The Fall Practice Yardstick

Tiger Rag takes a position-by-position look at who's moving up and who's falling back on the LSU football team as they prepare for the 2002 season.

After taking in every fall practice session open to the media, here's my look at the Tigers who have stood out - for the right reasons and the wrong ones. Keep in mind I do not have access to scrimmages, so there could be a dark horse among the names mentioned.

There are three classifications used here - Moving up, falling back and standing still - and you'll see that some aren't applicable at certain positions.


Moving up - Marcus Randall has made a splendid return from his torn ACL. We'll probably know after Thursday's scrimmage if he will be available for Virginia Tech. Credit goes to team surgeon Dr. Brent Bankston, head trainer Jack Marucci and his staff and Marcus himself for working hard to come back so quickly. 

Falling back - Anyone expecting Michael Harrison to factor into the QB mix this season got a reality check in fall camp. He has served fine as an extra camp body but hasn't been around LSU long enough to fully grasp the Tiger offense.

Standing still - Rick Clausen got more scrimmage work last weekend with Randall held out and turned in decent stats. But when all is said and done, he hasn't made up any ground for the No. 2 spot.


Moving up - LaBrandon Toefield has shown no signs of his torn ACL and looks like he's ready to repeat as an All-SEC pick. The LSU coaching staff has the enviable problem of finding ways to get the most out of Toefield and Domanick Davis. Look for two-back sets with Joseph Addai getting his breakthrough chances as well this year.

Falling back - Ryan Gilbert hasn't necessarily had a poor fall, but he just isn't keeping pace with the top three backs. Dominique Owens has seen some practice time with the receivers and a full time switch to that position is conceivable.

Standing still - Chris Vincent showed promise at the end of spring practice but has missed time this fall due to a death in his family. Once he's back, he will need some strong practices to be considered for playing time.


Moving up - Walk-on Jacob Guidry is stating his case for playing time with a good fall camp. He came back quickly from an ankle sprain and lost very little ground. The only problem is that the fullback hasn't gotten a lot of snaps over the past two seasons.


Moving up - John Young has stated his case to be the No. 2 center, where just a year ago he probably would have watched Rob Sale get moved in from guard. Young's not going to displace Ben Wilkerson but will be a good backup when needed.


Moving up - Demetri Robinson is securing his spot as the backup to Eric Edwards. He's running great routes and developing as a blocker.

Falling back - Kory Hebert is a good pass catcher but appears to lack the blocking ability of the other players at his position.

Standing still - David Jones hasn't had a bad fall but he's at No. 3 in our depth chart after seeing Robinson make his move.


Moving up - You might think Michael Clayton couldn't raise his status any further, but he's had the kind of fall that makes you think the Tigers won't miss Josh Reed quite as much as projected.

Standing still - The two fastest players at the position, Devery Henderson and Bennie Brazell, still have some work to do on their routes to get into the mix.


Moving up - Brandon Hurley should give the Tigers a strong third or fourth option at defensive tackle. He's worked hard for this moment since the second he committed to the Tigers and should be rewarded with playing time.

Falling back - Melvin Oliver hasn't been among the two-deeps for the last few practice sessions.

Standing still - Nate Livings is still getting into football shape and isn't likely to make a move toward playing time until his conditioning improves. He's got loads of potential that the coaching staff is working hard to tap.


Moving up - Cameron Vaughn could very well be the starter at Will linebacker for the Virginia Tech game. He's been very impressive in his quick grasp of the Tigers' defensive scheme.

Falling back - Lionel Turner stands to be the odd man out if Vaughn continues his progress. But to Turner's credit, he may be used as a Will or a situational Sam linebacker.

Standing still - Dorsett Buckels has to wait in the wings since Bradie James is handling the Mike linebacker spot. Before Buckels, Jason LeDoux is next in line for duty in the middle.


Moving up - Jack Hunt is now the No. 2 free safety and the first nickel back. He's very solid in his fundamentals and progressed swiftly in his comprehension of the defensive schemes.

Falling back - Adrian Mayes has been displaced with Hunt's progress. He will still be a special teams contributor but has some work to do if he wants significant playing time in the secondary.

Standing still - Keron Gordon, quite literally. He can't do much for the next few days after injuring his knee in the first week of practice. Gordon was having a great fall camp until he got injured, although a redshirt may be in everyone's best interest.


Moving up - Corey Webster has been impressive with his physical play in recent days. He was challenged to crack the depth chart in the spring but can be considered a solid No. 2 corner heading into the final week of fall camp.

Standing still - Ronnie Prude is a victim of the great numbers LSU has in the secondary. His performance, while not distinguishing, has still been solid. 

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