After news broke around midday of offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe’s bout with Parkinson’s disease, the LSU football team carried on with business as usual on Thursday afternoon – Kragthorpe included.
The first-year assistant, who stepped down from his role as offensive coordinator and will serve as the team’s quarterback coach in the interim, worked with the quarterbacks of the future as the freshmen and selected varsity players took to the indoor facility for their first practice of the fall.
TigerSportsDigest.com was on hand and has the latest quick hitters:
· - Kragthorpe’s quarterbacks group consisted of Zach Mettenberger and a slew of freshmen, including Stephen Rivers, Jerrard Randall, and preferred walk-on Jared Foster. Mettenberger got the majority of Kragthorpe’s focus, and the junior college transfer flashed the same strong arm that he showed off when arriving to campus last spring. Mettenberger, who is listed at 6-foot-5, 250-pounds, has also shed weight over the summer. Speaking of, Rivers will need to pack on some pounds before he’s ready for action down the road. He’s got the height at 6-foot-7, but he’s still floating around the 200-pound range. Randall, who is also on the lighter side at 185-pounds, showed off a very strong arm. The reviews coming out of 7-on-7 workouts this summer were that his passes came out quicker than any other quarterback on the team, and on Thursday afternoon he proved just that. When Jefferson and Lee part ways with the program, the immediate combination of Mettenberger and Randall should be exciting.
· - The running back group was light on bodies, but newcomer Terrance Magee gave onlookers a show with his quick feet and great hands. His change of direction always stood out when running the ball from his quarterback spot at Franklinton High, and Magee – who has added a lot of muscle – looks like he hasn’t lost a step. Expect Miles to work him into the mix this fall, whether as a running back or a wildcat quarterback. While there is depth at running back, it won’t be long before Magee breaks through. Kenny Hilliard, who sat out the majority of spring ball due to academics, was dressed out and worked behind Magee. Jakhari Gore was the next man through, and in typical Gore style, the redshirt freshman speedster flashed some quick cuts and a great burst. While Miles said most of his work would come out of the backfield, don’t count the 5-foot-9, 175-pounder out of the race for return duties on special teams.
· - There were a few veteran bodies taking reps with the wide receivers and tight ends. Chase Clement, the second man out at tight end behind DeAngelo Peterson, led a group that included Tyler Edwards, Travis Dickson, and Alex Russian. The wide receivers were Armand Williams and Paul Turner. Jarvis Landry stood on the sidelines with a protective boot on his foot, a stress fracture that is supposed to keep him sidelined two to three weeks.
· - The first and second team offensive line worked out in the morning, meaning it was mainly freshmen that took the field this afternoon. La’el Collins, wearing No. 78, looked great. He’s got the size at 6-foot-4, and I don’t know if I have seen a freshman football player carry 315 pounds as well as Collins. Other linemen on hand were Elliot Porter, Jonah Austin, Trai Turner, and Corey White.
· - The defensive line was also made up of younger bodies. The sole veterans were defensive end Chancey Aghayere and walk-on defensive tackle Dennis Johnson. Ends Jordan Allen and Justin Maclin and tackle Ego Ferguson were the second-year players in the bunch, while Jermauria Rasco and Quentin Thomas made up the freshmen crop. Remember, freshman tackle Anthony Johnson, who hopes to crack into the starting lineup, worked with the veterans in the morning practice.
· - John Chavis’ linebacker corps had one impressive looking newcomer: 2011 signee Trevon Randle. Randle has evidently packed on some pounds since showing up to campus weighing 205 pounds, and he showed off some great speed when closing in on the ball carrier in drills. Even though Stefoin Francois and Karnell Hatcher are veterans at the strongside linebacker position, don’t count out Randle making a push to the field. Luke Muncie and D.J. Welter also showed flashes of improvement, a pair of second-year linebackers that Chavis praised after the conclusion of spring ball. While the starting group of Ryan Baker, Kevin Minter, and Francois/Hatcher is likely set, don’t count out the aforementioned – plus Lamin Barrow – as candidates for playing time.
· - The defensive backfield at LSU hasn’t been short on talent in recent years, and the new crop of freshmen don’t disappoint. It’s evident that strength and conditioning coordinator Tommy Moffitt has put in a lot of work with the group this summer, because Jalen Collins, Ronald Martin, and David Jenkins are almost unrecognizable given their weights coming out of high school. All three have packed on serious pounds and muscle, especially Martin. I would lump Acadiana High star Micah Eugene into that group, but he showed up looking the part. While his height (5-11) might be a downside, his high school playing days prove that he can pack a punch – and on Thursday afternoon it was evident that Eugene wasn’t pleased that the team’s first practice was without contact. When the pads go on, watch out.