The 10 LSU football players we're most intrigued to watch during preseason practice

Staff writer
LSU starts preseason football practice Thursday morning, and with its return to the field comes the first chance to see what the team looks like heading into the 2023 season.
There are plenty of well-known players, such as wide receiver Malik Nabers and defensive tackle Mekhi Wingo, who gave LSU the continuity that has increased expectations. But there are also new names.
For one reason or another, certain players enter preseason camp with more intrigue than others. A few potential starters missed spring ball and are able to practice again. Some highly touted freshmen arrived this summer. Multiple transfers will practice with LSU for the first time.
Practices should reveal how everyone fits into the depth chart before the opener against Florida State. Here are the 10 players we're most intrigued to watch over the next month.
Maason Smith, DT, R-Soph.
You’re going to hear Smith’s name often throughout camp. The former five-star recruit looked primed for a breakout season last year before he suffered a season-ending ACL injury, and his return is one of the most important storylines of the season. If Smith regains his pre-injury form, he could be a disruptive force on the interior who helps give LSU’s edge rushers favorable match-ups. Fully cleared now, Smith’s progress will draw a lot of attention.
Aaron Anderson, WR, R-Fr.
Anderson was committed to LSU before the firing of former coach Ed Orgeron. He then picked Alabama, but Anderson returned to his home state after a season in which he appeared in one game because of injuries. Anderson missed spring practice as he recovered from a knee procedure. At Edna Karr High, he was a dynamic playmaker and the No. 1 recruit in Louisiana, according to the 247Sports composite. What will he look like now?
Logan Diggs, RB, Jr.
One of the only additions LSU made after spring practice, Diggs has a chance to establish himself as one of the leaders in a deep rotation. He recorded 822 yards rushing and 211 yards receiving at Notre Dame last season, showing the skill set of a productive all-around running back. Preseason practice will reveal how Diggs fits into a new position room. The Tigers have seven other running backs, but none of them bring as much career production.
Ka’Morreun Pimpton, TE, Fr.
Pimpton was an early signing day flip from Vanderbilt, and LSU coaches couldn’t wait to work with him once he arrived this summer. Pimpton has impressive athleticism and a wide catch radius at 6-foot-6, making him a potential early red-zone threat. LSU brought back only one tight end, sophomore starter Mason Taylor, so there are available roles. The other two freshman tight ends look like they needed development in the spring. Pimpton might be a quick contributor.
Denver Harris, CB, Soph.
Based on pure talent, Harris may be the best cornerback on LSU’s roster. He was a five-star recruit and the No. 23 overall player in the country in 2022, according to the 247Sports composite, before playing in five games as a freshman at Texas A&M. Does that mean he will start? No. Harris looked raw this spring, and he needs to make strides to take one of the cornerback spots. He’s a fascinating player in a wide-open competition.
Da’Shawn Womack, DE, Fr.
Womack, one of two five-star recruits in the freshman class, may be a good enough pass rusher to break into the rotation. Womack recorded 26 tackles for loss and 15 sacks his senior year at St. Frances Academy, which plays a difficult national schedule out of Baltimore. Since he got to LSU, Womack has grown to 6-foot-5 and more than 270 pounds, but he has the versatility to play some Jack linebacker. He will go through his first full practices after recovering this spring from labrum surgery.
Zalance Heard, OL, Fr.
The other five-star freshman, Heard has the confidence to believe he can unseat former Neville High teammate Will Campbell at left tackle. He probably won’t, but Heard may push for playing time on a talented offensive line. He’s 6-foot-6 and 340 pounds with long arms, athleticism and remarkable strength. LSU has five offensive linemen with starting experience. But Heard, a summer enrollee, could create competition.
Duce Chestnut, CB, Jr.
Chestnut has the most experience out of LSU’s four transfer cornerbacks after starting all 24 games the past two seasons at Syracuse. His first year, Chestnut finished with the second-most pass breakups (eight) in the ACC and led the team with three interceptions to become a freshman All-American. He earned honorable mention All-ACC recognition the next season with one pick and five pass breakups. Chestnut, who’s 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, missed spring practice.
Chris Hilton, WR, R-Soph.
Hilton has flown under the radar in a talented room because injuries riddled his first two seasons. He underwent three surgeries, which limited him to eight games so far in his career. But don’t forget Hilton signed in 2021 as a top 100 recruit and the No. 3 player in Louisiana, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He was a higher-rated prospect than Malik Nabers or Brian Thomas. Few players can match his top speed.
Jordan Jefferson, DT, Sr.
No, not that Jordan Jefferson. This one is a 6-foot-4, 317-pound transfer from West Virginia who appeared in 42 games over four seasons with the Mountaineers. Jefferson turned into a starter last year and led the team with 9 ½ tackles for loss. He also added 31 tackles and three sacks. LSU signed three interior defensive line transfers — Jefferson, Jalen Lee (Florida) and Paris Shand (Arizona) — to add depth. Jefferson was the only one who missed spring ball.

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