impressive transfer LB on our list, posting 140 career tackles (74 solo), 12.5 TFLs, returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown, broke up 4 passes and forced 1 fumble following his sophomore 2020 campaign.
In only 9 games last year, To'o To'o topped out at 68 total tackles, 5 more than any 2020 LSU defender (JaCoby Stevens & Damone Clark both tied at 63 each) which also included his pick-six, 1 sack, 2 PDs as well as 7.5 of his total tackles for loss.
Henry To'o To'o is a backfield warrior, yet he also remains an adept coverage LB as his pick six vs South Carolina proves.
More than anything, he's a tackling machine, posting a trio of 10+ tackle performances (13 vs A&M, 10 vs Vandy & 11 against Georgia)....
Also, To'o To'o is such an all-world athlete, he even caught a 31 yard pass as a WR against Vanderbilt....
Witnessing Henry dissect and destroy draw plays or RPO action is one of the things I love most about To'o To'o's game, never wasting a step as he plunders skill position players, rooting them to the spot. Henry uses this same footballing IQ to jump routes and clog passing lanes over the middle of the field:
Grabbing 72 tackles as a freshman and 68 as a sophomore, with 10 overall games of 8+ tackles in his now finished Volunteer's career, To'o To'o is a young man LSU must do everything and anything possible to grab....
The NCAA is expected to extend the same transfer courtesies for the 2021 offseason as they allowed last year....that decision should not only be expected, it's the right thing to do....and I believe the NCAA's "governing body" will make it right for guys like Crouch and To'o To'o.
If so, this rule change would grant SEC to SEC transfers immediate eligibility....
If I could pursue two transfer linebackers for this LSU unit, it would have to be these two from Tennessee:
Not only do they have 44 combined appearances of SEC experience, they've been playing a lot more recently than some of these other options; aside from that factor, it appears these two were relied upon heavily by Jeremy Pruitt over the past two seasons....
Regardless of the fact they're both 3-4 base linebackers, Crouch & To'o To'o wouldn't have to be big time projects for LSU's staff due to their versatility and ability to adapt....
These guys aren't in need of a full makeover...these two just need a new home.
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by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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