by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
With a new Head Coach in Brian Kelly and his entirely revamped staff, wildly different approach or philosophy compared to prior head man Ed Orgeron, while nearly 25% of their teammates and 2021 coaches exited amid Kelly's transition, it's a major sense of pride to see so many Tigers excel in 2022....in fact, we were forced to leave off 3 Tigers who could've easily fit on this list.
We will list those three when the top 10 countdown concludes....but for now, get into this, get yourself relaxed, drink something warm, eat something good, jive on our vibe and dive into the ultimate 2022 breakdown:
4. BJ OJULARI
1 FF (led to Def. TD)
Climbing higher and higher each year on our end of season Top 10 Tigers entries, this past fall BJ Ojulari embarked upon his greatest season in purple and gold.
Honored with LSU's sacred #18 jersey over the summer, BJ responded by blazing a singular, violent trail through the SEC, marking his territory deep in the backfield during 10 of his 11 appearances.
Ojulari always showed up big on the grandest stages of all, forcing the most incredibly timed / game-changing fumble vs Auburn, setting up Jay Ward's scoop & score (the first cracks forming in Auburn's 17-0 lead, bursting the dam as LSU went on a 21-0 turnaround thereafter);
Taking on Alabama in the game of the year, BJ played an incredible 86 snaps while racking up a career high 11 tackles, 8 pressures, 1.5 tackles for loss and 1 sack (leading the Tigers on the night in both tackles & pressures) as LSU's defensive front owned Bryce Young and Co.
Against Florida, Mississippi State and Florida State, Ojulari totaled 7 pressures throughout each outing, devastating the backfield, disrupting plays, lighting up quarterbacks for 8 hits during that 3 game chunk.
Though his 2022 sack numbers may appear low at 5.5, Ojulari assisted or set up 9 total sacks in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus.
Registering an 81.5 pass rush grade on the year, totaling the most pressures of any Tiger and the second most within the SEC, while recording strong run stopping & tackling grades in the 70s, LSU's junior made his money year count to the fullest....becoming the complete front seven defender.
Overall, Ojulari isn't just an outstanding 2023 NFL Draft prospect, BJ will be remembered as a spectacular LSU Tiger.
In total, from 2020, 2021 and 2022, #18 played 1,758 snaps, appeared in 34 games (24 starts), cobbled together 128 tackles, 127 pressures, 76 QB Hurries, played a key part in 21 sacks (credited with 16.5 for his LSU career, including 3 in one game as a freshman), adding 25.5 tackles for loss, forcing 2 fumbles, recovering another pair, swatting two passes, and forever stands alongside LSU Legends like Jacob Hester, Tre'davious White, Christian LaCouture, and Benny Logan as a recipient of the #18 jersey.
At the end of the day, some may argue Ojulari never hit his highest level at LSU, unable to eclipse 7 sacks in any season during his three year career. But those who subscribe to that belief are missing the bigger picture:
Showcasing his remarkable versatility, BJ often sacrificed sacks in both Daronte Jones and Matt House's defensive schemes due to his speed in coverage & elite tackling prowess in space....often deployed as a hybrid linebacker to devastating, confounding effect.
It's unfair to point to his sack total and shake your head, especially when we witnessed his pass rushing masterclass over three years, destroying quarterbacks across the SEC amid key situations, as his 127 career pressure total will attest.
More than what he accomplished on the field, BJ represented the LSU brand with the utmost loyalty, honor, and respect.
The Georgia-born edge rusher arrived at LSU as a 5 star phenom tapped for greatness on the field and left a true team leader & respected Tiger away from the gridiron, deservedly wearing the Tigers' iconic #18 jersey in a money season where he ushered LSU back to winning ways while setting himself up for a long & successful NFL career.
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
©️ 2023 Uninterrupted Writings Inc