BATON ROUGE — LSU football coach Brian Kelly announced that star linebacker Harold Perkins will play more inside linebackers this season, Kelly said after spring practice Thursday.
“Now it’s time to take the whole position and teach him that he’s a linebacker,” Kelly said. “He’s a linebacker and he’s fully invested in that position.”
Perkins was LSU football’s top pass rusher on the sideline last season. As a freshman, he had an exceptional 41 quarterback pressures in 162 snaps as a pass rusher, according to Pro Football Focus.
But when the aspiring sophomore came onto campus last summer, that wasn’t supposed to be his role. Perkins is a standup inside linebacker. Like Patrick Queen, Devin White or Damone Clark before him, he was expected to defend more in cover and help finish runs inside.
However, he wasn’t mentally ready to play the role just yet. Perkins was not an early enroller available for spring training and had not even played four years of high school football before arriving at LSU.
So Kelly and defensive coordinator Matt House developed a hybrid role on the fringe to get Perkins on the field more often. He was too good an athlete not to play, even if he wasn’t ready to perform the duties of an inside linebacker.
“I thought Matt did a great job of making things a lot smoother for him so we can get him on the field and let him play fast,” Kelly said after spring practice Thursday.
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What Kelly is looking for in a new defensive line coach
Last week, LSU lost defensive line coach Jamar Cain, who left the program for an assistant coaching position with the Denver Broncos.
Cain was one of the Tigers’ best recruiters while leading LSU’s defensive line to a productive season despite Maason Smith’s injury and depth issues across the board.
In searching for his replacement, Kelly is primarily looking for someone who can develop talent and recruit at a high level in the SEC. Therefore, experience in both departments is of paramount importance.
“You can’t be inexperienced, never been to the SEC, (not) familiar with the recruiting landscape, and be a qualified candidate,” Kelly said.
LSU defensive analyst and former Colorado defensive coordinator Gerald Chatman is the Tigers’ interim defensive line coach for the remainder of this spring.
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South region. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @KokiRiley.