Seven LSU football players, one of whom is currently on the coaching staff, two basketball players and four members of the baseball team earned their degree from LSU on Friday as the university held a virtual spring commencement ceremony.
The list of football players who earned their undergraduate degree on Friday include: wide receiver Colby Brunet (general business), offensive lineman Michael Smith (electrical engineering), offensive lineman Jakori Savage (sports administration), offensive lineman Donavaugh Campbell (interdisciplinary studies) and wide receiver Travin Dural (interdisciplinary studies).
Two former Tigers – All-America kicker Cole Tracy and defensive lineman Christian LaCouture – both graduated with a master’s degree in Liberal Arts. LaCouture is currently a member of the LSU coaching staff.
Brunet, Smith, Campbell and Savage were all part of LSU’s national championship season in 2019, while Dural returned to LSU after a stint in the NFL to earn his diploma as part of LSU’s “Project Graduation” program. Tracy was also a participant in the “Project Graduation” program and set numerous school records during his one season with the Tigers in 2018.
“I’m forever grateful to the academic center and the program,” Dural said of the Project Graduation program. “Being able to finish my degree from my dream school is something I’ll never forget. Being able to become a first-generation graduate is an amazing accomplishment and I have Project Graduation to thank! So, thank you guys for never giving up on me and my dreams.”
Dural spent four seasons with the Tigers from 2013-2016 and he finished his career at LSU with 100 receptions for 1,716 yards and 13 touchdowns. His 94-yard TD reception that helped beat Arkansas in 2014 remains as the longest passing play in school history.
In Tracy’s one season at LSU in 2018, he earned second team All-America honors and was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award as the top kicker in college football. Tracy, who was a graduate transfer from Assumption College, set or tied seven LSU records in 2018, including field goals in a season (29), field goals in a game (5 vs. Georgia) and longest field (54 vs. Miami).
“I am so excited to be part of the LSU family,” Tracy said. “My time on campus might have been short but now with my degree, I will officially be a Tiger for life! I am thankful for the support that I received, from my professors to the academic team. I was able to successfully continue my degree because of them.”
Two members of the LSU Basketball team which finished first and second in back-to-back SEC seasons in 2019 and 2020, Skylar Mays and Marshall Graves, officially graduated from LSU on Friday in the virtual ceremony in which degrees were conferred
Mays and Graves were both four-year lettermen at LSU. Mays, a Baton Rouge native, and Graves, of Ponchatoula, played together for the majority of their high school career at University High on the LSU campus. Mays played his senior season of high school at Finley Prep in Las Vegas.
Mays graduated in pre-med/kinesiology, while Graves received his degree in general business.
Mays was named the CoSIDA Basketball Academic All-America of the Year in 2020 and was the two-time SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the sport. He was a first team All-SEC selection after averaging 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals in 2020.
Mays finished in the top 10 after four years in nine LSU career categories. He is the fourth player in the Southeastern Conference since 1992-93 to finish his career with at least 1,600 points-400 rebounds-300 assists and 200 steals. He is the only player in the SEC since 1992-93 to average in a season 17.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and shoot 40 percent from three-point range in conference play.
Graves walked on to the LSU team prior to the 2016-17 season and played in 57 games in his LSU career, starting his first game on senior day against Georgia. Graves had his career high of 12 in the final game of the SEC championship campaign against Vanderbilt in March 2019.
Graves was put on scholarship for the last year-and-a-half of his career at LSU as Coach Will Wade gave Graves the scholarship of his high school and college teammate, the late Wayde Sims.
The Tigers were 16-2 in the SEC to win the 2019 championship and advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 and won 12 SEC games in 2020 to tie for second when the season was halted after the first night of the SEC Tournament.
Earning their degrees on Friday from the baseball team were pitchers Matthew Beck, Eric Walker and Aaron George, and undergraduate assistant coach Hunter Kiel.
“We are so proud of these young men for reaching a life-changing goal,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “Earning an LSU degree while competing as an NCAA student-athlete is extremely difficult, and these players demonstrated the discipline necessary to stand today as college graduates.”
Beck, a product of Alexandria, La., has earned a finance degree. A four-year letterman, he has a 9-1 career record with a 2.66 ERA in 115 innings. He did not allow an earned run in 12 innings of work during the shortened 2020 season.
Beck is a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, and he received in February the Shriners Hospitals for Children Service Award for his philanthropic activities.
Walker, a product of Arlington, Texas, has earned a finance degree. He helped lead LSU to the 2017 SEC title and the runners-up position at the College World Series a member of the weekend starting rotation. Walker posted an 8-2 mark in 17 starts, recording 78 strikeouts in 95.2 innings.
He is a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, and he was named a Freshman All-American and the Louisiana Freshman of the Year in 2017.
George, who joined the LSU program prior to the 2019 season, has earned a degree in sport administration. A product of Monroe, La., he has a 3-1 career mark in 28 relief appearances with 42 strikeouts in 33.1 innings.
George recorded 11 strikeouts in seven relief innings during the 2020 season as one of the mainstays of the LSU bullpen.
Kiel, a relief pitcher at LSU in 2017, returned to school last fall after a pro career in the Chicago White Sox organization. The native of Florence, Ala., earned a sport administration degree while serving as the Tigers’ undergraduate assistant coach in 2020.
Mainieri’s commitment to academic achievement has been illustrated by the Tigers’ performance in the classroom, as 98 LSU baseball players have earned their degrees during his coaching tenure. Twenty-five of the graduates were players who signed professional contracts before completing their college eligibility and returned to LSU to finish their degree requirements.
Mainieri has coached 133 players who have completed their collegiate eligibility at LSU, and 132 of those players have earned a degree and/or played professional baseball. In addition, LSU players have received SEC Academic Honor Roll recognition on 130 occasions over the past 13 seasons.