SEC Media Days: Tigers’ expectations remain high despite attrition

Rob Saye

HOOVER – LSU comes into 2014 with high expectations, despite the fact that numerous players were lost to the NFL Draft. Now, LSU is looking for a new quarterback and could have a new running back patrolling the SEC fields.

Out goes Zach Mettenberger from under center and now the starting job is up for grabs between early-enrollee Brandon Harris and Marietta-product Anthony Jennings.

Despite LSU losing Jeremy Hill to the NFL, the Tigers still have Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard to carry the football this season. That said, people are highly-anticipating the playing time for one of the nation’s top prospect’s Leonard Fournette. His arrival is already starting to win over some of his upperclassmen teammates like senior left tackle La’el Collins.

“My first impression of Leonard was this guy looks like he’s been here three years,” Collins said. “He looks the part, he comes in and works hard. He’s mature, focused, and you can tell that every dream that he has is on his mind each and every second he is in our facility. He’s working out, watching film and doing everything that he needs to do.”

A man that is battling for carries with Fournette is senior Terrence Magee. With that being so, he’s also a huge fan of Fournette’s workman-like approach that he’s already developing as a true freshman.

“There’s so much that I could say about him,” Magee said. “He comes in highly-decorated, but at the same time he’s very humble. He’s patient. He’s willing to learn from me and Kenny (Hilliard) as well as the other players on the team that have been there. It’s an honor to play in the backfield with a guy that comes in so highly decorated. I’m excited to see what he’s going to do and I think he’s going to be a heck of a player for us this year.”

The key for any young person in whatever they do, is to win over the respect of your older peers. From the sound of things on SEC Media Days, it seems like Fournette has done exactly that.

LSU is trying to decide on a new starting quarterback between Harris and Jennings. The players say the race for that job is really too close to call. That’s the way that Collins sees things.

“They both help each other out very well,” Collins said. “They both complement each other, they both push each other, and they’re both very competitive. I think that’s going to be the difference in our success this year. Because personally I feel that we’re going to need both of them to win.”

LSU head coach Les Miles has shown in the past years that he’s not above playing a two quarterback system. In recent years, we can remember the revolving door he had with Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson splitting snaps in 2011. We could see the case in 2014.

Young players have played and made impacts for LSU in the past. Running back Justin Vincent anyone? Remember his breakout year in the 2003 National Championship winning season? Current Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson is in the same boat. In fact, according to Miles he came up with a saying that is now hanging inside the LSU football facility. Terrence Magee let us in on this saying about underclassmen.

“We have a sign in our team room that says ‘young guys be prepared to play early and play big roles,’” Magee said.

Speaking of Miles, he made his normal star-of-the-show appearance at SEC Media Days.

In the Radio/Internet room that I camped out in for this year’s SEC Media Days, he came in and began with his love of the most recent World Cup.

“The summer was marked with FIFA,” Miles said. “My son is truly a soccer player, he played high school soccer and loved it. He was so motivated after watching some World Cup that he bounced out to a pick up soccer game for four hours. I rooted for the USA, certainly first and foremost. Then I rooted for Costa Rica. Colombia seemed to have a physical brand of ball that I really enjoyed.”

Miles then talked about Derek Jeter and his daughter’s softball World Series action. Plus he did talk some football.

“Quarterback will be Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris,” Miles said. “It will be a very competitive event from the start to the finish. Cam Cameron, a guy who’s made a career mentoring quarterbacks, is our offensive coordinator and will do the exactly right things with those guys.”

Miles also agrees with his senior leaders in Collins and Magee about Fournette’s path to his freshman season, citing that he likes his maturity and humility.

LSU fans and football fans will get to see this team take the field in the opening weekend of their season on Aug. 30 down in Houston against the Wisconsin Badgers.


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