Monday, August 4, 2014
LSU notes: Jennings starts with varsity
By David Ching
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Anthony Jennings got the first chance to work with LSU's starting offense when the Tigers opened preseason practice on Monday.
Now he must somehow retain that honor once the full team begins practicing together later this week -- and that won't be easy with freshman quarterback Brandon Harris breathing down his neck.
"Anthony threw the ball real well. He knew the offense like the back of his hand," wide receiver Travin Dural said after working with Jennings and the first-team offense in Monday morning's practice. "I'm not sure how Brandon's going to do, but I have a lot of confidence that he's going to do real well in the afternoon. And then when we come together, it's going to be pretty good. They're going to show that ability and one of them's going to emerge as the starter."
LSU's team split into two groups on Monday, as it will for each of the first four days of practice, with one group composed largely of starters and a handful of freshmen working out in the morning, while a collection of mostly reserves and the remaining freshmen practices in the afternoon.
LSU coach Les Miles said on Sunday that LSU's two quarterback contenders, sophomore Jennings and early enrollee Harris, will practice with both groups in the first four days before the Friday's first full-squad practice.
Neither quarterback was available to speak to media members on Monday.
Harris practiced with the afternoon group on Monday -- as did several other blue-chip signees in the nation's No. 2 recruiting class like tailback Leonard Fournette and receiver Trey Quinn. Among the freshmen who practiced with the varsity group in the morning were safety Jamal Adams, linebacker Clifton Garrett and receiver Malachi Dupre.
"Once they come in and they do 7-on-7 [in summer workouts], they kind of get a feel for things, but this is really what's going to tell the tale," running back Terrence Magee said. "We're just as intrigued at seeing them play as the coaches are, and to get out there and teach them and help them because we had guys before us that were the same way, ready to see us play and bring [us] along. For me, when I leave, I want to be able to look back at some of those young guys and say, ‘I helped him get to where he's at.' "
New No. 18: With that attitude in mind, perhaps it should come as no surprise that Magee was wearing a new jersey number, 18, when he practiced with the varsity on Monday morning.
LSU made it official on Sunday night that the senior running back would be the next recipient of the coveted number, following a vote to determine the most deserving player. The Tigers have a tradition each year in which they select a leader who best represents the team on and off the field to wear No. 18, and this year, it will be Magee.
"The No. 18 really isn't significant of all the leaders that we have on this team, from every senior that we have on the team, from La'el Collins to Jermauria Rasco to even some of the younger guys like Kwon Alexander," Magee said. "They wear their number and they're still leaders on this team. It's not going to change my mindset or how I do."
Magee breaks a streak of three straight seasons where a defensive player had worn No. 18. Linebacker Lamin Barrow wore it last season, following defensive tackle Bennie Logan and safety Brandon Taylor in previous years.
"They really showed me what it means to wear the No. 18," Magee said. "They represented it well and laid the foundation for me to continue the tradition. It's a tremendous honor and I'm very excited that the coaches thought enough of me to pick me."
Fournette's debut: Believe it or not, Fournette didn't take his first handoff at LSU 99 yards for a touchdown -- although maybe it's just because that first handoff came in a simple position drill.
Seriously, though, the heavily-hyped tailback -- as well as the other members of the touted recruiting class -- had even the veterans curious about how they'd look in practice.
"I might go out there and peek when they practice this afternoon ... just see what I'm going to be going up against in a couple days," linebacker D.J. Welter said with a grin.
Thompson, Rasco back; Mills practices: Safety Corey Thompson and defensive end Jermauria Rasco both practiced Monday with the starting defense after missing spring practice while recovering from offseason surgeries.
Thompson wore a brace on his surgically-repaired left knee, but seems to have recovered most of his mobility.
"He looks good. He's doing better," safety Ronald Martin said. "Hopefully he gets back up to 100 percent sometime during camp, but today he looked great out there."
A surprise from the afternoon workout was safety Jalen Mills' presence on the practice field. Mills has been indefinitely suspended since June following an incident where he allegedly punched a woman. East Baton Rouge district attorney Hillar Moore informed the Baton Rouge Advocate early Monday that he plans to charge Mills with misdemeanor simple battery, which is punishable with up to six months in prison or up to a $1,000 fine.
An LSU spokesman said Miles will address the junior safety's status with the team when he meets with reporters Monday evening. Running back Jeremy Hill sat out the first five quarters of the 2013 season after pleading guilty to a simple battery charge prior to the season.
"We've just got to keep getting better, keep helping each other get better as a whole, keep trying to [be] cohesive and get better as a unit like we are," Martin said. "And once [Mills] comes back, if he comes back, I hope he does come back, he just steps back into what we were doing this spring and just continue to grind."