Updated: May 15
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Named as an All-SEC Freshman after providing 19 tackles, 11 pressures, 5 TFLs, and 4 sacks over his first 7 collegiate games, Maason Smith's debut performances gave us all a glimpse of his singular talent & boundless ceiling:
While his first year at LSU became curtailed by injury, the Terrebonne native still received top SEC honors, scaring opponents & exciting fans alike with his incredible athleticism, the ease of his versatility when tasked with switching from DT to DE (after All Gaye and Andre Anthony's season-ending injuries), how he racked up 3 sacks in his second collegiate appearance before adding another at the start of a historic rivalry win vs Florida.....
There are many reasons to love what Maason accomplished on the field throughout 2021......and as he prepares for his sophomore campaign, Smith is poised for an electric second helping.
Now deployed by DL Coach Jamar Cain as an interior DT within a "finesse / rugged" middle two or three combo, Smith's versatility on the line of scrimmage will pay massive dividends for LSU's highly promising, often interchangeable D-Line unit.
Utilizing Super Bowl-winner Matt House's 3-4 jack LB set up, the Tiger DTs will be increasingly significant this fall; As we witnessed during his Spring Game performance, Maason is ready for those All-American level expectations.
He had a 66.1 pass rusher rating & 65.8 coverage ranking according to Pro Football Focus College, all as a freshman backup participating in just little over half of the year. Sadly, Smith missed celebrated team showings vs Alabama, Arkansas, A&M and ULM after an injury vs Ole Miss.
Still fighting off pain while recovering, the former 5 star returned to the field when his teammates needed him most vs Kansas St, battling in limited fashion with LSU going through a historic personnel & coaching staff transition.
But on day 1 of Spring football, Maason was back to his best, lining up alongside Jaquelin Roy as one of LSU's first string defensive tackles.
During this past Spring Game, Smith stalked the front throughout his reps, batting passes, grabbing a couple touch sacks, pressuring our quarterbacks into poor throws, and desecrating protection schemes left, right or center, all while maintaining an overall presence which said "All-American" loud and clear.
Hulking, towering, vicious, brutal, dominant....Maason Smith runs the gamut of suitable football hyperbole; Both extremely huge and violently fast, LSU's second-year phenom is a sure-fire 1st Round selection in 2024.
Ever since he first stepped on the field vs UCLA in week 1 last year, everyone could tell he belonged.
Heading into 2022, with Smith's outrageous Spring Game performance still floating around our misanthropic psyche, I can only imagine how crucial he'll be for LSU's defensive line this fall. Opening up against Florida State within the state of Louisiana (at the Superdome), Brian Kelly's Tigers will need to hit the ground running in order to compete for the SEC.......and having your best players at their optimum is paramount.
I firmly believe Maason Smith is among the Tigers' 5-10 best overall players on roster, but under the leadership & direction of DL Coach Jamar Cain, mixed with Matt House's Super Bowl-winning development as Defensive Coordinator, maybe Maason rates inside LSU's top 5 regarding possible influence......and he's about to finally be fully unleashed:
SEC quarterbacks, college football backfields, this is a stern warning....watch out for the big circle comin' for ya.....
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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