Grab a brush and paint this picture: it’s a sunny day in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the LSU Tigers are playing in their annual Spring game. The stands are… well, they’re pretty empty because of an incorrect weather forecast. And then, out of nowhere, a player emerges from the second string shadows, catching a one-handed, 70-yard touchdown pass that leaves everyone stunned. Who is this mystery man, you ask? None other than LSU’s own underdog wide receiver Kyren Lacy, who caught just one pass on nine targets in last year’s Spring game. Yes, you heard that right. One catch on nine targets. He might’ve been playing blindfolded back then, but he certainly isn’t now.
Spring Game Recap
The LSU Spring Game ended in a 32-32 tie, with the defense having its own set of scoring rules. The offense featured some notable players, including Lacy, but we’ll get to him. Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. looked to be in their usual, impressive form at the wide receiver position.
Quarterback Jayden Daniels looked nearly perfect and showed improvement in his precision when throwing to the flats, out routes, and crossing routes. He also demonstrated a willingness to throw deep, although he did overthrow his longest pass. Daniels finished the game with two touchdowns and no turnovers. Backup quarterback Garret Nussmeir also put up decent numbers, also finishing with two touchdowns and no turnovers.
Linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. stood out as a natural at the Mike Linebacker position and made some impressive plays, including a TFL on a blitz through one of the inside gaps. Perkins, Greg Penn III, and Omar Speights will head up the linebacker room when fall rolls around.
The secondary was led by Zy Alexander and JK Johnson, with Laterrance Welch and Denver Harris playing on the second team. Welch was the only player to have any pass breakups in the game and looked fantastic. However, Coach Brian Kelly mentioned in his press conference that there is work to be done in the secondary. Specifically in regard to tackling.
Field goal kicking was a weakness for both Damian Ramos and Nathan Dibert as they both missed their only attempt beyond 40 yards, leaving the starting position up in the air. The punt returner position is also undecided after trying out several players, including last year’s Greg Clayton.
Overall, there were some standout performances, but there is still work to be done before the team is where it needs to be.
More on Lacy
Back to the star of the show. Lacy, a three-star recruit out of high school, wasn’t heavily recruited by LSU. He mentioned in an interview with Matt Moscona on After Further Review that he’d been to a few LSU camps in high school, but nothing more. Lacy ended up playing at Louisiana Lafayette, transferred after his sophomore season, then had a pretty ugly junior year at LSU. He looked especially rough in the Texas A&M game with a few critical dropped passes. All things considered, last year’s mistakes were nearly forgotten because of this:
KYREN LACY ONE HANDED GRAB AND TO THE HOUSE! pic.twitter.com/TFEm3Yd8Zu
— Matthew Brune (@MatthewBrune_) April 22, 2023
Or, at least the conversation surrounding him has taken a turn after that superhuman snag and run.
You might be thinking, “Was it a fluke?” Maybe. “Are we blowing this out of proportion?” Absolutely. That’s what Spring games are for. Either way, he caught four of his five targets in the spring game and led the team in every receiving category. Yes, Daniels was brilliant, completing 10 of his 11 passes. So, credit to Daniels. Nonetheless, We should admire Lacy’s turnaround. He’s now all but cemented himself as the number three wide receiver at LSU, and will likely be in the starting lineup alongside Nabers and Thomas Jr.
Now, why didn’t we see his potential before? Well, for starters, Lacy had limited playing time. The biggest reason, though, was mistakes. Several balls bounced off his hands last year that were more than catchable. While that may sound like a bad thing on the surface, it’s actually a pretty good omen. It meant he was getting open. As they say, hindsight is 2020. By looks, Lacy isn’t anything special. Though, he’s not not special. He’s 6-2 and 212 pounds; he’s built like your typical wide receiver. Last season he caught 24 passes for 268 yards, with his longest being a 45-yarder. Nothing special. Heck, you could even call it mediocre. Now, with that one-handed catch, he’s a legend. Okay, he’s not a legend at all, but we can have fun with some hyperbole once in a while, can’t we?
Brian Kelly’s Input
Kelly had fair praise for Lacy in the post-game presser, and shed a little light on the improvement everyone saw from the wide receiver. “The work that he’s been doing is much more about consistent approach in practice,” said Kelly. “I think we’re starting to see how that’s translating to performance.” The head coach also shared his thoughts on Lacy’s opportunity to see more playing time this season. “Lacy being very dynamic with the football in hands adds to a mix of receivers that can, obviously, be very good for us in the SEC,” he said. It’s a good sign because Nabers and Thomas Jr. can’t carry the entire load at the wideout and slot. Or, it wouldn’t be preferable. Coach Kelly seems confident that Lacy can be a solid 3rd target for Daniels. If that is the case, we’re looking at a dangerous trio.
The Objective Truth
Bringing this conversation back down to Earth, you cannot judge a player on a single game or a single play. And you certainly cannot on a single catch in a Spring game. Spring games are, historically, little indication of how well a player’s season will go. In all likelihood, Lacy will have a decent year hovering around number three or four on the team in receiving production. Maybe one day we’ll be watching him on Sundays, catching game-winning touchdowns on his way to the NFL’s Hall of Fame.
Then again, maybe he’ll just be a really cool high school football coach who can say he once caught a one-handed, 70-yard pass in an LSU spring game. The truth is, any player’s spring performance means very little. This is simply an indicator of what Lacy is capable of when he’s hot. He may not have had an electric start to his college career, but he has proven that anything is possible with his performance on Saturday.
Photo courtesy:SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK