LSU football star listed as one of the players with "most to prove" in 2024

LSU football enters its third season under Brian Kelly’s leadership with a hump to get over. According to ESPN, this Tigers’ defender has the most to prove in 2024.

Oct 21, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Army Black Knights running back Kanye Udoh (26) is hit by
Oct 21, 2023; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Army Black Knights running back Kanye Udoh (26) is hit by / Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Harold Perkins is one of the most talented defenders in college football. However, the outside linebacker did not achieve his desired effect in 2023. Thus, the sophomore has the most to prove in the 2024 college football season.

Perkins landed on ESPN’s list of college football players and coaches with the most to prove. According to Bill Connelly, Perkins was “one of the biggest disappointments in 2023.”

"After recording 13.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles in only 498 snaps as a freshman, Perkins produced 15, 5.5, and three, respectively, in 746 snaps last season. Good? Obviously. But not quite as transcendent."

Bill Connelly, ESPN

Connelly is right.

Any college football team would welcome Perkins’ 2023 production. However, the New Orleans (La.) native failed to achieve the defensive dominance we expected after his 2022 finish. Playing in an awful scheme where every LSU football defender underperformed did not help.

The Tigers dedicated time during the 2023 offseason to transitioning Perkins to inside linebacker. The project quickly fell apart after LSU was crushed by Florida State in Week 1. Perkins looked small while trying to manage the middle of the field and was quickly lost in the action.

Matt House eventually shifted Perkins back to outside linebacker, but he was frequently dropped into coverage and not in a position to do what he does best in rushing the passer. Perkins finished the 2023 with 43 solo tackles (13 for loss) and 5.5 sacks. By comparison, the linebacker accumulated 39 solo tackles (13 for loss) and 7.5 sacks in fewer games started in 2022.

Thankfully, House’s malpractice led to his dismissal in January. Kelly subsequently hired Blake Baker away from Missouri. There is arguably no better coach than Baker to get Perkins back on track to play like the best college football defender. Baker is a former Tulane linebacker who previously served as LSU football’s linebackers coach.

Baker also turned Mizzou’s defense from an SEC bottom-feeder into a top-25 unit in college football.

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I expect Perkins to be much wiser this season and in the best position to get to the quarterback. Indeed, the linebacker has to prove that his 2022 emergence was no fluke and that he is a Bednarik Award-caliber player in 2024.