Tigers report Sunday for spring drills

The 2004 edition of the LSU Tiger football team reported for fall practice on Sunday, eager to begin their defense of the BCS National Championship title they won in January.

Bolstered by the addition of several highly-recruited freshmen, including receivers Xavier Carter and Early Doucet, all but four of the purple-and-gold weighed in and went through their first set of workouts in preparation for the season-opening clash with Oregon State on September 4.

"We're very happy to be back in the swing of football," said head coach Nick Saban. "We're happy to be back in camp, we're happy to have our players here, and we're looking at the challenges of what we have [ahead of us]."

Absent were offensive lineman Max Holmes and linebacker Harry Coleman, who will report in January, and tight end Jeremy Jones, who failed a physical and will also be grayshirted. Senior wide receiver Bennie Brazell is currently in Germany preparing for the Olympics and will rejoin the team following the completion of his events.

Junior defensive lineman Melvin Oliver, whose future with the team looked uncertain over the summer due to assault charges filed by a former girlfriend, completed his rehabilitation and was among those reporting for duty, Saban said.

"Melvin Oliver reported today, he has done all the things required of him to do to this point in terms of community service, police ride-arounds," said Saban. "He has never had any problems since he's been here over the four years."

The first practices of the fall get underway on Monday afternoon when the 105-member squad will be split into two sessions in order to give the entire team an opportunity to impress the coaching staff, after a series of Sunday sprint tests the notorious perfectionist Saban termed simply "unsatisfactory" after several unnamed players reported overweight.

"I've always said I've never seen anybody put a 25-pound weight around their neck to run the 100-meter dash in the Olympic Games," Saban said, "So it must not be the way to go if you're trying to get optimum performance.

"This may be a little tougher camp than what we've had in the past, because a couple of these guys need to understand that this can't be an every-year thing."

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