Summer Top 50 - No. 7 Travin Dural

A player whose nickname is "Flight" hits the countdown Thursday as the highest rated receiver on LSU's roster.

Because everyone loves to rank things, and because summer is the best time to argue and debate, TSD is spending the coming weeks through the end of July rolling out its top 50 LSU football players for the coming season.

Many are seasoned veterans and a select few are new to the roster, but all 50 Tigers figure to make an impact on the gridiron in 2015.

So we hope you enjoy this list, updated once each weekday and compiled by the TSD staff of Ben Love and Hunter Paniagua (who, naturally, had disagreements of their own along the way).

Today the countdown reaches a vertical threat in the passing game at No. 7, veteran wide-out Travin Dural.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM


He was the best receiver on LSU's team in 2014, and Dural turned down an opportunity to go pro after his redshirt sophomore season for another go-round in Baton Rouge. Even bigger things can be expected from "Flight 83" this fall with a quarterback situation that frankly can't get any worse and Dural himself adding some weight and sponging route-running techniques from new position coach Tony Ball.

Dural (6-2, 192) has proven production in the last two years. In 2013, as a secondary option behind the likes of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, the Breaux Bridge native hauled in seven passes for 145 yards and two scores, including the game-winner versus Arkansas. Last season he led the Tigers in receptions (37), receiving yardage (758) and receiving touchdowns (7). He also set the program record with a 94-yard reception against Sam Houston State.

Whether it's going deep or jumping up, as Dural did for a critical late touchdown at Florida, No. 83 is LSU's primary weapon in the passing game. His versatility floats him in a list like this, too, as Dural can play out wide or in the slot, where he also began taking jet sweeps toward the end of last season with great success. Without question Dural is one of the top athletes on the roster.

STILL LEFT TO PROVE


Dural will have to show improvements in three areas to become the most complete receiver he can be during the remainder of his time at LSU, which is only expected to be one more season for the Biletnikoff Award watch lister. They are: run-blocking, gaining better separation with his routes and continuing his learning curve in the slot.

The most important of those three items is the one in the middle. Dural will be the first to tell you that the receivers let down the young quarterbacks last year with inadequate route-running and a lack of separation from defensive backs. He's clearly taken it upon himself to lead the corps to be better in that department.

The other two aspects of his game mentioned can go hand-in-hand. With the emergence of D.J. Chark this offseason, LSU will have the opportunity to put Chark and sophomore athletic freak Malachi Dupre out wide with Dural in the slot. Playing there will allow Dural to be more involved in the run game, taking jet sweeps, end-arounds and whatever else Cam Cameron can imagine. It will also test his resolve as a run-blocker more and allow him different avenues to get open down the middle of the field, not just on the outside as he's mostly used to.





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