NCF Nation: Rahim Alem
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Rahim Alem thinks he's finally found his niche on the LSU football team.
He's not the guy who used to be known as Al Jones, Jr. only to change his name to reflect his African roots.
|Greg McWilliams/US Presswire|
|LSU's Rahim Alem is out to prove he can do more than rush the passer.|
He's not the older brother of safety Chad Jones, one of the most sought after prospects in the country when he signed with the Tigers.
He's not a role player, and he's definitely not just a pass-rusher.
Don't even think about referring to him as such.
"It's like everybody wants to box me in as a guy who just rushes the passer," said Alem, who was third in the SEC last season with eight sacks. "I'm the starting right end."
The 6-foot-3, 254-pound senior was the Tigers' best pass-rusher a year ago. For that matter, he was one of the best pass-rushers in the SEC. But because of LSU's depth and bulk on the defensive line, Alem only started one game.
In a lot of ways, he was pigeonholed as the Tigers' designated pass-rusher and was used as part of their "Express" package on passing downs.
But there's much more to his game than just getting after the quarterback, and he's determined to show his full repertoire next season.
"When you're on a team where everybody else is 270-plus and then they see me, they say, 'Oh, he must be the pass-rusher,'" said Alem, clearly miffed by that label. "I'm good at it, but I'm an end. They didn't recruit me to pass-rush. I'm not on half scholarship. I'm on full scholarship. I can do what any defensive end does."
He points to the Alabama game last season as proof. That was his only start, and he went against All-American offensive tackle Andre Smith all game.
"They had the best running game in the SEC behind Florida. Alabama was a downhill running team," Alem said. "The coaches started me because they knew I could play against that kind of team. I played against Andre Smith for four quarters and overtime, so I've played against the best and held up."
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Few teams in the country have been able to boast the kind of defensive line talent LSU has put on the field in recent years.
|Crystal LoGiudice/US Presswire|
|LSU has high expectations for Chancey Aghayere.|
But this spring, there are more than a few question marks for the Tigers up front defensively. Gone are four seniors, including All-SEC defensive end Tyson Jackson, and junior tackle Ricky Jean-Francois, who left early for the NFL draft.
That doesn't mean the talent well has run dry. It's just that some new faces will get a shot up front, and that starts this spring.
In particular, first-year defensive coordinator John Chavis is anxious to get a look at the four defensive linemen the Tigers redshirted last season. One of those, Chancey Aghayere, was rated by Scouts Inc. as the No. 3 defensive end prospect in the country when he came out of Garland, Texas, last year.
The other three defensive linemen the Tigers redshirted last season were ends LaVar Edwards and Chase Clement and tackle Cordian Hagans.
"There are some young guys who haven't played yet, but they're very talented," Chavis said. "It's up to us to develop that talent."
This will also be a big spring for senior tackle Al Woods and junior tackle Drake Nevis. They need to prove that they can be consistent performers at this level. The Tigers got good news during the offseason when tackle Charles Alexander was granted a sixth year of eligibility, and they also return senior Rahim Alem at end. Alem was third in the SEC last season with eight sacks.