LSU coach Ed Orgeron and a few of his players met with the media on Tuesday as the No. 11 Tigers (9-3, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) begin their bowl preparation for No. 8 UCF (12-0, 8-0 American Athletic Conference).
Before heading to Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl, LSU will have nine practices over the course of the next 12 days prior to the Christmas break. A win against UCF, who is on a 25-game win streak, will give LSU its first 10-win season in five years and its first win in a major bowl game since the 2008 National Championship.
Devin White coming back?
All-American and Butkus Award winner Devin White had been penciled in for the 2019 NFL draft since the end of his sophomore season in 2017. There was no chance anyone thought White was going to stay.
But then, following LSU's 29-0 loss to Alabama in November, White met with the media and compared the Crimson Tide to a team he lost to three times in high school before finally getting the best of them his senior year. The comment was one of the first times White hinted at returning to LSU for his final season.
On Tuesday, sophomore linebacker Patrick Queen blew up the rumor mill.
“I don’t know what he’s gonna do,” Queen said. “He says he’s gonna stay.”
White has until Jan. 14 to make his final decision regarding the NFL draft.
Defensive backfield shuffle
LSU is going into the bowl game without its top two cornerbacks. Sophomore Greedy Williams is sitting out due to injury concerns ahead of the NFL draft and junior Kristian Fulton is recovering from surgery on an ankle injury he suffered against Arkansas.
"Terrence [Alexander] and Kary [Vincent] are going to have to step up," Orgeron said. "They're going to be challenged. UCF has some athletes there, some speed."
Alexander and Vincent struggled with the size of Texas A&M's receivers late in overtime during a 74-72 loss to the Aggies, but against UCF, the two current starters may get a reprieve. Freshman Kelvin Joseph is expected to be fully healthy by the time the game comes around, and UCF star quarterback McKenzie Milton is out with a knee injury.
The Knights are going to start freshman Darriel Mack Jr. in place of Milton. In the AAC championship game against Memphis, Mack threw for 348 yards and two touchdowns, and he added another 58 yards and four touchdowns rushing.
National Signing Day
The early date for high school players to sign their letter of intent is Dec. 19, and Orgeron says he expects most of LSU's class to sign next week instead of February.
The Tigers have 19 commitments so far and the No. 4 overall class, according to 247sports.com.
"Coaches have been out on the road recruiting and have done a tremendous job — so has our support staff," Orgeron said. "We have had some excellent weekends. We have one more big weekend coming up. We are excited about that."
LSU has six open spots left, and the focus seems to be on filling them with defensive linemen such as Ishmael Sopsher, Charles Moore, Byron Young and Siaki Ika.