LSU cracks the top 15 of ESPN’s way-too-early 2024 rankings

The 2023 season just concluded on Monday night as Michigan defeated Washington in the College Football Playoff national championship game, but ESPN is already turning its attention to the 2024 season as it released its way-too-early top 25.

It’s shaping up to be a year of change for LSU. Jayden Daniels is moving on, as are his top two wideouts in Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. The Garrett Nussmeier era is set to begin as LSU will hope to maintain its offensive prowess while reworking the defense that struggled this year.

Missouri’s Blake Baker has been brought in to fix that unit, and the Tigers will hope the result is a more balanced roster. In the meantime, they come in at No. 14 in ESPN’s rankings.

2023 record: 10-3, 6-2 SEC

Expected key losses: QB Jayden Daniels, WR Malik Nabers, WR Brian Thomas Jr., C Charles Turner III, S Andre’ Sam, LB Omar Speights, DT Jordan Jefferson

Expected key additions: QB A.J. Swann, WR Zavion Thomas, S Jardin Gilbert, OT Dominick McKinley, TE Trey’Dez Green, ATH Jelani Watkins

2024 outlook: The Tigers won 10 games in each of Brian Kelly’s first two seasons in Baton Rouge. They didn’t take advantage of having Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jayden Daniels this past season, as the defense allowed at least 42 points in three losses. Now, Daniels is off to the NFL draft. He accounted for 95% of LSU’s passing yards and 44.3% of its rushing yards before its bowl game. Daniels was responsible for 50 total touchdowns. The good news for Kelly is that heir apparent Garrett Nussmeier, who waited three years for the starting job, seems more than ready to take over. He was MVP of the ReliaQuest Bowl after passing for 395 yards with three scores in a 35-31 victory over Wisconsin. He won’t have Nabers and Thomas, who are potential first-round picks. Shoring up LSU’s defense will be a focus in the spring. Kelly cleaned house by moving on from coordinator/linebackers coach Matt House, safeties coach Kerry Cooks, cornerbacks coach Robert Steeples and defensive line coach Jimmy Lindsey. Hiring Baker from SEC opponent Missouri was a boss move.

Brian Kelly has quickly raised the floor at LSU, but the 2024 season could be a decisive one for his tenure as the Tigers look to take the next step.

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire