LSU football: 5 players poised for a breakout year

5 of 6

Sep 7, 2013; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; UAB Blazers quarterback Austin Brown (11) is sacked by LSU Tigers defensive end Lewis Neal (92) in the fourth quarter at Tiger Stadium. LSU defeated UAB 56-17. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Lewis Neal

Lewis Neal may not be the sexiest pick on the roster, but his potential to make a major impact for the Tigers in 2015 is unquestioned.

Sure, the junior defensive end has only recorded 10 tackles and .5 sacks during his two years at LSU, spread out over the course of four games that included just one opponent from a ‘Power 5’ conference. At 6-foot-1 and 255 pounds, he does not exactly have the ideal size to be a force on the defensive line either.

Regardless, a look into Neal’s outstanding offseason is more than reassuring that the Tigers front four will be just fine, even with Maquedius Bain serving an indefinite suspension.

After making the transition back to defensive end after a brief stint on the interior line in 2014, Neal thrived while competing for the starting job opened by Jermauria Rasco and Danielle Hunter’s departure to the NFL. The LSU coaching staff took notice.

In addition to securing a starting spot, Neal was rewarded for his impressive spring with the Alvin Roy Fourth Quarter Award for outstanding performance in the off-season program, the Newcomer Award and the Coaches Award.

“I’m a fighter,” Neal told “Wherever I go I’m going to fight. I love being an end, that’s my position. I’m never satisfied. One of the goals I set is two or more sacks and some kind of turnover. You have to keep the drive every day.”

Neal certainly has the mindset to succeed in the SEC, and his offseason performance proves that he has the talent to do so as well.

With the additions of Ed Orgeron and Kevin Steele to the coaching staff, both proven defensive specialists with an uncanny ability to get the most out of their front seven, he has a good chance to emerge onto the scene in 2015 after a quiet first two years in the program.

Next: Donte Jackson