Miles speaks after Sunday practice

LSU coach announces that neither Fanaika nor Johnson will be part of the team this fall.

The fourth day of pre-season work brought the entire team together, and that brought a smile to LSU coach Les Miles' face.

But the news wasn't all good Sunday when Miles addressed the media following a Sunday morning workout.

Fehoko Fanaika

Miles confirmed that neither Avery Johnson nor Fehoko Fanaika will be on the team this fall, as neither was able to qualify academically.

"Both guys will be delayed in their reporting date based on qualification issues," Miles said. "We would expect that they would be here in January without any loss of eligibility. It's not optimal but it's certainly not bad news. It's survivable."

Johnson's father, Patrick Peterson Sr., said Saturday that his younger son will likely go to a prep school while he works to increase his SAT score.

Miles said Fanaika will be in school somewhere to work on his academic situation. The 6-foot-6, 340-pound Fanaika spent the last two seasons at the College of San Mateo playing junior college ball.

Back on the field, Miles touched on several topics following his squad's first full practice together:

  • The Tigers ran through their first Big Cat drill of fall camp, with Miles matching freshmen up with veterans for the most part.

    Not surprisingly, the older players won most battles and made sure their younger teammates knew it.

    Among the better matchups were Derek Edinburgh vs. Lavar Edwards, La'el Collins vs. Quentin Thomas, Jarvis Landry vs. Dwayne Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu vs. Travin Dural.

    Landry and fellow receiver James Wright lost their helmets in their matchups and kept fighting until the whistle blew. If there was any question about whether Mathieu's swagger isn't in full health, he let Dural know it wasn't after their physical exchange.

    There was a brief – and humorous – moment when quarterback Zach Mettenberger jumped in the middle ready to tangle after Miles called for Edinburgh.

    "We're a physical football team," Miles said. "Our guys understand it. This is how we play. It's fundamental to us. It's what we're gonna do. It was kind of fun.

    "There's some natural animosity when some big men, or for that matter strong men, decide they're going to whack each other. It was fun. I enjoyed it."

    Jeremy Hill

  • Redshirt freshman Paul Turner was not dressed out and was nowhere to be found. He also missed Saturday's work.

    Asked about the former West Monroe quarterback who is listed as a second-team wide receiver, Miles said "He's just a little nicked. He'll be fine."

  • Sunday marked the first time freshman Jeremy Hill was with the veteran crew of running backs and the former Redemptorist star looked right at home physically. Hill is listed at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, but appears to be carrying a few more pounds than that.

    "We're very talented in the backfield," Miles said. "He's really progressing. There's a guy who, if he loses a little bit of weight, would be real fast and real big. He needs to trim up a little bit. Maybe some of the other guys as well."

  • Anthony Johnson said Thursday that he has shed around 25 pounds from last season after playing at 320 as a true freshman last fall.

    "He's much quicker and more ready for the summer heat," Miles said.

    One player who has struggled to keep weight on is linebacker Tahj Jones.

    The projected starter at strongside linebacker, Jones said Thursday he is at a little over 200 pounds, the weight he played at most of last season.

    Tahj Jones

    That hasn't stopped him from being a key component on defense. Miles said he'd like to see Jones pack on some pounds, but doesn't think his light frame prevents him from being effective.

    "He plays heavy," Miles said. "He plays fast.

    "He takes coaching very well. He takes what he hears to the football field. I would like a team full of guys like him. He just continues to improve."

  • The battle for the starting left guard job continues to rage between sixth-year senior Josh Dworaczyk and sophomore La'el Collins.

    So far in camp, Collins has worked with the first unit almost exclusively and that could leave Dworaczyk as the a roaming backup.

    "Dworaczyk can be a swing guy," Miles said. "He can play tackle or center for that matter. The other guys are more comfortably in the spots that they're at. I think you'd like to leave La'el Collins where he's at."

  • Defensive coordinator John Chavis was in mid-season form, gnawing on the linebacker group more than once during drills. Most of his venom seemed to be directed at the talented crew of young backers – not a surprise considering Chavis is likely trying to toughen those players up quickly thinking they will contribute sooner rather than later.

  • Chavis wasn't the only coach picking up the pace in the tough love department. Normally laid-back running backs coach scolded his group and several quarterbacks who had trotted over to join them, saying "We just lost 12 seconds of that drill! Are you sh%&*$ing me!?" Wilson also chided Michael Ford when a handoff was botched between him and Rob Bolden.

    Ronald Martin

  • The second group of defensive backs behind the starters continued to be Jalen Mills, Jalen Collins, Ronald Martin and Micah Eugene. While those four lack the game experience of Eric Reid, Mathieu, Tharold Simon and Craig Loston, the second unit looks every bit the part physically and mechanically. While there might be a subtle dropoff when the Tigers have to turn to the younger members of the secondary, it won't be step and it may not take long for the difference to be barely discernible.

  • The pecking order of the QBs in the session the media observed was Mettenberger, Stephen Rivers, Bolden, Jerrard Randall and Brad Kragthorpe.

  • For the second day in a row, Paul Turner was not on the field in uniform and he was also nowhere to be found on the sideline. The redshirt freshman is a second-team receiver and a possible kickoff return candidate.

  • LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva was wandering around the morning practice and spent time speaking to another observer, former Clemson and Alabama defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

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