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There's a feeling in the air....
Baton Rouge in Spring, LSU football back on the Ponderosa, or, as is the case this off-season, holding most practices inside the Charles McClendon facility across the street.....all concealed with a slight vibe of indoor practice secrecy & knowing confidence that is starting to surround Corey Raymond's DB room.

After last season's atrocious secondary play, set up to fail by defensive coordinator Matt House's inept "super soft" coverage, DBU became a term Tiger fans felt uncomfortable using...

But due to the return of Corey Raymond, the man who helped build the DBU brand, Brian Kelly's Tigers are beginning to find their feet after a few seasons of worrying & downright awful returns at the backend.

With an eye for development and a taste for revenge, all but three of last year's defensive backs return for 2024....and though this group's mentality may have been shaken last fall, the bad ass, in your face, no prisoners taken doctrine of Corey Raymond is already taking root:

"They haven't just turned the page (on 2023), they've burned the goddamn book," a secondary assistant told LSUOdyssey, excited by the obvious potential beginning to take shape.

Thanks to a couple of position swaps and some much needed hands-on teaching, three DBs in particular are showcasing exactly how Raymond is already making a positive impact:

Faith is being placed heavily upon the shoulders of former A&M safety Jardin Gilbert, a gritty, hard hitting Louisiana-born DB cut from the same cloth that made DBU synonymous with LSU.

Gilbert is a ready-made SEC starter, proving to be a leader by example; still young enough to relate to everyone in the room, he equally possesses hefty veteran pedigree.

Finally back in his natural position of free safety, Sage Ryan is excelling, picking off 3 passes from starting QB Garrett Nussmeier during a recent practice, setting up what should be a successful campaign for #15.

A former 5 star safety & return game prospect out of Lafayette Christian Academy, Ryan debuted at nickel in 2021 and 2022, before starting at corner last fall.

Now, following his reunion with Coach Raymond, the man who recruited him 5 years ago, Sage has finally been deployed in the right position (free safety) and he's put on a display of growth, maturity, and enhanced playmaking so far this Spring.

The third DB of this triumvirate is the curious case of Major Burns.

Entering year 5 (year 4 as a Tiger), Burns endured a poor 2023; Even as his tackling totals placed 5th in the SEC (91 stops overall) or he returned an INT for a touchdown vs Mizzou, the rough tackling, hard-nosed Burns was caught out for 6 touchdown passes.

This Spring, the former Georgia transfer and Louisiana native is stationed closer to the line of Blake Baker's "Star" position (aka a hybrid safety / linebacker / nickel role); If early signs are correct from Spring camp, this move should benefit Burns' game, as well as the secondary structure overall.

From that settled power trio at safety, Raymond is now able to move along & focus on exactly who he has at corner or nickel, sifting through versatile young DBs like Ryan Yaites (2nd string Star), Jordan Allen, Javien Toviano, Jeremiah Hughes, PJ Woodland, Ryan Robinson Jr, Ashton Stamps, Joel Rogers, or Raymond's Ohio State transfer duo JK Johnson & Jyaire Brown to find the best tandem at corner, as well as his strongest nickel candidate.

Elsewhere, inexperienced young Tigers Kylin Jackson, Dashawn McBryde and Ju'juan Johnson add an extra layer of high octane potential to the group at safety and corner respectively (the latter arrives in late May).

Quickly under new DBU management, red shirt freshman Kylin Jackson displays all the attributes of a big game player.

So far through Spring, LSU's defensive backs are beginning to play with the aggression & in your face jamming at the line of scrimmage that was unforgivably missing from last season.

While there is always going to be coverage hiccups during Spring camp, as this unit settles under DBs Coach Corey Raymond, Safeties Coach Jake Olsen & continue to break 2023's disastrous habits, we're looking at a hungry, intentional, aggressive young bunch that are starting to develop before our eyes:

We're seeing increased route disruption, more hands on passes, more man coverage, heads and hips on a swivel, and best of all, we're witnessing nonstop battling intensity from Coach Raymond's (mostly young) group of Tiger DBs.

Competing vs a wide range of athletic profiles within Co-Offensive Coordinator / WRs Coach Cortez Hankton's receivers room, the only choice is to succeed or leave....with the potential for some LSU DBs to hit the portal after Spring.

Of course, there will be many more strides for this group to complete, obstacles they'll need to overcome, and tough decisions Coach Raymond must take over the next 9 months before and during the campaign ahead, but in just a few months of taking back his job, we're witnessing the Corey Raymond Effect unfold right before our eyes.


©️ 2024 Uninterrupted Writings Inc

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I am impressed with the depth that Coach Kelly was able to build with all the defensive coaching issues he faced. I believe the new staff has all the puzzle pieces, we simply need to deploy them in the right places with a return of mental and physical toughness.

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