Five stories that have defined LSU’s 2023 fall camp

LSU’s fall camp is coming to a close.

By this time next week, LSU’s preparation for Florida State will be in full swing and football season will be officially underway.

The Tigers’ fall practice thus far has featured heightened pressure and expectations that weren’t there last year. LSU enters the year at No. 5 in the AP Poll, but talking season is just about over.

You never really know anything until the team steps out onto the field. This is college football after all. But there have been some stories and rumblings out of camp that shed light on some things we can expect to see out of LSU this fall.

Here are five things that have defined LSU’s fall camp.

Malik Nabers cements himself as a star

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Hype has built around Malik Nabers all offseason.

He led the SEC in catches last year and finished the year strong with 291 yards in his final two games.

According to Brian Kelly, Nabers took the next step in the summer.

LSU’s produced several star NFL receivers this century and Nabers could be next in line.

He can line up anywhere in Denbrock’s offense. He can go get a jump ball or take a screen 75-yards to the house. He’s the complete package and if he’s as good as reports indicate, LSU’s offense will take another step and the passing offense will open up.

Newcomers generate buzz

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, fall camp was when we started to hear about how good Will Campbell was and how impressed Kelly was with Mason Taylor.

Those two went on to break out as true freshmen.

This year, a few more newcomers are generating buzz.

Offensive lineman Lance Heard, a five-star recruit, is in the competition to start at right tackle. Kelly and LSU defensive linemen have spoken highly of Heard.

At tight end, LSU needs someone to emerge alongside Taylor, and it’s looking like Ka’Morreun Pimpton could be that guy. He was a blue-chip tight end as a recruit and his size translates to the SEC right away.

Wide receiver Aaron Anderson is making a strong first impression too. He was working back from an injury, but now that he’s out there, Kelly said he can help the team in several ways, including the return game.

A couple of corners have impressed too, but we’ll get there in a second.

Maason Smith saga

(AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
(AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

Maason Smith was involved in a few headlines during camp.

He’s working back from last year’s ACL tear and this was his first real time returning to the practice field.

There were a few bumps, including an ankle flare-up. But the staff was careful with Smith’s return. From a health standpoint, he should be ready to go.

All reports out of camp indicate that Smith is the player he was before he got hurt.

But bad news broke earlier this week and Smith won’t be available in game one after the NCAA suspended him for “impermissible benefits” that occured prior to the legalization of NIL.

It’s a hit for an LSU defense that has one of the best interior defensive line pairings in the country with Smith and Mekhi Wingo.

More will be put on Wingo’s plate now, just like there was last year.

We have an idea of what the secondary will look like

Syndication: LafayetteLA
Syndication: LafayetteLA

There’s good news and bad news here.

The good news is cornerback Zy Alexander acclimated well despite transferring up from the FCS level. It looks like he’s a guy LSU will rely on at outside corner.

Sage Ryan could be settling into a role there too. The five-star talent has bounced around the secondary while in Baton Rouge, but Brian Kelly said they think he has the skills to play on the outside.

Ryan’s flashed his talent over the last two years, but needs to find some consistency. If he does, it’ll go a long way to helping out the secondary. In the spring, DC Matt House said he liked what he saw from Ryan and he’s getting more comfortable within the scheme.

The bad news? A couple Power Five transfers won’t be ready to help LSU just yet. Ohio State transfer JK Johnson suffered a leg injury and will miss time.

Texas A&M transfer Denver Harris, who could be the most talented player in the room, had to take some time away from the team and worked with the three’s upon his return.

There were high hopes for Harris to make an immediate impact after he did just that with A&M last year, but it doesn’t look like he’s fighting for a starting job.

It’s clear that Alexander, along with Syracuse transfer Duce Chestnut, will start at outside corner.

An interesting development has been the emergence of Ashton Stamps. The three-star recruit impressed right away, earning praise across the board from House and Kelly. LSU needs some of its younger guys to step up here.

LSU continues to attract national attention

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Syndication: The Daily Advertiser

This isn’t necessarily an on-field story line, but the LSU hype train continues to grow with kickoff fast approaching.

When ESPN’s first early top 25 was released in January, LSU ranked eighth. The Tigers were probably a consensus top 10 or 12 team at that point.

LSU’s gone up a few notches now. Brian Kelly’s group sits at No. 5 in the AP Poll with the fifth best national title odds too.

A lot of the heightened expectations have to do with LSU’s QB situation. Jayden Daniels is second in Heisman odds and his national profile continues to grow, recently inking NIL deals with Powerade, Beats, and Raising Cane’s.

It’s all going to lead to some interesting narratives this fall. With a Vegas win total of 9.5, LSU could go 9-3 and it wouldn’t mean it’s a bad year. But I don’t think that’s how people across the sport would see it.

Kelly came to LSU because he wanted the talent to make the playoff. He supposedly has it now and that’s what will be expected.

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire