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Edwards-Helaire Leading LSU

By BJ Bennett
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Each step Clyde Edwards-Helaire takes, deliberate and forward, is the pulse of the purple-and-gold.

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is very likely going to win the Heisman Trophy. Wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase leads the nation in receiving. Safety Grant Delpit is poised to be a top ten NFL Draft pick. For all of the remarkable talent on the Tigers' roster, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire deserves a stage all his own. It’s a spotlight he has earned. Scoring four total touchdowns in LSU's famed win at Alabama, the junior quickly became a leading part of the national narrative; his role has long been the same for a team that may soon be the national champs.

The peak of the Tigers' production this season has largely mirrored that of Edwards-Helaire. LSU emerged as the nation's number one team during a remarkable mid-season stretch that included wins over Florida, Auburn and at Alabama. In those three games, Edwards-Helaire ran for 373 yards and six touchdowns, adding 16 combined catches against the Tigers and Crimson Tide alone. For good measure, Edwards-Helaire then set a new career-high with 172 rushing yards at Ole Miss, then, most recently, another career-high with 188 yards and three scores against Arkansas -- on eight carries.

Entering the final week of the regular season, still with three, or four, more games to play, Edwards-Helaire has 1,146 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns, all at 6.99 yards per carry. He also has 39 receptions. Notably, Edwards-Helaire leads the SEC in rushing scores and also ranks in the top 15 in the conference in catches, doing so, mind you, for a record-setting offense averaging 561.1 yards per game and a top-ranked, undefeated team. His impact, needless to say, has been incredible.   

There just aren't many parallels, even historically, to Edwards-Helaire's proficiency and production. This millennium, the only Power Five running backs with 15 rushing touchdowns, 6.9 yards per carry and 35 receptions in a single season are greats Reggie Bush from USC, Larry Johnson from Penn State and Edwards-Helaire. Should he maintain his YPC average and reach more than 45 catches, a very real possibility, Edwards-Helaire would be the first player in 20 years to meet those minimums.

Entering the final traditional week of the schedule, there are eleven players in college football averaging at least 130 yards from scrimmage per game, Edwards-Helaire included. Of that group, just two members are averaging over seven yards a play: Clemson’s Travis Etienne and Edwards-Helaire. In fact, the last SEC player to finish with 130 scrimmage yards per game and seven yards per play was now-NFL starter Nick Chubb in 2014.  

For immediate point of reference, Edwards-Helaire has more rushing yards than Georgia’s D’Andre Swift and more receptions than Florida’s Van Jefferson, two of the top playmakers, at running back and wide receiver, in the entire SEC. Simply put, and relatively-quietly somehow, Edwards-Helaire is having a season for the ages. Regardless of what happens over the next month-plus, this is already a year to remember.

Beyond just the national discussion, Edwards-Helaire is now part of his program’s proud legacy.   

What Edwards-Helaire means to LSU goes well beyond merely the numbers, even as rare as his are. There is a passion and pride to Edwards-Helaire, a determination that always seems to deliver. When the Tigers won in Tuscaloosa, he, literally and figuratively, willed them to victory. Relentless effort, from Edwards-Helaire, with his own motivational story, inspired his sidelines and his state. The persistence of Edwards-Helaire, not only the fact he makes plays but the way in which he does, has become a defining aspect of this LSU team. Yards gained are a measure of more than just production. 

Each step Edwards-Helaire takes, deliberate and forward, is the pulse of the purple-and-gold.

This is a storybook run for Edwards-Helaire, a Baton Rouge-native. His legacy started early at Catholic High School as Edwards-Helaire became the first freshman ever to play varsity football in head coach Dale Weiner's 29 years with the program. Edwards-Helaire would go on to be named the class 5A Championship Most Outstanding Player after pacing the Bruins to a 31-28 triumph with 249 total yards. With his hometown in the college football spotlight, Edwards-Helaire's career is suddenly coming full-circle.

Remarkably, Edwards-Helaire is only getting better and becoming more important down the home stretch. He leads all SEC running backs with 463 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, a number that also paces all of college football, in November. Edwards-Helaire, this month, is the only player in the country averaging over nine yards per carry with more than 40 attempts. Additionally, he is tied for third in the league in receptions in November with 20, the exact same total as LSU’s top wide receivers Chase and Justin Jefferson. 

There isn’t a player in college football quite like Edwards-Helaire, performance or personality. His energy has helped the Tigers run their gauntlet of a schedule; a dramatic sprint to the finish remains. For Edwards-Helaire, the big stage, performances against Florida to Alabama, has often been where he has been at his best. Along with Burrow and others, the role Edwards-Helaire has, clearly, is a starring one. As the Bayou Bengals chase a national title, he will be one of the forerunners out in front.     

Since the start of his career back in 2017, there has always been something special about Edwards-Helaire, the hometown star. Notably, LSU is 15-0 all-time when Edwards-Helaire scores a touchdown and 12-0 all-time when he rushes for more than 55 yards. All signs point to those trends continuing, with the Tigers giving Edwards-Helaire more touches and opportunities. The story of Edwards-Helaire is both worth reading and still being written alike.

One of the hottest players in the country, Edwards-Helaire is, quite spectacularly, in full stride. So, too, is LSU. This is a team with championship talent, championship leadership and championship heart, all of which are reflections of players like Edwards-Helaire. As the Tigers eye the SEC Championship Game, the College Football Playoff and beyond, Edwards-Helaire, from right where everything started, has watched LSU for years. He is now here to see it all through.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports