By RYNE BERTHELOT, Journal Sports
BATON ROUGE — Micah Baskerville won’t go down among LSU’s greatest linebackers of all time.
He’s not the most decorated athlete currently in the program. A chance at the pros is less certain than for some of his counterparts.
But the Shreveport native, an Evangel Christian product, is the type of football player that every team needs: Experienced, ego-free, and uniquely suited to adapt to his surroundings.
Last season, Baskerville was second on the team in tackles with 83. He had two sacks against Arkansas. He started all 12 games, which put him at 20 starts for his career. This year, under new head coach Brian Kelly, Baskerville’s seen a reduction in playing time.
“It’s been a challenging experience,” Baskerville said. “I’ve been through a lot here. I just use that as motivation. We have a great support system, and when it comes down to the end, I just want to do my part for the team, really.”
It’s Baskerville’s consistency – not only on the field but off it as well – that’s made the fifth-year senior such a key piece to the puzzle of Kelly’s first year. Baskerville learned under some of the best LSU had to offer. Now it’s his turn to pass it all down.
“I just give them the knowledge I’ve gotten over the years from [Devin] White, Patrick Queen, whoever,” Baskerville said. “They taught me, so I teach them. We just keep going down the line.”
He carries a unique skill set, too: In a world that values the edge-rushing linebacker, Baskerville plies his trade in the passing game, working sometimes in a hybrid role between linebacker and safety. He came on strong with four passes defended and an interception last year in a full-time role. He continued it this year with the first pick-six of his career, a 29-yarder last Saturday in the first quarter against Southern.
That, along with a blocked punt on a special teams unit that entered the game under an intense spotlight, was enough to earn the game ball afterwards.
The role Baskerville played on defense hasn’t been lost on Kelly, either.
“We felt that Micah’s production, what he does on special teams, what he does on third down, he’s outstanding in pass coverage, that he really adds a dimension to our defense,” Kelly said. “That’s really important. And so the selflessness that he has displayed, we wanted to reward that with the game ball.”
There was a chance for Baskerville to call it quits after last season, especially with the resignation of Ed Orgeron. Several of his teammates left the program, and a new crop entered via the transfer portal. He’s been with the Tigers through the shining jewel of the 2019 season. He also went through the throes of the two years after, where positive narratives and wins were tough to come by.
He’s been a microcosm of that whirlwind the program has been through: He made it to the top, only to have to work his way back up again.
But, there’s one more reason Baskerville returned.
“I wanted to graduate,” Baskerville said. “I met with Coach Kelly, and he was big on graduating. That’s something my family really wanted me to do, and I want to do it for myself. So that was a big reason.”
The NFL could still be in Baskerville’s future. There could also be a step away from football, onto another chapter of life.
He hasn’t really thought about it much.
“I don’t know yet,” Baskerville said. “I’m more taking it one day at a time. That’s just how I am.”
Contact Ryne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by PETER FOREST, Journal Sports