There were five new faces sprinkled amongst the veterans at LSU's first practice of fall camp.
The Tigers will have split-squad workouts for the first four days of camp before coming together Monday for the first time. The mornings are technically reserved for veterans, the players expected to be atop the depth chart. But a handful of freshmen got to work out with the big dogs Thursday.
They were: cornerbacks Donte Jackson, Kevin Toliver and Xavier Lewis plus defensive ends Arden Key and Isaiah Washington.
Just because they practiced Thursday morning doesn't mean they're guaranteed to push for a starting spot. But they do have a good opportunity to make their case.
And the reports from their teammates were all positive.
“Just like a lot of young guys, they’re not going to have every play down," said junior defensive end Tashawn Bower. "They’ll make technique errors. But for the most part, they did a solid job.”
Jackson especially dropped the most jaws Thursday.
The former five-star recruit is well-known for his speed. A track champion in high school, he dropped a 4.36 40-yard dash time over the summer. He put it on display in the gauntlet drill, when players run down an alley of throwers catching balls coming from the left and right.
"He has world-class speed," said senior linebacker Lamar Louis. "He’s going to be doing something as a freshman. I’m not sure what it is, but he’ll be doing something.”
LSU coach Les Miles has hinted Jackson could get snaps on offense in his first year with the Tigers. His future is at cornerback though, and that speed will certainly come in handy.
“We’re just trying to get him to control his speed," said sophomore safety Jamal Adams. "He told me he only knows one speed. He's got to control it because that’s going to make him a better player.”
Key was another that received a lot of praise from his teammates. That matched the glowing words Miles had for the freshman pass rusher in Wednesday's pre-camp press conference. Louis even compared him to Danielle Hunter, LSU's No. 1 defensive end from last season and a third-round pick in this past NFL Draft.
Key wasn't even in Baton Rouge a full 24 hours before his first practice with the Tigers. His enrollment was delayed this summer because of transcript issues, and that prevented him from taking part in offseason workouts.
His teammates couldn't even tell he missed any time.
“It shows his work ethic and the type of character he has," Bower said. "This game requires work and a lot of hours. When you have a guy that hasn’t been here all summer, and he comes ready to work, it speaks volumes.”
The LSU offensive linemen got their first crack at Key during the one-on-one portion of Thursday's practice. Junior left tackle Jerald Hawkins said he didn't drop any reps to him, but he saw what the rest of his teammates did.
"He’s not afraid to put his hand down," Hawkins said. "He came in looking like he’s been here the whole summer. He didn’t miss a beat.”
There's one pivotal quality that Key, Jackson and the other freshman all share. Senior Jalen Mills helped put it into words.
“They’re swagged up all the time," he said.
Five freshmen in LSU's first veteran practice
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