By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
It was almost a year ago to the day when former 5 star safety Sage Ryan pledged his Halloween commitment to the LSU Tigers, disappointing entire recruiting service staffs who's credibility hinged on their "he's going to Alabama" proclamations....
Sage defied all their expectations on Halloween, but this very site had the scoop first, and our belief in his LSU commitment never wavered....
Those in the recruiting business forgot the reality of Louisiana: It's a big deal to accuse a die hard LSU Legacy and Faulk family member of committing to Alabama....Nick Saban or not.
Out of Lafayette Christian Academy, Sage Ryan entered the 2021 off-season as one of the most highly anticipated players on LSU's roster, even as a freshman. Tapped for greatness, some even labeling him a potential future Heisman or Thorpe candidate, Sage's arrival in June was met with plenty of expectation.
Though he was injured in the back half of his senior year, missing out on Lafayette Christian Academy's fourth state title in a row, Sage came into those first summer practices with gusto, impressing Daronte Jones, Coach Ed Orgeron and veteran safety Jay Ward.
After a few strong practices, Sage's hamstring issues returned, sidelining him indefinitely. There were whispers and wonderings of when he could return, but when Week 1 at the Rose Bowl came around, Sage wasn't dressed out.
His injury absences continued until he was able to dress for Central Michigan, although he was still held out. Appearing on the field during pre-game warmups vs Auburn, Sage again was in pads and yet wasn't called upon as the Tigers' offense ground to a halt and Bo Nix couldn't be tackled.
Finally, after a week in which Eli Ricks, Derek Stingley Jr, Ali Gaye, and #1 WR Kayshon Boutte all were announced to have season ending injuries, Sage Ryan was declared to be ready vs Florida.
Moving to nickel, a position he's comfortable at, the pacey, some would call "undersized" #15 accepted the mantle of a prime DBU defender, and with Derek Stingley Jr and Eli Ricks both out on the outside, plus safety Major Burns being unavailable as well, LSU needed the freshman a lot sooner than they could've expected.
Starting vs Florida and @ Ole Miss, the past two games has provided Ryan with invaluable reps....plays we'll look back on as the first sparks from "Sir MasterFlash" himself:
On his first ever target vs eternal rivals the Florida Gators, Sage batted the ball out of the receiver's grasp, climbing high up the ladder to swat the ball....enthralling the entirety of Tigers Stadium.
I loved watching Sage's hungry celebrations....you could tell he'd been waiting for that moment all his life....
Though he would end up allowing 2 short catches from 5 targets, his magnetic coverage also forced another incompletion when Sage's blanket technique created an errant throw.
LSU's newest nickel had a few freshman troubles:
For instance, on the 2nd catch allowed, Ryan followed the motion inside just enough to be out of position on the edge when Dan Mullen called the option routes, but he was quick to recover and make the tackle, producing 2 assisted tackles on the day.
Ryan may be undersized, however he's far from shy: he looked to be one of LSU's most willingly physical players on the day.
This footage shows the 2nd catch he allowed, all due to the confusion caused by the rub and delayed pass:
When facing Ole Miss, starting once again at nickel, Sage was targeted on the second play of the game, Matt Corral uncorking a quick post route right at the freshman, completing a 13 yard catch against him, though the young Faulk descendent was right there to make the stop.
Showing his unmistakable abilities and mentality, Ryan responded and came alive on a 3rd down replay of the same route:
Sensing a repeat play call, LSU's former 5 star was ready for Kiffin's trickery and pounced on the ball at the perfect moment, smashing the hands of Ole Miss' WR and producing his second pass break up of the year....forcing Ole Miss to actually punt the football....a rare occurrence on the day.
As Cordale Flott went down with an injury, LSU were down to their bare bones at the secondary spots, and luckily for the Tigers, Sage Ryan was there to help......had he not been available, the score could've been in the high 40s.
Though he was flagged on a deep ball down the sideline, his left hand draping the shoulder of a receiver before the ball came down, Sage's coverage was in lockstep;
Even the mistakes point out the obvious: the LCA 4x State Champion is a tough DB to shake off....thanks to his track excellence, he will only become increasingly difficult to pass against.
LSU Odyssey will be following every rep coming Sage's way....don't go anywhere else:
This is the place for the best Sage coverage....not only will one of the quietest Tigers on our roster speak to us on the record, we've been on the Sage story since the beginning.......and we're not going anywhere.
3 CATCHES ALLOWED
2 FORCED INC (Thru Coverage)
1 BACKFIELD ENTRANCE
5 TACKLES (3 SOLO)
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
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