Justin Thomas returns to LSU's team

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Justin Thomas returns to LSU's team

Post by admin » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:27 am

LSU junior defensive end Justin Thomas was poised for a breakout season in 2019.

The Alabama native got off to a fast start in a reserve role, appearing in five games and recording eight tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack as a defensive end.

But in late-October, with some of the biggest games on the schedule still in front of LSU, head coach Ed Orgeron announced that Thomas had withdrawn from school for personal reasons, adding that the hope was that he would return for the spring semester.

On Tuesday, Orgeron joined Off the Bench with Jordy Culotta and T-Bob Hebert and confirmed Thomas was back in school and participating in workouts with the team, meaning he will be a full-go when spring practices begin in Baton Rouge next month.

“I’m excited about Justin Thomas coming back,” Orgeron said. “Justin weighed 300 pounds. I want him to get down to 285. We’ve got him at right end. He’s quick and explosive.”

In 2018, Thomas appeared in four games and logged four tackles and a sack, with three of those tackles coming in the season opener against Southeastern Louisiana. In his freshman season the year prior, Thomas played in two games.

Thomas will be battling for playing time under first-year defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, who Orgeron hired to replace Dave Aranda following his departure for Baylor, where he accepted the job as head coach.

After four years of lining up in Aranda’s 3-4 defensive scheme, the Tigers will now shift towards more four-man fronts, something Orgeron has repeatedly said he’s excited about given the depth he’s helped build in the trenches.

“They love it,” Orgeron said of the 4-3 defensive scheme under Pelini, adding that the Tigers will have plenty of multiple looks. “We are going to be great. We are going to attack.”

Thomas will battle for playing time among a talented group of defensive linemen, which includes returning names who played plenty a year ago like Tyler Shelvin, Apu Ika, Glen Logan and Neil Farrell. Joseph Evans, T.K. McLendon, Nelson Jenkins, Jarell Cherry, Soni Fonua and Travez Moore all have another year under their belt, while Ali Gaye joined the team in January from junior college and four-stars Jaquelin Roy, Jacobian Guillory and Eric Taylor will join the team this summer.

“There are a lot of guys behind them that can rotate in,” Orgeron said. “We have Jaquelin Roy and Jacobian Guillory and Phillip Webb coming in.

“Maybe we play Tyler and Apu at the same time out there. It’s going to be fun to see these guys compete. May the best man play.”

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