3 LSU players crack ESPN’s true freshman All-America team

The Tigers relied heavily on veterans in 2022 — both those who returned to the team when Brian Kelly was hired and the experienced transfers Kelly added to the roster.

But LSU also gave quite a bit of responsibility to a handful of young players on the team, including several true freshmen. Three of those true freshmen were recognized by ESPN as true freshmen All-Americans: offensive tackles Will Campbell and Emery Jones, as well as linebacker Harold Perkins.

Campbell and Jones were consensus choices for Tom VanHaaren and Tom Luginbill, who put the list together, but only VanHaaren selected Perkins. Here’s what they said about all three players.

OT Emery Jones

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

LSU | 2022 ESPN 300 ranking: 159

Jones was the No. 3 guard in the 2022 cycle and one of the top signees in LSU’s class. He was a 6-foot-4, 330-pound lineman out of high school and came in ready to play right away, starting 11 of the 13 games he appeared in at right tackle during coach Brian Kelly’s first season. — VanHaaren

Jones became a starter early in the season, and his addition to the lineup proved to be transformative for LSU’s offensive line, which improved markedly over the course of the season. Between Jones and Campbell, the future is bright for the line.

OT Will Campbell

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

LSU | 2022 ESPN 300 ranking: 14

Campbell was a five-star prospect and the No. 2 offensive tackle in the class. He was the second-highest ranked signee for the Tigers and one of two ESPN 300 offensive linemen with Jones. Campbell played opposite Jones at tackle and started 12 games this season. With Campbell and Jones, LSU is likely set at tackle for the near future. — VanHaaren

Campbell won the starting job during spring practice as an early enrollee, and he never looked back this season. He was a blue-chip recruit, and he proved why as a true freshman. He protected Jayden Daniels’ blindside admirably in Year 1.

LB Harold Perkins

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

LSU | 2022 ESPN 300 ranking: 4

LSU beat out Texas A&M and Alabama, among others, to land the five-star Perkins. While he didn’t start to begin the season, his play earned him more and more playing time as the season progressed, including a four-sack performance against Arkansas in which he also forced and recovered two fumbles. He finished the season third in total tackles (72) and also had 13 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, one interception and 14 quarterback hurries in a phenomenal freshman season.

Perkins was the biggest win for Kelly in his first recruiting class, and he proved why he was so highly touted coming out of high school. He’s still raw, but the pure talent is undeniable. He’s disruptive in a way very few players are, and when he hones his skills and vision a bit more, he will be among the nation’s top defensive players.

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire