These 5 LSU football players have the potential for breakout seasons

The second season of the Brian Kelly era at LSU is almost here. Preseason practice starts next week, and with it, the chance for players to secure roles in the opener against Florida State. Five returning Tigers with the potential for breakout years include:
Maason Smith, DT, R-Soph.
Smith appeared on the verge of a breakout season last year. LSU “couldn’t” single-block him during preseason camp, coach Brian Kelly later said, before he suffered a torn left ACL on the first defensive series. Smith said May 21 he was fully cleared. In nine games as a freshman, the former five-star recruit recorded five tackles for loss and four sacks. A preseason first-team All-SEC selection, Smith could be one of the best defensive linemen in the country if he regains his pre-injury form.
Sai’vion Jones, DE, Jr.
Jones finished third on the team last season with 4 ½ sacks while playing behind starting defensive end Ali Gaye. He has ideal length at 6-foot-6 and 268 pounds, and he can become a productive every-down player if he improves as a run defender. The St. James High School product has to hold off underclassmen Quency Wiggins, Da’Shawn Womack and Jaxon Howard during preseason practice, but he played with the first-team defense throughout spring ball.
Brian Thomas, WR, Jr.
Thomas posted almost identical stat lines his first two seasons: 28 receptions for 359 yards as a freshman, then 31 catches for 361 yards as a sophomore. The only thing that changed were the number of touchdowns, which jumped from two to five last year. Now, after finishing with the fifth-most yards receiving on the team last season, he has an opportunity to become the clear No. 2 option. None of the other receivers have Thomas’ build at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds.
Jacobian Guillory, DT, R-Jr.
You never want to overreact to spring football, especially because LSU was missing multiple key players, but Guillory played with noticeable energy. He has also shown more versatility as a nose guard in wider shades. Guillory, a former top 100 recruit, has made two starts in three seasons. He has 26 tackles and two tackles for loss in 26 career games. LSU should have a deeper defensive line rotation than it did last year after signing transfers Jordan Jefferson and Jalen Lee. But with a strong preseason, Guillory could play more.
Sage Ryan, DB, R-Soph.
Ryan was the other five-star prospect in LSU’s 2021 class along with Smith, but he has yet to emerge as a regular starter. Injuries limited him to four games as a freshman. Last year, he was a rotational player who recorded 23 tackles, one pass breakup and two forced fumbles while appearing in every game. With nickel Jay Ward gone, Ryan practiced with the first-team defense most of the spring. He also took reps at safety. Defensive coordinator Matt House said in the spring about Ryan: “Still a lot of room for growth, but he has been more consistent.”

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