Cam Cameron restocks LSU's quarterback depth

LSU's most recent addition gives the Tigers a brighter future at the quarterback position.

Cam Cameron has now been in charge of LSU’s quarterbacks for more than two years, and the long process of restocking the depth has finally started to bear fruit.

The most recent addition of Purdue transfer Danny Etling gives the Tigers much more security at the position looking to the 2016 season and beyond. LSU will still just have three eligible quarterbacks on scholarship for 2015, but Cameron had his eyes on the future and now has the roster he wants.

So how did it come to be? Let’s take a look at how Cameron has recruited and built back LSU’s depth at quarterback over the last two-plus years.

Cameron arrived in February 2013 without a quarterback committed in the Class of 2014. That became his first priority and he initially identified a pair from out-of-state that fit what he wanted — Mason Rudolph and DeShone Kizer. Both were interested in LSU and became legitimate targets entering the spring.

Cameron’s arrival at LSU also coincided with the rise of Brandon Harris as a national prospect. Harris started landing major offers early that spring, and once Cameron got his eyes on him, he became target No. 1 for the Tigers.

LSU briefly considered going for two quarterbacks in that 2014 class but eventually put all its chips in Harris’ basket. Rudolph opted for Oklahoma State and Kizer jumped on an offer from his dream school, Notre Dame. LSU was fine to let those two go if it meant getting Harris, and Cameron pulled that off when he landed his commitment in the summer of 2013.

Brandon Harris played sparingly as a freshman

Harris enrolled at LSU the following January after Zach Mettenberger’s remarkable senior season under Cameron’s tutelage. Harris joined four other quarterbacks on the roster, but that number quickly dwindled over the next few months. Hayden Rettig transferred to Rutgers, Stephen Rivers headed for Vanderbilt and Rob Bolden (who had switched positions to wide receiver) moved on to Eastern Michigan.

Though none of the three fit what Cameron wanted in his quarterbacks, it left LSU with only two quarterbacks on scholarship — a true freshman in Harris and Anthony Jennings, who had barely played in his first season at LSU.

Cameron got a pair of commitments in the summer of 2014 (Justin McMillan for 2015 and Feleipe Franks for 2016) but that did nothing for the depth in the 2014 season. The performances of Jennings and Harris that season also left little to feel good about moving forward. LSU did dip its toes in the water for a junior college quarterback last fall, but Cameron didn’t find anything he wanted.

He also made a late push for Ohio State commit Torrance Gibson in the 2015 class, but that was a tall order, and Gibson ultimately stuck with the Buckeyes. That left McMillan, mostly considered a project at least two or three years away from the field, as the only quarterback in LSU’s 2015 class.

LSU will have him, Jennings and Harris on scholarship this season, and the latter two exited spring still tied for the starting job this year. Jennings also has to get reinstated following his recent arrest, but that’s a topic for another discussion. While there are still some question marks remaining for the position in 2015, the future has taken a turn for the brighter.

Etling, the new transfer, will have to sit out the 2015 season but will enroll this fall and go through practices with the team throughout the year. He’ll be fully eligible by the spring and at the very least gives the Tigers a quality insurance option should neither Jennings nor Harris take hold of the job this season.

Here’s how the LSU roster will hypothetically look at quarterback for 2016: Anthony Jennings (Sr.), Brandon Harris (Jr.), Danny Etling (Jr.), Justin McMillan (R-Fr.), Feleipe Franks (Fr.).

Feleipe Franks will be one of the best QBs LSU has ever signed

If Jennings or Harris wins the job in 2015 and performs well, they’ll enter 2016 as the incumbent likely to hold it for another season. If they don’t, look for Etling to provide legitimate competition in 2016 with the chance to win the job outright. In 2017, it could be Harris or Etling (both seniors by then) depending on what happens in the previous years.

The rest of the future comes down to how Cameron recruits.

Franks continues to rise in the rankings, now the No. 3 quarterback in the country. He’d be one of the highest rated quarterbacks to ever sign with LSU should he hold that position. 2018 looks to be the year he can take hold of LSU’s offense, if not earlier should the more veteran options not work out.

Cameron has targeted a pair of in-state quarterbacks for the 2017 class in Lowell Narcisse (St. James) and Keytaon Thompson (Landry-Walker). He also has a commitment in 2018 from Zadock Dinkelmann, who made that pledge more than a year ago. Cameron has also gone after some big-time national names in both classes, so he’s definitely working to ensure that depth is replenished year-after-year.

So while the quarterback position has been a massive point of concern for LSU over the last year, brighter days are ahead, and Cameron’s master plan has finally started to take shape.

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