LSU’s Nelson Jenkins opts out of season, Ed Orgeron says; Tyler Shelvin considering options

LSU defensive lineman Nelson Jenkins has opted out of the 2020 season, coach Ed Orgeron said Tuesday morning, which creates another depth hit to the Tigers’ defensive front.

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The news comes a day after defensive tackle Neil Farrell returned to the team after he became the first LSU player to opt out in early August. Farrell is expected to at least be a key rotational piece and even push for a starting position.

Orgeron said Jenkins informed the coaching staff that he was opting out, and, right now, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound sophomore is not with the football team.

“That’s all I know,” Orgeron said. “I haven’t had contact with Nelson in at least two weeks.”

Jenkins did not play in 2019, his redshirt freshman year, and his only game experience came when he recorded a tackle against Rice in 2018.

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A former defensive end, the Plaquemine High graduate moved to defensive tackle this offseason, when defensive coordinator Bo Pelini implemented a 4-3 scheme. Without Jenkins, LSU has available nine of the 11 defensive linemen listed on its official roster.

Pelini’s four-man front is still missing its biggest piece, defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin, who opted out at the end of August.

Orgeron said Tuesday that Shelvin is considering his options, but it’s uncertain whether the 6-foot-3, 346-pound junior will follow Farrell in his return back to the team.

Orgeron said Shelvin’s family has called him, but he hasn’t yet spoken with Shelvin directly. Teammates have spoken to Shelvin, Orgeron said, and “there’s not been a decision yet.”

“We’d take him back, obviously,” Orgeron said. “We want him back. I don’t know where he’s at in his mind. If he doesn’t want to come back, obviously we wish him the best. If he wants to come back, like any member of our family, we’ll take him back.”

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The Southeastern Conference announced in mid-July that players could sit out the 2020 season and still keep their scholarships — a motion that was recommended by the league’s athletic directors and approved unanimously approved by the league’s presidents and chancellors.

Depth on the LSU roster has been cut deeper beyond opt-outs.

Suspended defensive end Ray Parker was removed from the team’s roster last week, after he was arrested on battery of a dating partner and simple criminal damage to property.

Justin Thomas and TK McLendon, defensive ends whom Orgeron called starters in March, have both transferred.

Thomas has enrolled at UAB, a school official there confirmed. He will sit out the 2020 season because of transfer rules.

Since then, Joseph Evans was moved back to defense after spending the majority of the offseason at center and guard. Orgeron said earlier this month that he considers Evans a starting interior defensive lineman, along with Glen Logan and Siaki “Apu” Ika.

Orgeron said true freshmen Jaquelin Roy and Jacobian Guillory are backup tackles,  and Farrell is “going to have to earn his way back” to play against Mississippi State, when LSU opens its 10-game, league-only season on Sept. 26 at Tiger Stadium.

“There are some guys who have been busting their tails,” Orgeron said. “He’s going to have to start at the bottom of the depth chart, work his way up and see what happens.”

Andre Anthony and Travez Moore are the starting defensive ends. The fifth-year coach has also spoken highly of true freshman BJ Ojulari — a 6-foot-2, 230-pound Georgia native whom Orgeron has said will be an All-American in the future.

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