VIDEO: Late Kick: Will LSU contend in the SEC again in 2023?
The NCAA has suspended LSU defensive tackle Maason Smith for the first game of the season against Florida State for receiving an improper benefit, according to Wilson Alexander of The Advocate. Smith suffered a season-ending injury in the first quarter of last season’s opener with Florida State. Smith is a high-potential player on LSU’s defensive line. He had 19 tackles (13 solo) as a freshman. Five of the tackles were for a loss, he also had 4.0 sacks. Smith is a former five-star prospect in the Class of 2021. He was ranked No. 31 nationally and the No. 7 defensive lineman.
LSU edge rusher Saivion Jones raved about Smith prior to his reported suspension.
“He’s probably the most passionate player on the team. I get where he is coming from having to sit out the whole year. Now him getting back on the field, I can see the passion and how good he is coming along,” Jones said, via Geaux247. “He’s definitely always had that passion and you can see it when he makes big plays, but with the injury it just kind of stacked on to it.”
The Tigers have College Football Playoff aspirations and look to topple a Florida State team that shares the same goal as Week 1’s most anticipated affair.
Smith instead makes his season debut against Grambling State in Week 2, marking just over a year since he last saw game action. Returning from an injury can sometimes cause a player to hesitate. LSU coach Brian Kelly recently explained why he doesn’t think the mental barrier of potential a re-injury will plague Smith.
“I think there is a process that goes along with that, but I think that it was something that was taken care of during the summer,” Kelly said. “The players did a lot of player-led practices where he was involved in drill work. So, I think he vetted a lot of that out through the summer. So when he came into camp, there hasn’t been hesitation and he hasn’t been feeling his way through it. I’m sure there is going to be some feeling his way out when it comes to that first game in over a year. To answer your question, I think a lot of that hesitation has diminished because of what he did throughout the summer.”
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After Florida State and Grambling, LSU travels to Mississippi State and hosts Arkansas. The Tigers then face Ole Miss and Missouri on the road before returning home to battle Auburn and LSU. The final stretch of the season includes a road game against Alabama and three consecutive home games against Florida, Georgia State and Texas A&M.