Who Will Replace Mills At LSU?
After safety Jalen Mills was arrested on June 11 on a charge of second degree battery of a woman in his apartment complex and suspended indefinitely from the team, many LSU fans have wondered who will replace last season's leader in interceptions if the suspension is not lifted by the season opener against Wisconsin.
Here is a breakdown of the candidates who could take his spot.
Most Likely Replacements
Jamal Adams was a five-star safety in the 2014 recruiting class and could ultimately get the nod against Wisconsin. Adams has the ability to cover receivers in press coverage, and he can also lay the wood like a safety. He's not the biggest player on the field, but he plays like it.
John Battle IV is the definition of an intriguing player. A four-star safety out of Florida, he finished second in the 110-meter hurdles in the Florida High School State Championships. That's true speed. He is 6-feet, 180 pounds, hits like a truck and has a nose for the football. His technique in coverage is suspect, but if he can clean that up before the season we could see him on the field earlier than expected.
Corey Thompson will most likely replace Mills, unless one of the new arrivals steps up their game. A junior, he has been a starter, but he was benched last season for poor play. This is his chance at redemption. By all accounts, he has worked hard in the spring and summer to raise his level of play.
Least Likely Replacements
Ed Paris, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back, has prototypical cornerback size. Paris played well in the L-Club Spring Game and has cemented a spot at cornerback. With long arms and quick hip-action, he could be what Rashard Robinson was last season by making his presence felt as the third corner on the staff.
Rickey Jefferson is in a tough spot. He is a talented safety and is extremely athletic, but the depth chart is not in his favor. Thompson is ahead of him and would most likely be called upon first, mainly due to seniority. Jefferson can make plays, but I only see him replacing Mills in the nickel, rather than at his true free safety position. His time will come; just not this season.
Obviously, the loss of Mills is a big blow. He brought a sense of security to the defense and would have been the most important piece to the secondary this season. He could do it all on defense and had a bright future at safety. With his play-making skills and tackling ability, he is a serious 2016 NFL Draft prospect. But if he's not able to play in Week One against Wisconsin, someone is going to have to fill some pretty big shoes and prove that this LSU defense is still in good hands at the safety position.