After talking about the offensive newcomers, it is time to shift gears and focus on the defensive newcomers that will be joining LSU. Today, I will talk about the newest defensive linemen that will join the Tigers and I will even include the Jack players too as they are defensive end/linebacker hybrids.
This is an important defensive line class for LSU as only two starters return from last season in freshman All-SEC defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo and defensive tackle Maason Smith, who returns after tearing his ACL in the first game of the 2022 season against Florida State.
These players will either compete for a lot of playing time this upcoming fall or possibly even starting time. Since we are on the discussion, LSU picked up three interior defensive linemen all from the transfer portal. All three players come from Power Five programs and bring DI playing experience to the table.
First, there is Jordan Jefferson. It is not the former LSU quarterback, but instead, it is a defensive tackle from West Virginia. Over a four-year period in which he has appeared in 42 games while starting 17 games at nose tackle, the two-time Academic All-Big 12 selection totaled 54 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and seven pass breakups.
The former Mountaineer will have one more year of eligibility left and will spend it in Baton Rouge. He will get a chance to take his game to the next level under defensive line coach Jamar Cain. LSU head coach Brian Kelly has stated that the 6’4, 305-pound senior is one of the key defensive transfers that he expects to contribute a lot to the defense this coming year.
Also filling in depth on the inside is Jalen Lee. Playing his prep football at Live Oak High School in Watson, Louisiana, Lee returns back home after originally starting his college career at Florida. During his time in Gainesville, he posted 19 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks in 25 career games.
The 6’3, 315-pound Louisiana product was a four-star coming out of high school and chose to play at Florida despite heavy pursuit from then head coach Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers. The two-time All-District selection had 137 tackles and 17.5 sacks while playing primarily nose tackle. The one-time LSU commit will now plan on coming to Baton Rouge with two more years of eligibility remaining. Lee shows great technique and can develop to be a great run stuffer.
The third defensive tackle transfer to come from a Power Five program is former Arizona Wildcat Paris Shand. Although he is not as big as the other two defensive tackles, Shand makes up for it with his great athleticism and length on the inside at 6’5, 290 pounds. Born in Canada, the athletic Shand was a member of the country’s U16 National Basketball Team and won a Silver Medal at the FIBA U16 Americas Championship in Argentina.
During his time in Arizona, this impressive athlete appeared in 24 games starting 10 of them. He also came off a standout sophomore campaign with 39 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
The Tigers also took advantage of the transfer portal in getting Power Five defensive end transfers as well that will fill in the BJ Ojulari Jack pass rusher role.
First, there is Texas transfer Ovie Oghoufo, who at 6’4, 245 pounds, will play his final season in Baton Rouge. This will be Oghoufo’s third and final stop after playing at Texas and previously playing for Notre Dame. Now, Oghoufo will end his career playing for the coach that helped start his career in Brian Kelly.
Needing a replacement at the Jack position with BJ Ojulari entering the NFL Draft, Oghoufo seems to be a natural fill in as he has had plenty of success on the edge playing in over 40 games with 118 total tackles and seven sacks. The longtime veteran is coming off his best season yet with 54 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, four quarterback hurries, and three pass breakups.
Oregon transfer Bradyn Swinson also gives the Tigers another great option at the Jack position. At 6’4, 249 pounds, Swinson is extremely talented and has the ability to be a great pass rushing addition to defensive coordinator Matt House’s system.
Swinson comes to Baton Rouge with two more years of eligibility remaining after playing his last three seasons in Eugene. During his time there, he finished with 35 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, three pass breakups and a forced fumble with his best performance coming in an upset top five victory over Ohio State back in 2021 when he was awarded the Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week.
The Tigers’ coaching staff also picked up three freshmen defensive ends from the high school ranks to add even more depth.
A candidate for potential breakout freshmen has to be defensive end Jaxon Howard. At 6’4, 243 pounds, Howard has all the makings of becoming the next great LSU pass rusher. Rated as the number one overall prospect in the state of Minnesota, Howard was rated as high as the number nine player at his position in the country by 247.
Coming from Robbinsdale Cooper High School in Crystal, Minnesota, it is definitely a rare, but impressive addition thanks to the effort of defensive line coach Jamar Cain. The four-star prospect ended up choosing the Tigers over Miami, Michigan, and Minnesota. Howard also has the bloodlines of becoming a great player as his dad Willie Howard was a standout defensive lineman himself at Stanford. What also sets Howard apart is his versatility as not only he was a great defensive player, but he doubled as a tight end as well. Knowing his athleticism and versatility, Howard could see the field at perhaps either position when all said and done at LSU.
Da’Shawn Womack is another highly rated physical specimen from powerhouse St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, Maryland. At an impressive 6’5, 266 pounds, Womack was one of the nation’s top players as a five star prospect by 247 and as the number one overall player in Maryland. The Under Armour All-American was dominant his senior season by posting 48 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, and five fumble recoveries.
Like Howard, Womack has the potential to be a star at LSU and was another gem in this recruiting class as he chose the Tigers over Georgia, Ole Miss, Oregon, and Arizona. He has the quickness and speed to play on the outside while also having the frame to fill out to play on the inside. Womack is with the team in the spring and is working his way to practice full-time with the team after having shoulder surgery.
Finally, there is St. Amant High School three-star defensive end Dylan Carpenter, who announced his decision to commit to the Tigers after LSU’s win against Alabama this past November. The one-time Ragin’ Cajun commit was a dominant defensive player in Louisiana as he earned 1st Team All-District and All-Metro honors his senior season while also earning the Parish and the District’s Defensive MVP honors his junior season.
Carpenter is flying under the radar as one of the program’s underrated signings as he brings length and versatility to the table at 6’4, 234 pounds. During his prep career, he has played both linebacker and defensive end giving them some more depth at the position.
Considering all the losses at the defensive line, the coaching staff has done a good job of filling their needs in the transfer portal while also getting some talented players with tremendous upside through the high school ranks.
To read more about the future Tigers, check out the rest of our “Meet LSU’s Latest Additions” articles below. Next up, I will talk about the newest linebackers to join the Tigers.