For the second year in a row, LSU was forced to rebuild its secondary through the portal.
Garner, Bernard-Converse and Foucha are off to the NFL, and a couple of LSU’s younger corners have hit the portal themselves. The attrition left LSU with few options to start at corner in 2023, none of them proven.
Those concerns have been squashed as LSU is set to bring in a slew of transfer corners. At least a couple from this crew should be in Baton Rouge for more than a year.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see these guys earn starting roles, or at least, make big contributions.
Here’s a look at LSU’s corner additions in the portal.
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Harris is the most talented from the group. He was a five-star and a key piece of Texas A&M’s top recruiting class in 2022.
Harris made a strong impression before a suspension cut his season short. That issue led some to wonder if Harris would be a take for LSU. In the past, Brian Kelly stated the staff wants to to their due diligence with portal guys, especially when it comes to off-the-field issues.
Harris was a top priority for LSU in high-school, but the coaching change pushed it out of the race.
On the field in 2022, Harris earned PFF’s seventh-best coverage grade among true freshmen corners. He allowed just four catches in 98 snaps, only giving up 28 yards. That put him first among SEC corners in yards per catch allowed.
He’s 6-foot-1, fitting in with the longer corners LSU put outside in 2021.
It was a limited sample, but Harris was one of the SEC’s best in man coverage. LSU needs that skill with the loss of Bernard-Converse. His size makes him a good tackler, allowing him to offer support against the run or fight through blocks on screen passes.
Expect to see Harris on the field a lot in 2022, and don’t be surprised if he emerges as one of LSU’s best defenders.
For two years, [autotag]Zy Alexander[/autotag] has been one of the top corners at the FCS level. 247Sports rates him as a four-star transfer and one of the best available corners.
Like Harris, he’s tall, standing at 6-foot-3. He’s a true athlete and played quarterback on his high school team.
There’s always some skepticism when a player makes the jump from FCS to the SEC, but Alexander had several Power Five offers and his size and athleticism should help him fit right in.
He’ll have the chance to compete for a starting role in the fall.
(AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Syracuse transfer [autotag]Duce Chestnut[/autotag] broke onto the scene in 2021 as one of the top true freshmen in the ACC.
He’s a two-year starter who’s played over 1,400 snaps at the FBS level. He brings much-needed experience to LSU’s secondary. He was a Freshman All-American in 2021 and earned an All-ACC honorable mention in 2022.
It’s not just experience. He was a four-star recruit and has the talent to play in the SEC. Now entering his junior year, there could still be some growth too. He’s another guy who will play on the outside and given that experience, he’ll compete for a starting job and see significant playing time.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Ohio State transfer [autotag]JK Johnson[/autotag] was a top 100 recruit in 2021. From St. Louis, he played for LSU cornerbacks coach [autotag]Robert Steeples[/autotag] in high school.
He played over 400 snaps with the Buckeyes in 2022, but there were some struggles. He had the highest passer rating when targeted and gave up some big plays, also allowing the highest yards per catch total.
There’s promise, though. He led the conference in snaps per target and only allowed 12 catches all year — and just three in man coverage.
Like a lot of the players in this group, he’s on the younger side. He doesn’t have to figure it all out this year, but his talent and relationship with Steeples give him the chance to make a real contribution.