LSU'S SPRING 2021 WRs PREVIEW: WHICH TIGERS START OUT WIDE?
Updated: Mar 7, 2021
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by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Although LSU have nothing to fear regarding the identity of their #1 pass-catcher, sophomore sui generis Kayshon Boutte (already the all-time SEC leader in single game receiving) but the real question is who will take the spot alongside him as the #2 receiver?
Most early bets are on Jaray Jenkins to take the job, however there's a litany of impressive options within Mickey Joseph's WRs room, from experienced upperclassmen to a bevy of freakishly talented freshmen.
Still, picking the right guy and having him take full advantage of the opportunity (while producing an 800+ yard / 10+ TD season) isn't always an exact science....but since LSU enjoy such bountiful depth at the WR position, they'll be able to mix and match a number of different players at that spot.
Regardless, the position has to be a concern until it's filled by another alpha just like Boutte:
That means I want to watch junior Jaray Jenkins take over if he's supposed to be that guy...I want to see him dominate, I want to see Jaray carry himself like a true aerial ambassador.
Ripping in 2 TDs for 397 yards, scoring the opening touchdown against #6 Florida while also stepping up as the guy when LSU needed him most vs Mississippi State, Jenkins elevated his game throughout 2020, three games of 65+ yards, averaging 17.3 yards per grab
Possessing the body, mind, soul and playing every down in tribute of his mother Dee Dee (who passed away in 2019 after a 7 year battle with cancer) I have a feeling he just may explode in 2021...he's playing for more than football...
So...if Kayshon is the #1 guy, undisputed...and if Jaray Jenkins grabs that #2 role, who will take those #3 & #4 spots??
One of the first four WR jobs would have to go to Trey Palmer, right?
I want to see Trey Palmer evolve and pick up right where he left off at Kentwood High:
.I want Trey Palmer to take the frenzied flight, unstoppable moves and blistering pace he showcases in the return game and put the whole package together out wide. It's great that Trey has 2 return touchdowns in 2 years, yet we recruited Trey to develop into a great receiver, not merely a return man.
Trey was the 18th nationally ranked WR of the 2019 class when LSU snapped him up as yet another local receiving gem. More than receiving (1,008 yards, 9 TDs as a senior), Palmer did it all from rushing the ball (3 TDs, 275 yards), returning for 257 yards resulting in 3 TDs & actually, Trey Palmer even kicked 4 successful PATs and picked off a pass on defense at Kentwood!
He's a jack-of-all-trades footballer...no question....but if LSU are unable to develop and utilize Trey to the best of his abilities, it would be a major disappointment. LSU will continue to use him as a returner, however....I want to see Palmer explode at receiver before the curtains fall on his Tigers career. Remember, he's entering his junior year & only has 11 catches for 114 yards. To put his meager production in perspective, 2020 freshman Kayshon Boutte put up 91 yards by halftime vs Ole Miss and Jaray Jenkins put up 85 only a game into the season...
In fact, Palmer didn't catch more than 3 passes for 34 yards in any game, both season highs for receptions & yards equally...but he can take that next step...
Just like Jaray Jenkins, 2021 is the biggest season in Palmer's career thus far...and unlike Trey, Jenkins took that sophomore step last year...but since Trey is already on the doorstep of his junior season, the pressure to produce is at its highest.
Sophomore Alex Adams is an underrated wide out, though his route-running and catching must improve. I've seen Adams drop a few too many passes during practices / scrimmages, he doesn't seem to possess the same off the line explosion as the other receivers, though he could be improving on these weaknesses as I write this. If Adams improves, coupled with a few injuries, Adams could get time out wide and has the tools to deliver.
2021 may be the year he breaks out of the shadows and into the light...at least Billy Bando would love that if it happened.
Meanwhile, the receiver I feel has a clear pathway to the #2 spot?
Sophomore Koy Moore, a young man who endured a terrifying instance of racial profiling by police officers as a freshman. Being held at gunpoint as a teenager didn't dissuade Moore from posting his feelings about what went down...he refused to back down in that awful moment...so do you think he's prepared to pack it in & back down in a WR duel?
Moore will push for the top 2 spots if he naturally evolves & improves upon his above average 2020. He didn't explode last year, yet Koy made plays when the Tigers needed them, showing propulsion after the first move that's hard to teach...you can show a receiver how to beat a man off the line straight up, but showing them how to continue the move against pressure, keeping the route whole as you fight through a jam, that's just something Koy learned from watching Ja'Marr Chase mutilate opponents as a Rummel High Raider.
Koy could use some bulking around the mid-section, which I believe he'll get from Tommy Moffitt this Spring, though I have a great feeling about Koy Moore's prospects when it comes to sealing a starting spot among the first four LSU receivers on Week 1.
Could Jontre Kirklin earn a consistent starting spot within the first four?
He elevated his production & snaps significantly last year (concerning how long Choo Choo waited for his first starting opportunity), caught more touchdowns than Jaray Jenkins & Trey Palmer combined, however....Kirklin dropped a ton of passes last year...and in key moments. He was given enough opportunities to not only reward him for his great performances, including his 2 TDs vs Vanderbilt or his heady fumble recovery TD vs Alabama (after the Boutte fumble), yet too many times Jontre dropped easy catches.
All in all, when it comes to the upperclass receivers at LSU, what catches the eye?
Right now, you may feel like Jaray Jenkins, Koy Moore, Trey Palmer and Jontre Kirklin have the race won for these spots, yet these upperclassmen are in danger when it comes to the loaded freshman class coming in behind:
Don't you dare be surprised if any combination from Jack Bech, Chris Hilton Jr, Brian Thomas Jr, Malik Nabers or Deion Smith assume the #2-#4 wide receiver roles...they are that good and the competition is just that open.
LSU's 2021 pass-catching unit is without a doubt the deepest WRs room of all time at LSU and it's up to Mickey Joseph to make sure they become the greatest, capable of taking on 2019's 51 TDs: in fact, he could situationally rotate, utilizing the differing profiles and skill sets for each corresponding situation (for example, down at the goal-line, you want all your jump ball guys like Jaray Jenkins, Chris Hilton Jr, Jack Bech or Brian Thomas Jr);
The possibilities are endless with this year's group...and we're far from finished talking about the 2021 WRs here at LSUODYSSEY.COM.
PRE-SPRING PROJECTED STARTERS:
#1 KAYSHON BOUTTE
#2 JARAY JENKINS
#3 TREY PALMER
#4 KOY MOORE
#5 JACK BECH
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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