WR Darius Lassiter Hits Transfer Portal
Big loss for EMU's receiving room. Lassiter made an instant impact for EMU's offense in 2022 and is the second starter to leave the team via transfer.
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After a breakout season in his one year at Eastern Michigan, wide receiver Darius Lassiter has hit the transfer portal.
Lassiter tweeted his decision Monday:
Thank you Eastern Michigan for believing in a Juco kid when you didn't have to, my time here has been nothing but a blessing and gained a lifetime of friendships, but with that being I will be entering the transfer portal with 2 years of eligibility left, excited for the future!
Lassiter, who came to EMU after two years at Butler C.C., played in all 13 games last year (four starts) and caught 40 passes for 471 yards, and scored 4 touchdowns. He quickly rose up EMU’s depth charts through his summer practices, then proved to be a reliable option for EMU’s offense.
His best moment as an Eagle? In the Potato Bowl, down 13-9, Lassiter made three huge plays for EMU to drive 96 yards downfield to take the lead from San Jose State: a 45-yard reception, a 20-yarder, then a 1-yard touchdown to cap.
Lassiter’s second TD reception of the bowl game was from 28 yards out, and that was the score that stamped a 30-0 scoring run by EMU. He finished the game as the night’s leading receiver with six catches for 108 yards, and two TD.
At Western Michigan, Lassiter had a six-catch, 104-yard game, and his 38-yard touchdown catch and run helped propel EMU to a 45-23 win. His first-career TD at the FBS level came one week before when EMU was down 13-0 at home to UMass in the third quarter, and Lassiter pulled through on an 8-yard snag.
The 6’3”, 200 lbs. receiver, and son of a former NFL defensive back (Kwamie Lassiter), came back to Eastern and practiced all through the spring, and came out holding his own as a starting receiver. It looked like his playing time, if anything, would’ve only gone up this year, but he instead will try to do what worked out for him last time, which is: join a team in time for the summer and try to win a starting position in camp.
Lassiter is the fourth wide receiver to leave EMU via transfer this offseason. He’s also the second offensive starter to leave the team via transfer portal this year after LT Marcellus Johnson left for Missouri as a graduate transfer.
He has two years of eligibility to offer.
For EMU, there’s clearly another starting position that’s up for grabs. Tanner Knue, the team’s leading receiver last year, is by far the most experienced returning receiver in the room, but after him, we might be looking at an all-hands-on-deck situation at wide receiver. That’s not solely because of Lassiter’s departure. Remember, the team is going through an offseason where it has to replace a pair of multi-year starters in Hassan Beydoun and Dylan Drummond.
Beydoun’s 2021 season set an EMU record for receptions made (97) and was EMU’s first 1,000-yard receiver (1,015) since 2004, then he led the 2022 team with 49 receptions made. Over his career, Beydoun made 216 catches for 2,345 yards and scored 9 times in his 49-game career. Drummond was an All-MAC receiver in 2019 when he caught 55 passes for 493 yards with 3 TD as a sophomore, and finished his career with 183 catches made for 2,028 yards with 14 TD over 52 games.
So, which WRs will EMU look to for help?
Tanner Knue — He’s made great catches since he walked on in 2018 (and earned a scholarship in 2020), but he’s got to keep things steady at his position for just one last fall.
Javon Swinton — The spring game is the one and only time I got to see this team practice this spring. But if I drew up a lineup today, I think the Indiana transfer would be the best, singular, replacement to fill in for Lassiter’s departure.
Terry Lockett Jr. — At 6’0”, I don’t think the Michigan State transfer will have the size advantage Lassiter had.
Hamze El-Zayat — The Fordham graduate transfer sat out all last year but has been active this spring. Out goes Beydoun, a slot receiver who grew up in Dearborn, Mich., and El-Zayat, also from Dearborn and also a slot receiver, might be a strong option.
J.B. Mitchell III — A 2021 signee who has been biding his time with the team might finally get some playing time this year. He’s listed at 6’2, 202 lbs., and coach Chris Creighton and teammate Knue both mentioned that Mitchell made progress this spring.
Incoming freshmen Makhail Wood & Joseph Walker Jr. — Without much experience log-jamming starting spots at the top, I’m sure the coaching staff is very open-minded to the idea that they might have a true freshman or two get some playing time this year. That is if they win their playing time through summer camp and keep standing out in practices throughout the year.
Tight ends — Size is a big thing, and none of the possible WR replacements, outside of incoming freshman Walker (6’4”) match up height-wise to Lassiter. Tight ends, though, naturally have more height on this team, and EMU’s a team that already loves running its offense out of two-tight end sets and is trying to develop big, natural pass catchers at this position. Andreas Paaske’s made plays last year in the pass game, but who’s next to break through at this spot? Max Reese? Blake Daniels?