LSU spring football: What we’ve learned at halfway point about Javien Toviano, WRs, more

LSU spring football: What we've learned at halfway point about Javien Toviano, WRs, more
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LSU hit the halfway point of spring practice this week. The Tigers take a few days off now, then have six more practices. It’s a good time then to look back on what else we have learned. Let’s review.

Toviano stands out

Defensive back Javien Toviano has generated the most buzz out of the 12 early enrollees. He looks physically ready at 6-foot-1 and 199 pounds, and his versatility gives him a chance to get on the field early.

Toviano, a top 100 recruit, began the spring at cornerback. He has since moved around from nickel to safety.

“He’s a guy that has that flexibility,” coach Brian Kelly said. “We’ll play him a little bit at corner going into the last week, but right now, he’s the guy we’ve singled out as playing a little bit of nickel and safety.”

If nothing else, being able to rely on Toviano this soon would improve LSU’s depth. It doesn’t have a proven safety behind starters Major Burns and Greg Brooks, and though the Tigers may look for another in the transfer portal, there are no guarantees.

With Brooks out this week, LSU tested one potential solution if one of the starters went down. Redshirt sophomore nickel Sage Ryan moved to safety, and Toviano filled his spot.

“Really smart player and takes his craft seriously,” defensive coordinator Matt House said. “From an athletic standpoint, he’s got great length. He’s got good speed. And he can make plays on the ball.”

Freshman tight ends ‘more than we expected’

This is the case with most freshmen, but Kelly didn’t know what to expect from tight ends Mac Markway and Jackson McGohan. Markway had not played in two years because of an ACL injury, and McGohan was a later addition to the class who popped his senior year.

“We knew they were going to be players that would eventually help us in some fashion,” Kelly said, “but I think their play this spring has been more than we expected.”

With sophomore starter Mason Taylor out and intriguing freshman Ka’Morreun Pimpton enrolling this summer, Markway and McGohan have received a lot of reps. Kelly likes what he has seen.

“They’re most likely going to be able to help us in the fall,” he said.

They would contribute in different ways. LSU wants complete tight ends, but they are situational players at this point in their development. Markway has the size at 6-foot-4 and 242 pounds to contribute early as a run blocker, while McGohan appears further along as a pass catcher.

Offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Mike Denbrock said about Markway: “He can give us that physical presence that we lacked at times in the run game a year ago. He can give us some good things in there. It’s not that he can’t run and catch the ball, but I’d say right now, that’s his strength.”

Denbrock on McGohan: “Jackson is a guy who probably needs a year in the weight room to really get physically in a position where he can block the defensive ends that we have to face in this league. But he is way up on the scale as far as running and catching the ball and making plays in space.”

Both are trying to keep up mentally with the playbook right now, Denbrock said, but that doesn’t surprise the coaches at this point. Come preseason camp, they’ll be potential factors in multiple-tight end sets.

Wide receivers emerge, show depth

The few times LSU has shown its entire first-team offense, the wide receivers have been junior Malik Nabers, junior Brian Thomas and senior Kyren Lacy. While Nabers returned as the clear top option, Thomas and Lacy have made their cases for the other two spots.

“They know there’s some catches available,” Denbrock said, “and those guys have competed every practice and shown that, ‘I’m ready. I’m that dude.’ That’s been really nice to see.”

Thomas entered the spring as the most likely No. 2 after catching 31 passes for 361 yards and five touchdowns last season. He finished second on the team in touchdowns and fourth in receptions. He has more size than LSU’s other receivers at 6-4 and 201 pounds. He just needed to take the next step.

The third spot looked murkier, especially with Alabama transfer Aaron Anderson out for the spring, but Lacy has emerged early on. He caught 24 passes for 268 yards as a rotational player in his first season after transferring from UL and has a chance to earn a larger role.

“I love what Kyren’s done all spring,” Denbrock said.

Denbrock was also impressed by early enrollees Kyle Parker and Jalen Brown. They have made explosive plays downfield and contested catches. They have to learn the playbook better, but Denbrock said “those two guys aren’t out of place.” They’ll have a chance to join the rotation. Parker is in the mix at punt returner.

No cornerback clarity

The primary question entering spring practice was who would play cornerback after LSU had to overhaul the position again. Well, right now, the pecking order looks unclear.

Southeastern transfer Zy Alexander has consistently played with the first-team defense, but no one has won a job yet, especially with Syracuse transfer Duce Chestnut out. The competition is expected to stretch into preseason camp.

“I’m excited about the potential of that group,” House said, “but we’ve got a long way to go.”

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About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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