By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Following LSU's regular season finale victory over A&M on Senior Day, finishing 9-3 over 12 games, yet another season is in the books, the final fall of the SEC West before conference realignment begins next August.
With just one more game remaining in the distant future ahead, we now have a full picture of who stood out as the 10 best Tigers of 2023....without further explanation, we're going to dive right in, just as we've done every season in which we've covered the team:
And now.....our 9th Tiger of 2023:
9. EMERY JONES JR
Proving his extreme value to the program by starting at right tackle or sliding over to right guard within the same game, Emery Jones Jr was a safety net for Heisman favorite Jayden Daniels over the course of his 634 snaps;
Despite the rougher stats on Pro Football Focus (3 sacks & 19 pressures allowed), Emery Jones Jr still passed the eyeball test over his 11 sophomore appearances.
Plus, PFF seems to agree with us, too, considering Emery raised his freshman pass blocking, run blocking, and overall offensive grades by double digit figures in each category, allowing 2 fewer sacks than in 2022, committing 3 fewer penalties (dropping from 6 as a debutant down to 3 this fall), all while displaying the insatiable athleticism, trench warfare dominion & rare versatility which made him such a high profile recruiting target at Catholic High.
For his solid, consistent efforts, including taking on the entire Florida Gators' sideline when protecting his quarterback, Jones Jr made the All-SEC second team, joining 4 other offensive teammates named to the All-SEC 1st or 2nd teams.
As a critical, moldable piece of Brad Davis' excellent offensive line, fronting the 2nd greatest offense in program history & without question college football's finest attack this past fall, scoring 40+ points on 9 occasions as Jayden Daniels, Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr broke multiple program, SEC or NCAA records, Jones Jr was a fixture of elite O-line play, even when struggling.
Despite strong performances all season long by Garrett Dellinger or Miles Frazier, Emery belongs among LSU's top 10 due to the flexibility his versatility offered our O-line, as well as his constant, menacing presence up front opening rushing lanes for Logan Diggs, Jayden Daniels or offering ample protection in the passing game.
Emery wasn't perfect, he had rough moments where he succumbed to outside edge pressure or allowed a few hits to his quarterback;
However, due to this adversity, because he had to fight off intense pass rushers who targeted or tested him far more than they attempted to rush LT Will Campbell, I feel the Baton Rouge native took an exciting step up in his development heading toward Year 3.
OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW W/ EMERY JONES JR (AUGUST 2023)
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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