Something we tend to take as a given is, based on recruiting prowess year after year, the talent level at LSU. If there’s a slide in Baton Rouge, that means we point fingers at the coaches for not getting the best out of their rosters.
Friday, when LSU players report to campus for the start of preseason camp, 14 of them will be transfers. That’s the most for an LSU team since 2013 and fifth-most in the SEC.
Of those, 11 will be newcomers or players who were on the roster but did not play in 2017. Only Mississippi State, with 15 such players, and Tennessee, with 12, have more among SEC schools.
Several of those LSU transfers are walk-ons who will likely never play a meaningful snap in a game. But a large number of them are poised to fill major roles for the Tigers’ hopes in what bodes to be a challenging and critical season as LSU tries to reassert itself as a championship player.
As a rule, the best SEC teams have the fewest transfers. Defending national champion Alabama has just six, four who didn’t participate in 2017. Reigning SEC champion Georgia has just seven transfers, including three new faces for 2018. Auburn, which won the SEC West, has eight and four.
That’s certainly not a definitive data point, but it’s not nothing, either. And depending on what happens with Demetris Robertson, Georgia’s numbers may change.
The thing is, what separates Alabama and Georgia on transfers is as much how good both programs have been integrating transfers into successful roles on the field as it is on the overall comparative numbers. That’ll be the real test for Orgeron and his staff, especially when you consider that one of the key players is Burrow, who they’re largely pinning their hopes on to succeed as the starter at quarterback.