Hours away from the 2020 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys seem to have narrowed down their list of legit candidates with the 17th overall pick. Ranging from offense to defense, we’ve seen plenty of names linked to the Cowboys. A few have stood out most, including LSU EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson. With Dallas needing an edge rusher to replace Robert Quinn, the former four-star recruit makes a lot of sense.
Chaisson’s explosiveness off the edge makes him an effective pass rusher as well as a run defender. His production concerns some around the NFL, with only 9.5 sacks in his two-year collegiate career (6.5 came in his final season). However, at only 20-years old, K’Lavon is set to be developed in the league.
Despite starting out with the No. 4 on his jersey, Chaisson switched to #18 in 2019. In every other NCAA team, that would carry no meaning. But in LSU tradition, it’s an honor to wear number 18.
You see, in 2003 Quarterback Matt Mauck led LSU to a National Championship. With a 21-14 win over the Oklahoma Sooners in the ’04 Sugar Bowl, the Tigers had their first national title since 1958. That season, Mauck had re-written the record books in Baton Rouge with a 28 touchdown season, the most ever by an LSU quarterback.
But here’s the thing about Mauck. In 2002, the quarterback’s season ended shortly after a foot injury. On his way back, his incredible work ethic and attitude to come back stronger were impressive to everyone in the team.
He did it all while wearing #18.
Before heading to the NFL Draft, where he’d play only in two games, Mauck handed the number to Running Back Jacob Hester. What did Hester do with it? You guessed it, led the Tigers to another National Championship in 2007 with a remarkable season. In 225 carries, Hester rushed for 1,103 yards and two touchdowns while sharing the backfield with a great group of running backs.
Number 18 has since become an important tradition for the LSU Tigers. It’s a symbol of success, on and off the field. Not only that, but also about being a teammate and “doing all the right things.”
Many players have worn it proudly, including one other player up for grabs in this year’s NFL Draft. Offensive Center Lloyd Cushenberry wore a #18 patch because as an offensive lineman, he couldn’t use it on his back. In 2018, Tight End Foster Moreau used it. In 2016, Cornerback Tre’Davious White was #18.
When looking at NFL prospects, evaluations should go beyond mere athletic skills and measurables. For K’Lavon Chaisson, wearing #18 will mean something for front offices when the 2020 NFL Draft kicks off in just a few hours.