A&T Stadium – September 2nd, 2018 –  A familiar site for Texas native K’Lavon Chaisson as he takes his first step into the national limelight. A 4-star recruit out of North Shore, the sophomore is ready to make a name for himself – and prove his NFL Draft value in the process.

Of course, around LSU campus, Chaisson’s name is already well established. “The guy’s a freak. He’s simply a freak,” gushed tight end Foster Moreau during off-season camp. “He might even break the sack record. I mean he easily could.”

Star linebacker Devin White (selected 5th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft) doubled down on the praise. “I expect everything from him. The sky’s the limit.”

Despite the admiration from his peers, however, Chaisson knew he hadn’t earned anything yet. Sure, he had a successful true freshman campaign. 27 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks weren’t a joke, especially on limited snaps. But both he and the organization knew he had more to give. His time for a breakout was now – and Chaisson was ready to seize the opportunity. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.

Suffering a torn ACL in his first action of the 2018 season, Chaisson’s record-breaking year was over before it had even begun. That familiar Texas turf had gotten to him. But Chaisson wouldn’t let a fluke knee injury be the end of his story. It was just the beginning.

“I’ll forever be in good spirits,” Chaisson tweeted on September 6th, just 4 days after the devastating injury. “God is too good for me to be feeling sorry for myself. God knows what he is doing. Smiles will forever be on my face as long as I’m living. Plus, now I get a handicap sticker!”

Chaisson decided to look at things positively, both a smart and tough choice to make. Working with renowned hand usage coach Brandon Jordan for three years now, Chaisson used that time off and productive mindset to get more coaching from Jordan – really honing in on his technique as a result.

Jordan, who moved to Houston and now trains players like Denver Broncos defensive end Bradley Chubb and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, has been crucial to the success of other professional defensive linemen – and Chaisson looks like no exception. “Playing d-line is like boxing,” Jordan explained. “Keep your hands up and protect that chest, because that’s what the o-linemen have. You gotta get their hands away before they get to your chest.”

Strong coaching has been a theme throughout Chaisson’s short journey, as his high school has also been a breeding ground for top NFL Draft prospects. North Shore has produced the likes of Emeke Egbule, Dorance Armstrong, Cory Redding, and Earl Mitchell all over the past decade – with Chaisson seemingly the next in line to join that list. Of course, the LSU Tiger isn’t just relying on others to carry the load for him. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“No matter who you talk to and where they saw North Shore, if they saw them play in person or on tape, the first thing they mention is K’Lavon. He’s a guy who just flashes. He’s got big-time tape and is a productive player against both the run and pass,” Kevin Huber – director of football for Student Sports – claimed back in 2016. And he’s right. Chaisson’s high school tape is littered with insane speed and burst. His early LSU film is filled with versatility and the natural ability to turn the corner. Even his only sophomore game showed elite effort and quality backside pursuit. Make no mistake, Chaisson is both a fantastic athlete and prospect, and he’s ready to show his full NFL Draft value now that he’s healthy.

With his unrelenting drive and underappreciated intelligence (3.3 GPA), Chaisson’s officially climbed over the injury hump entering the 2019 campaign. He has his explosion and quickness back (ran a 4.63 40 yard-dash out of high school), and his patented high effort is still packaged along with it. By all accounts, he’s dominated spring camp – and LSU seems to agree. They recently awarded Chaisson the prestigious honor of their coveted No. 18 jersey, a big deal amongst those in the program.

Richard Dickson, a former LSU tight end who wore No. 18, had this to say about the jersey. “People think it’s always a player who was injured, but not necessarily. It’s a guy who comes to work every day and who is really a team player. Injuries may have pulled out their character in some cases. You see a guy’s strength when they come back from an injury.”

As for Chaisson – just like before last season – he isn’t letting the buzz get to him. “It’s special. The No. 18 is a very special number but at the same time, it’s just me. I didn’t do anything to become No. 18, I didn’t do any special things to get this number, I was just being myself. I’m glad that it was recognized but at the same time, whether I have the number or not, I gotta do what needs to be done on and off the field. That’s just how I was raised.”

It’s been roughly a year since that fateful evening down in Arlington. A night with such high hopes that ended so devastatingly. Through his resilience and positive attitude, however, K’Lavon Chaisson may just be better for it. He’s back and ready to take college football by storm. SEC offensive lineman, you’ve been warned.