More ready than ever

Drake Nevis turned heads this time last year with a two sack performance at the Tigers' spring game. A year later, the Marrero native is eyeing a full time starting spot for the first time, and he is more ready than ever.

The story is one that Tiger fans have heard time and again.


A south Louisiana-bred defensive lineman turned Bayou Bengal. 


This time it is a 6-foot-1, 288-pound tackle by way of John Ehret High, where he recorded class 5A All State honors his senior season. 


Now, two years into the program, Nevis has four starts under his belt.


He appeared in 11 games and earned two starts last season, where he recorded 16 tackles, nine solo, in the process, one less than his freshman campaign total.


During the team's first major go of the spring last Saturday, the sophomore's performance turned heads once more.


Though the team released limited stats from the private scrimmage, Nevis' name made the cut. He had forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.


"My teammates freed me up for some big opportunities," he said. "We got out there and we made some plays together, and that was the key. I would not have been able to do anything out there if they weren't on my level too."


Nevis worked alongside Al Woods in the middle throughout the afternoon. Add in the pressure from Rahim Alem and Pep Levingston on the outside, and the group was, according to head coach Les Miles, too much for the offensive line to handle.


Though the names are recognizable to most Tiger fans, the group is young if the parameter of judgment becomes Saturday starts.


If you combined the stats of the four projected starters from their 2008 campaign's, you would piece together 65 tackles and six starts. Half of the starts are owned by Woods, and nearly half the tackles (29) were earned by Alem.


No worries, said Nevis, for even the unproven are eager to perform. 


"Even Pep is ready," he said. 


Levingston, who is projected to start opposite Alem at defensive end, appeared in eleven games without a start last season, where he recorded nine tackles. The total was the least of any of the defensive lineman in the Saturday rotation.


"It does not matter," said Nevis of Levingston's unproven past. "Pep is coming along great, and he had never gotten that chance before now. He is showing what this line is all about, and it is that everything is a matter of being patient.


"We have all known each other since we came into LSU, so we have come through this together and know what we want to get out of it."


What they have been through, in part, references the recent coaching switch the group experienced. 


Losing both their position coach and defensive coordinator, Nevis and the rest of the Tiger line were left to start from scratch.


When Brick Haley and John Chavis were brought to town to fill the coaching voids, Nevis said that he was quick to set an example for the rest of the team.


"All I wanted to do was come in and practice with the mindset that I am going to learn what the new coach tells me to do," he said. "I just wanted everyone to let the new staff know that we were coachable. 


"If we come with the mindset to learn, then we can make it happen."


Of course, the road that Haley has the unit on is not one that Nevis would describe as too bumpy.


"I actually like everything that he is making us do," said Nevis with a laugh. "I think we are just ready to take the drills to the field."


He will get that chance in Seattle on Sept. 5 against Washington, the Tigers' season opener.


Nevis said that he holds little doubt for what that day will hold for the Huskies.


"All I know is that we have some big things ready for them," he said.






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