LSU proudly proclaims themselves as “Defensive Back University.” With a double-digit amount of Tigers defensive backs in the NFL, it’s clear Baton Rouge is home to great secondary play.
Since 2000, LSU has had 21 defensive backs drafted, with six going in the first round. Four of those went on to become NFL Pro Bowlers.
LSU’s Rising Star
The next up is rising sophomore safety Grant Delpit.
Born on September 20, 1998 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Delpit moved to Houston, Texas after Hurricane Katrina.
He played his junior season at Lamar High School winning 11 games and earning District 20-6A All-District Honorable Mention in 2015.
After the season, Delpit decided to transfer to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida for his 2016 senior campaign. The private boarding school has become a popular destination for top prep prospects since the football program’s inception in 2013.
“I made the decision because at IMG there is the best opportunity to prepare me for college academically and for football,” Delpit said to LoneStarPreps.com. “It’ll also allow me to live in a college type environment that will prepare me for college in January.”
Considered America’s most talented high school football team, the Ascenders 2015 roster included 13 four-star and five five-star recruits. Among them were the #1 ranked quarterback and tight end, as well as the #2 ranked inside linebacker and cornerback in the nation.
Their entire roster was recruited by FBS schools, a feat no other program can claim.
In the summer before his senior year, Delpit was selected to The Opening. The annual invite-only event showcases the country’s elite high school players at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
On a loaded IMG team, the safety helped lead the Ascenders to an undefeated season. He played in 10 games amassing 47 tackles, with one tackle for loss, five interceptions, and six pass deflections.
For his superb play during the year, Delpit was named an Under Armour All-American.
Ranked as a consensus four-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals, and 247Sports, Delpit was heavily recruited.
With nearly 30 offers, the nation’s fourth-ranked safety elected to cut his list down to 10 in April 2016. The schools in his top group were LSU, Notre Dame, Baylor, Alabama, Florida, USC, TCU, Miami (FL), Clemson, and Oklahoma.
Hold That Tiger!
LSU recruited Delpit the hardest. As their top defensive priority, they were selling him on a return to his home state and competing for immediate playing time at safety.
“I mean, I’ve always liked LSU growing up, being from New Orleans and everything,” Delpit stated to NOLA.com. “And of course it’s one of the best in the SEC. It was a childhood favorite for me … I think it’ll definitely be a factor having all the family pretty close to campus.”
He went on to express to SEC Country that “basically, they’re losing a bunch of safeties, so I can come in and earn a spot and some early playing time. He (DB’s coach Corey Raymond) said I can come in and play pretty early like, and because I measure up to the tall guys I can play like Jamal Adams. I could be a good addition to the team. It’s definitely a blessing, seeing where those guys are at right now. Imagining me at those positions would be a dream come true.”
During the 2016 spring, Delpit visited the LSU campus twice developing a strong relationship with the coaching staff that helped solidify the Tigers as his leader.
“I’m on their board, and that’s a big thing for me,” Delpit said to SEC Country. “I’m not just another guy. They pay attention to the small stuff. They wanted me to come here and check them out, and I might be out there for their LSU camp in July. ”
The LSU coaching staff certainly made an impression on Delpit.
“They talk to me every day through Twitter, talk to me every day through text, and they check up on me all the time. They never forget about me, and that means a lot to me, and it means I’m on their board.”
Although other schools made a push for him late in the process, he ultimately decided LSU was the best fit.
Delpit committed to LSU in July 2016 and never wavered.
He enrolled early joining his new teammates in January 2017.
The 6-foot-3, 201-pound safety boasts the skill set and versatility to be successful at the college level.
With his exceptional size and playmaking abilities, Delpit’s exactly what LSU wants at the position.
He can deliver big hits to running backs and receivers, as well as blanket pass catchers in coverage.
Although Delpit runs a 4.63 40-yard dash, the Louisiana native plays faster than his time suggests due to his excellent instincts and range that allow him to make plays on the ball.
In his analysis of Delpit, Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports concludes that “packag[ing] it all together, the ability to quickly diagnose, the high football IQ and the athleticism and Delpit is a playmaker in the secondary and with his tackling ability can also be that eraser on the back end needed to eliminate a front-seven mistake.”
With All-American safety Jamal Adams now in the pros, Delpit possesses the talent to be the successor of the LSU great.
Delpit arrived on the Bayou as LSU’s lesser-known safety recruit behind five-star JaCoby Stevens.
It didn’t take long, however, for him to make his mark.
As senior safety John Battle went down with an injury prior to the spring game, Delpit replaced him as the first-team starter and didn’t disappoint.
He finished with a purple team best four tackles, including one tackle for loss and one pass deflection, in a lightning-delayed game.
“Grant has proved tonight he can make plays,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron stated to The Advocate. “We treated it as a preseason game. I wanted to see what the guys did underneath the lights. He did a tremendous job. Again, got to watch the film, but he’s a guy we may start.”
Following Delpit’s impressive showing, Orgeron compared him to Jamal Adams.
“He’s physical. He’s very fluid. He moved well back there,” Orgeron expressed to SEC Country. “He’s a little bit like Jamal Adams to be honest with you. I don’t know if we’ll have another one back there, but he has that type of talent.”
Having lost three defensive back starters from the 2016 season, Delpit laid claim to the safety position for the Tigers with his terrific spring.
Delpit’s fine play continued into the fall, winning the starting free safety spot. He became one of three freshmen to start a season opener for LSU, the highest amount since 1986.
He was a mainstay in the Tigers secondary all season helping the suffocating defense rank as one of the nation’s best.
Delpit ended his freshman year with 60 tackles, three and a half of those for loss, one interception, and eight pass deflections in 13 games.
His best game was against Ole Miss where he had nine tackles, with one tackle for loss, one interception, and one pass deflection.
The impact Delpit had for LSU didn’t go unnoticed. He was named a Freshman All-American by ESPN, USA TODAY Sports, and 247Sports.
With the Tigers successful track record of producing top-flight defensive backs, Delpit hopes to follow in the footsteps of those before him.
His outstanding play as a freshman shows he has the potential of becoming the next standout member of LSU’s secondary.
As Delpit moves into his sophomore year, the well-rounded safety will only get better and raise his level of play.
“His aggressive playing style makes him one of the top defensive players in college football,” added Brandon Eisenman of Last Word on College Football.
LSU’s known for having great defenses. With Delpit’s performance and achievements this season, the Tigers have a building block for the foreseeable future.
Grant Delpit, nicknamed “Showtime,” will look to make 2018 his best year yet.