Saban pleased with state of returning players

Citing continued improvements in conditioning, LSU football coach Nick Saban told reporters Friday evening he was pleased with the results from the conditioning and endurance tests his returning varsity players went through today and Thursday.

Saban noted there was a 30 percent improvement from last year's marks and about 80 percent of the team was within one percentage point of passing a conditioning test given Thursday.

"The difference between last year and this year is night and day in terms of the number of guys who can persevere," said Saban, noting he saw better performances from his large linemen compared to 2000.

LSU released a roster of the 105 players who reported to campus this week, including the newcomers who reported on Monday. Saban provided some details on five players who have been declared medically unable to perform and will not be part of the team this season. While they will not play or practice, they will remain on scholarship and attend classes.

The five players under this category are defensive linemen Shaun Wynn and Melvin Richey, linebackers Jason Green and Terrance O'Bryant and wide receiver Ed Dangerfield.

Offensive lineman Jason Underwood was listed on the roster but Saban said that doctors had not cleared Underwood to practice or play this year following his second ACL injury suffered earlier this year.

Wide receiver Reggie Robinson, who will miss the season due to a neck injury that requires surgery, is also not on the roster. He will receive an ordinary redshirt, since Saban says doctors believe he will be able to play football after recovering from the operation. Saban said Robinson is not sure how he suffered the injury to one of the vertebrae in his neck.

"He said he was eating pizza with his son and bent his head down," Saban said, demonstrating the motion with a deep nod forward,  "and he felt a tingling in his fingers." 

Other players not reporting from last year were defensive lineman Brad West, who has transferred to Alabama; offensive lineman Daniel Leon, now at Southern; and offensive lineman Chris Henry, who has enrolled at Southwest Mississippi Community College.

A number of walk-ons from last year's roster are expected to report back to campus later this month.

With the departure of former graduate assistant Freddie Kitchens to a job on the staff at North Texas, Saban has named Tony Grantham his new offensive graduate assistant. Grantham had been LSU's recruiting GA, a position now held by former Tiger defensive lineman Kareem Mitchell. Theo Williams, another former lineman for LSU, was recently hired as the team's strength and conditioning graduate assistant. 

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