First-year LSU coach Brian Kelly arrived in December and knew right away that the 2022 roster needed a serious facelift. There were opportunities for players to come in and get significant reps right away.
The Tigers signed 15 prospects for the ’22 class and added 15 additional players through the portal. As expected, many of these transfers will count heavily.
Two areas of urgency, the offensive line and the secondary, needed to be addressed with proven entry-level talent. Kelly and his staff brought in three potential players for each group.
Here are the top 10 newcomers who should play key roles for LSU this season.
SS Joe Foucha (5-10, 210) transfer from Arkansas.
The senior has played in 44 games for the Razorbacks with 33 starts, accumulating 231 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, 17 pass breakups and five interceptions. The three-star prospect in 2018 from McDonogh 35 will be looked upon as a season leader and set the tone for the Tiger secondary. He was a team captain at Arkansas, considered someone who brings leadership, energy and excitement to the team. He was always dancing and talking. He was nicknamed “Little Honey Badger” by his Razorback teammates.
DT Mekhi Wingo (6-0, 292) transfer from Missouri
The sophomore has a hot motor, uses his hands very well and keeps his feet moving. Last season, Wingo had 27 stops, two for loss and one sack. His highlight was a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown against North Texas. an explosive athlete with a high football IQ, he can line up anywhere along the defensive line. Wingo played for LSU defensive backs coach Robert Steeples in high school, where he was the Missouri Class 6A State Player of the Year as a junior and senior.
RB Noah Cain (5-11, 225) transfer from Penn State
A rookie this season, Cain is a tough runner between the tackles, but also a good receiver out of the backfield. He set a Penn State rushing mark with eight rushing touchdowns, breaking the previous record held by DJ Dozier and Saquon Barkley. He was the first Nittany Lion freshman to post back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. Cain, a Baton Rouge native who prepped at IMG Academy, is a cousin of former LSU star Michael Clayton, who spent eight years in the NFL. A four-star prospect in 2019, Cain was a two-time Academic All Big Ten. Injuries derailed his career in Happy Valley. Cain has great character.
LG Tre’Mond Shorts (6-5, 340) transfer from East Tennessee State
An experienced FCS starter at left tackle, Shorts hopes to make an impact in the SEC in 2022, his final season. A road grader, he is competing at guard for the Tigers. He has 41 career starts (40 straight), including nearly 2,700 snaps. He’s rated as a consistent pass blocker (90% in ’21; 76.3% as a run blocker). As his size suggests, Shorts is a powerful space-creating blocker.
OL Miles Frazier (6-5, 325) transfer from Florida International
The redshirt sophomore was a Freshman All American in ’21 as a left tackle. Frazier can line up at either guard or in the stack, but he appears set at right guard coming into the spring. Considered the 22nd best transfer prospect overall this offseason, he drew offers from LSU, Ohio State and Florida State.
LT Will Campbell (6-6, 324) 2022 four-star signee from Neville High
Perhaps the biggest overall surprise during spring training from start to finish, Tiger looks to be on track to be a bona fide starter after a strong collection of spring practices. Wearing a Tiger jersey was his childhood dream. Extremely mature and advanced, Campbell has created high expectations that he could be another Andrew Whitworth, Lance “Big Daddy” Smith or Saahdiq Charles. All were freshmen running the left tackle position at LSU, later advancing to the NFL. Campbell has done it before; he started as a freshman at Neville and never left the field. He plays behind his pads and doesn’t let his emotions get him too high or too low. Very stable and technical sound, the Campbell will only improve with repetition.
CB Jarrick Bernard-Converse (6-2, 201) transfer from Oklahoma State
A senior this season, JBC may be the best overall addition to come through the transfer window. Playing 51 games at Oklahoma State with 47 starts, he totaled 216 tackles, 24 pass breakups, seven for loss and four sacks. Very versatile and sharp, Bernard-Converse was named All Big 12 Academic twice. Pro Football Focus had him allowing just 50% of the passes completed in his zone as an outside corner. The former Evangel Christian Academy star returns to Louisiana soil after leaving as a three-star prospect in 2018. A willing player with a nose for the ball, he recorded 14 stops against Texas Tech as a true freshman. Bernard-Converse is expected to be a leader in the locker room.
CB Greg Brooks, Jr. (5-9, 185) transfers from Arkansas
A senior in ’22, he prepped at West Jefferson. His father Greg played with the Cincinnati Bengals. In 31 starts for the Hogs, the younger Brooks amassed 112 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 12 pass breakups and four interceptions. He picked off a pass against Mississippi State and returned it 69 yards for a score. Brooks will give the Tigers a wealth of secondary experience thanks to over 1,700 SEC defensive snaps over the past two seasons. He leads the depth chart at nickel corner.
QB Jayden Daniels (6-3, 180) transfers from Arizona State
The junior has a skill set unmatched in LSU’s talented QB room. He is a legitimate threat that Brian Kelly will use. Daniels played in 29 games for the Sun Devils, passing for 6,025 yards, 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. In 2021, he also rushed for 710 yards. While at Cajon High in San Bernadino, Calif., he accounted for 14,007 passing yards and 170 touchdown passes, adding 3,645 rushing yards and 41 scores (6.4 yards per carry). The dual threat should have a role in LSU’s offense, whether as a starter or change of pace quarterback. The defense will be forced to account for him as a runner. Selected as the 2019 Sun Bowl MVP, Daniels was 12 of 28 passing for 195 yards plus 12 carries for 36 yards in the Sun Devils’ 20-14 victory. He is by far the most experienced college starter at the position on LSU’s roster.
2022 five-star OLB Harold Perkins (6-2, 220).
A New Orleans native, Perkins is considered the best player in the state of Texas and the crown jewel of the Tigers’ class. Too talented to sit out this season, it’s only a matter of time before Perkins. Tiger fans hope his time in Baton Rouge can mirror that of a pair of former quarterbacks in program history who excelled as true freshmen, Bradie James and Trev Faulk. Perkins plays with an attacking style, displaying impressive shooting skills. He is a confident player in the open field with 4.49 speed. Perkins can match up with a running back, wide receiver or tight end in coverage.