BATON ROUGE - LSU football coach Ed Orgeron can relate to freshman defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin.
Orgeron played the same position in high school South Lafourche and in college at Northwestern State. Both are from South Louisiana, and both know good Cajun food when they see it and eat it.
Orgeron is a big man, but he never flirted or touched 400 pounds as has Shelvin, who was listed at 6-foot-3 and 380 when he signed with the Tigers in February of 2017 as the No. 3 defensive tackle in the nation, according to Rivals.com, and the No. 34 prospect in the nation overall out of Notre Dame of Crowley. The No. 1 prospect in Louisiana in 2017, Shelvin played his first three seasons of high school ball at Northside High in Lafayette.
Shelvin was first identified by Orgeron in 2016, and LSU was the first school to offer him a scholarship. Not long after Shelvin signed at LSU, Orgeron started giving diet tips to Shelvin's grandmother, like gumbo, but with no rice.
"Coach, you're killing me," Shelvin told Orgeron. "I need more rice."
He did not use the word "need" correctly. Shelvin lost some weight, but the battle continues.
"He's a slim 358 now," Orgeron said sarcastically last week. "I can't call Tyler Shelvin slim. I don't think I ever well."
Orgeron also usually cannot mention Shelvin with the word "weight" being mentioned.
"He shows flashes of being a great player," he said early last week. "If we can get him down to 335, he'll be an excellent player."
In a scrimmage dominated by the defense on Saturday, Shelvin tied for the team lead in tackles with six and had two behind the line.
"Obviously, his weight needs to get down, but we see the things that we all thought that he could become," Orgeron said. "He's starting to come. He's not there yet, but he's showing flashes."
Shelvin, along with sophomore Glen Logan, is taking advantage of the absence of projected starting nose tackle Ed Alexander, a junior who has been nursing an injury during the spring after starting one game and playing in nine last season amid various injuries and disciplinary absences.
"Ed Alexander is probably going to be our starting nose tackle," Orgeron said. "Tyler may earn his way into a starting position. We can spot play him. Obviously, he's going to start on goal line and short yardage situations. I don't know if he's ready yet to start, but we still have a lot of ball left."
TIGER NOTES: Orgeron said he enjoyed LSU's recent spring break from classes and football. "Spring break as a coach, you don't want your phone to ring," he said in reference to calls from police or school officials about an arrest. "And my phone didn't ring." ... Orgeron continues to look for a graduate transfer for immediate help at cornerback after some major misses on national signing day last February. "We're hot and heavy on one," he said. He is also considering a graduate transfer quarterback. ... Among the former Tigers now in the NFL at LSU's Pro Day last week were tailback Leonard Fournette of Jacksonville and guard-center Ethan Pocic of Seattle.