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LSU planning to play Harold Perkins as an inside linebacker again in 2023

February 27th, 2024

LSU‘s Harold Perkins had 7.5 sacks as a freshman in 2022. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

LSU wants to use Harold Perkins in the middle of the defense once again in 2024.

As the linebacker enters his third season with the Tigers, coach Brian Kelly wants Perkins to continue the transition to inside linebacker. Perkins played part of the 2023 season as an off-ball linebacker after he was a breakout star on the edge in 2022 as a freshman.

“He needs to be in the action,” LSU coach Brian Kelly told the Baton Rouge Advocate. “He needs to be the [weakside] linebacker. He needs to be in the box. He needs to be active in there. That’s where he’s going to start, and we’ve got to get him ready at that position.”

Perkins is listed at 6-1 and 220 pounds — much smaller than a typical edge rusher, especially in the NFL. But his size didn’t prohibit him from being one of the most disruptive players in the SEC off the corner in 2022. Perkins had 13 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks as a freshman. He singlehandedly dominated Arkansas as a freshman with three sacks and two forced fumbles and also recorded a sack and eight tackles in a win over Alabama that season.

But despite Perkins’ pass-rush success in 2022, Kelly and his staff wanted to put him in a different role in 2023. Perkins spent the offseason working as a linebacker who could do a little bit of everything and even play some pass coverage.

Perkins’ naïveté when it came to his new position was on full display in LSU’s season-opening loss to Florida State. He hardly made an impact as Florida State announced to the country that it was worthy of the College Football Playoff.

He ultimately finished the season with 5.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles as he learned the nuances of his new responsibilities.

This season, Perkins will be playing for a new defensive coordinator as well. LSU hired Missouri defensive coordinator Blake Baker to run its defense in 2024 after the Tigers from Columbia had a 12-2 season. Kelly told the Advocate that he hoped the change of defensive scheme would ultimately make Perkins more aggressive in his new position.

“We can lock him into some specific things that will allow him to play really fast,” Kelly told the paper. “The key is he’s got to play fast. He’s got to be able to utilize his talents. And so we’ve got to be able to help him out with that.”

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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