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Early Standouts of LSU Fall Camp

Early Standouts of LSU Fall Camp

The LSU Tigers took the field last week to begin Fall Camp. While expectations are high for this year’s team, questions remain at a few position groups. LSU seems to have added talented players at the cornerback position, but time will tell if they can play at the level required for the Tigers to reach their lofty goals. The running back position has several options but no clear-cut leader with Josh Williams nursing an injury.

Tiger fans know what to expect from certain players. For example, Malik Nabers and Maason Smith have been dominant. Fortunately for LSU, lesser-known players have stepped up in hopes of making a name for themselves in 2023. Today, we’ll cover five players who have stood out in the first week of fall camp.

Early Standouts of LSU Fall Camp

Duce Chestnut, Cornerback

Much has been said about the wide receivers mercilessly beating the defensive backs early on in camp. However, transfer cornerback Duce Chestnut reportedly has been a bright spot and could be a starting cornerback against Florida State. According to Sage Ryan, a returning defensive back, “He’s a great player, as you can see. He broke up…he had five PBU’s in one day. So that’s crazy.” Defensive Coordinator Matt House described him as a “heady player”.

Chestnut was a four-star recruit as a high school prospect and an All-ACC player at Syracuse. LSU signed four transfer corners in 2023. Texas A&M transfer Denver Harris generated the most excitement from fans, but Chestnut and Southeastern transfer Zy Alexander are getting the most first-string practice reps at this point.

Chris Hilton, Wide Receiver

Now in his third season, the speedy redshirt sophomore finally appears healthy enough to turn potential into production. The son of two former Southern University track athletes, Chris Hilton has always had the eye-popping athleticism and speed to threaten a defense. Injuries and a stacked depth chart combined to relegate him to an afterthought. Suddenly, Kayshon Boutte and Jaray Jenkins are off to the NFL. This is Hilton’s best chance to break into the rotation, and it appears that he is ready to capitalize.

Hilton has bulked up to withstand the physical nature of the SEC. He also scored two 40-yard touchdowns in Saturday’s practice. Offensive Coordinator Mike Denbrock spoke on the progress of Hilton, “I love the direction that Chris is going in. He’s really, I think as much as anybody, he is beginning to stake his claim to some playing time.” Hilton does not have the size of receivers like Kyren Lacy or Brian Thomas, but he offers a different element that could help open the Tiger offense.

Mac Markway, Tight End

Of the three true freshman tight-end signees, 6’6” Ka’Morreun Pimpton is the most gifted pass catcher. We chose Mac Markway as a standout because he’s shown off impressive receiver skills that contradicted projections as him as more of an in-line, blocking tight end. Markway has proven to be a better route runner and receiver than originally thought, so his well-rounded game could make him more valuable than any tight end on the roster other than Mason Taylor.

Denbrock stated that Markway has had the best camp out of freshmen tight ends so far. It’s a credit to the coaching staff that LSU went from having one quality tight end in 2022 to apparently four that they can trust in just one year.

Zalance Heard, Offensive Tackle

It appears that Zalance Heard is not one to sit quietly and wait on an opportunity. In an awe-inspiring display of humility, Heard announced that he would beat out his former high school teammate and freshman All-American Will Campbell for the left tackle spot at LSU. That could be a stretch, but the physical prowess that Heard has exhibited in fall camp will not allow the staff to keep him off the field.

Heard has held his own against Mekhi Wingo and the talented LSU defensive line. It’s too early to know where he will make his mark on the offensive line this year, but he’s more likely than not to find his way onto the field somewhere.

Andre Sam, Safety

Andre Sam started for three seasons at McNeese and one season at Marshall. He’s as experienced as one can get at the college level. While experience is one thing, playmaking ability is another. Sam has consistently made plays throughout fall camp. He’s broken up passes and made interceptions at one of the thinnest positions on the LSU team.

Even with the cornerback questions on this team, they at least have numbers at the position. Nobody knows what to expect at safety after returning starters Major Burns and Greg Brooks. Andre Sam’s ability can add depth to the position, as well as flexibility. There has been talk of three safety looks on defense, and Sam could prove to be much more valuable than most thought when he committed.

Photo Credit: SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

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