ORLANDO, Fla. — The LSU wide receiver capped off a stellar true sophomore campaign, with his best performance of the season in the blowout victory over Purdue.
Malik Nabers used his speed and athleticism to stretch the field on the Boilermakers. He ran circles around the Boilermakers’ secondary all afternoon. The Louisiana native proved his productive outing in the SEC Championship Game was no fluke. After all, Nabers led the Bayou Bengals in receptions and receiving yards this season.
He hauled in nine passes for 163 yards and a touchdown against Purdue (8-6). The former four-star prospect had arguably the best highlight of the game too. Nabers caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Garrett Nussmeier towards the end of the third quarter. Although he wasn’t happy about a couple of drop balls early on, Nabers was still named MVP of the Citrus Bowl for his heroics.
“This performance, it shows that, I’m able to come out here and perform at a high level with anybody in the conference,” Nabers said. “So it’s something I can on to build on next year, keep my confidence up.”
The cherry on top for the six-foot, 195-pounder was capping off the season with 1,017 receiving yards. The Bayou Bengals have had a long list of star-studded receivers in recent years. Odell Beckham Jr., Justin Jefferson and Jamar Chase proves LSU (10-4) simply reloads instead of rebuilds at the receiver position. And there’s no denying Nabers is the latest version.
Coach Brian Kelly has been in awe of Nabers’ growth as a receiver. Kelly believes Nabers is just scratching the surface to his full potential too.
“I think he’s maturing,” Kelly said. “I think we have gone through understanding how to be in the right zone emotionally to his preparation in practice, where he’s preparing harder than anybody else, to flipping the switch to performance.”
Nabers eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards in each of the the final two games, and has built a lot of confidence. Now he’ll have a ton of momentum for 2023. Nabers will likely be the No. 1 target again in the Bayou Bengals’ aerial attack. There’s no denying he’s a matchup nightmare out in space. It’s unfortunate that Nabers didn’t receive no All-SEC consideration in 2022.
Still, being humbled by national publications gave him more than enough motivation for the Citrus Bowl. Which is why Nabers thought it was his destiny to have an amazing game.
“I digged and focused on what I had to do for the team and I came out very successful, and I appreciate my coaches,” the 19-year old said.
Nabers won’t be sneaking up on anyone next fall though. With his experience, production and leadership, he’ll be the focal point for the opposition as far as game planning. And his numbers should improve because Kayshon Boutte left early for the NFL. Not to mention Nabers will have Jayden Daniels throwing him balls again, which should help his chances on the gridiron.
So expect Nabers to take the SEC by storm in 2023 and earn the recognition he deserves.