Reinstated LSU players return to competition

How will Anthony Jennings and Dwayne Thomas factor in their respective position battles?

Two of the three LSU players reinstated last week will enter fall camp squarely in the mix for ultra-competitive position battles.

Anthony Jennings will reignite his fight with Brandon Harris for the starting quarterback job. Dwayne Thomas will carve out his role in the LSU secondary now that he’s back from injury and all legal matters are behind him.

Maquedius Bain surprisingly announced Monday on Twitter that he'd be transferring from LSU, leaving LSU with even fewer bodies along the defensive line.

But looking specifically at Jennings and Thomas, how much will they be affected by their six-week suspensions? Do they have a realistic chance to start in 2015?

Let’s break down how these three will factor into LSU’s depth chart now that they’re fully reinstated.

Anthony Jennings still has a chance to win QB job

The quarterback battle will pick up exactly where it left off this spring. Les Miles said two days before Jennings was even reinstated that he would return and compete with Harris for the starting job. Neither Jennings nor Harris separated himself during spring practices, and that’s what the LSU coaches will finally hope to see this fall.

Though Jennings was not permitted to participate in offseason workouts, he was still regularly around the facility. Harris had the added benefit of working exclusively with the other starters in 7-on-7 and other work, but that seemingly doesn’t guarantee him the job.

It may prove beneficial once the pads come back on, but based on Miles’ recent comments, it appears both Jennings and Harris have an equal opportunity to win the job.

Now would LSU be better off with Harris as the starter? The coaches have admitted in the past he’s the more talented quarterback with a higher ceiling. But various factors prevented him from translating that into on-field success last season. Reports this summer have been positive regarding his improvement in all aspects, so maybe this fall is finally when he takes charge of the offense.

He’ll still have to prove himself though, and having Jennings back in the mix ratchets up the pressure. LSU may not have its decision made by the season opener against McNeese State, but you can bet they’ll want to know their starter by the time they travel to Mississippi State in Week 2.

Dwayne Thomas will likely be the least affected by his time away from the team. He was a major contributor in LSU’s secondary before a torn ACL derailed his season. He excelled in that nickel/dime role, free to rush the passer and make plays all over the field.

Thomas participated throughout spring in a green jersey but didn’t play in the Spring Game. He should be 100 percent by the start of fall camp.

Thomas isn’t really in the competition to be LSU’s No. 2 outside corner opposite Tre’Davious White. But Thomas has a unique skill set for this LSU defense, and his suspension this summer shouldn’t prevent him from finding that role again in 2015.

It’s obvious that neither one of these players benefitted from their summer suspensions. But it’s also clear that both will have a fair chance this fall to reclaim their spots on the depth chart.

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