Since the turn of the century, LSU has been producing some of the best playmakers in the passing game.
First it was Dwayne Bowe, Michael Clayton and Brandon LaFell. Then came Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and D.J. Chark. Recently, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall have taken up the mantle.
With Jefferson and Chase recently becoming the best players at their position in the pros, the royal line of Baton Rouge receivers seems to be at its peak. Yet on the horizon is a receiver who has put up more yards in a single game than Jefferson, Chase or any LSU receiver, for that matter: Kayshon Boutte.
“It was the last game of the season, you kind of want to go out with a banger, you know,” Boutte said recently during an exclusive interview with PFF.
That banger was a 308-yard, conference-record-breaking performance against Ole Miss back in 2020. In that game, Boutte, who was a true freshman at the time, caught 14 passes and three touchdowns.
“Going into halftime, I'm like, I got two touchdowns, probably 100 or so yards,” Boutte said. “I wasn't really thinking about a record because I really didn't know the record. But I will say that I went in and I was like, I really got two touchdowns right now. I was trying to hold myself to a higher standard, you know.”
Kayson Boutte vs Ole Miss last season
The next great LSU WRpic.twitter.com/9Z64TyRSXH
— PFF College (@PFF_College) July 10, 2021
That was the performance that really put Boutte on the map. Despite being a highly touted recruit, Boutte wasn’t really supposed to play much during the 2020 season. However, after Chase opted out before the season and Marshall opted out during the season, Boutte found himself near the top of the depth chart.
“The kind of guys that I came into [LSU] looking up to, you know, they were coming off a national championship season,” Boutte said. “You watch a lot of different LSU guys players: Ja’Marr Chase, Jarvis Landry, Justin Jefferson; you kind of want to model your game after them. But you also want to be the best version of yourself.
“Just listening to what my coaches said, how they worked with me on my craft and everything. I always trust in myself that I could do it.”
That mentality allowed Boutte to hit the ground running when his number was called. Boutte finished the 2020 season with three straight 100-yard games. He then opened the following season with a nine-catch, 148-yard, three-touchdown performance against UCLA.
Unfortunately, an ankle injury held him back from really taking that full next step as a sophomore. Boutte was only able to suit up for six games in total, though he still recorded over 100 yards receiving in two of them.
If you add the final three games of the 2020 season to the six games Boutte played in 2021, no player in the SEC had more yards after the catch (493). In fact, no other receiver in all the FBS had more YAC in that time frame. Expand the stats even further: In those nine games, Boutte also led all the FBS in total receiving yards, yards after contact and receiving touchdowns.
2020 Weeks 14-16, 2021 Weeks 1-6
|Yards After Catch||493||1st|
|Yards After Contact||208||1st|
Boutte has been cleared after undergoing ankle surgery. How he gets back to form will be important, as speed is a major part of his game. As a former track athlete, Boutte reportedly ran a 4.37 40-yard dash in high school, was part of a state record-breaking 4×200 relay team and ran a blazing 21.29 200-meter dash.
Last year, Boutte recorded 509 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns. In 2020, he had 735 and five.
“I will say my performance, I feel like I can really do better in everything because there's no limit [to how much you can get better],” Boutte said. “There's always room for improvement and greatness. Personally, my goals for this season, I would say 1,200 receiving yards, 18 touchdowns and the Biletnikoff.”
There’s also a chance Boutte could have a new look as he suits up for what might be his final college football season. To this point, Boutte has worn the No. 1 on his jersey. At LSU, there’s another number that is even more special: No. 7. It’s a number made famous by players like Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Ja’Marr Chase and Derek Stingley Jr.
And not just anyone can wear it. It has to be earned.
The number currently sits unclaimed on the LSU roster, and Boutte could be the next to wear it.
“I would wear it,” Boutte said with a smile. “I really would.”
Whatever number he wears, defenses will have their eyes on Boutte — and the NFL will, too.