Big shoes to fill

Josh Jasper made his presence felt last year as the Tigers' kickoff specialist. With the departure of the most-decorated kicker in LSU history, Jasper takes to his junior season with hopes of picking up where Colt David left off.

Two years ago Josh Jasper was splitting kickoff duties with Sean Gaudet and Andrew Crutchfield.

The freshman averaged 59 yards and 39 kicks on the year, a performance that warranted him more responsibility for 2008.

He caught fire on the backside of his sophomore season, seeing the 5-foot-11, 166-pound Memphis native average 60 yards or better on kickoffs in six of the Tigers’ final seven games.

With spring practice closing down before he takes to his junior campaign, all signs point to Jasper having his biggest role to date.

“I am concentrating on kickoffs and field goals right now,” he said. “Those will be the two units I will be starting on. I am the backup punter right now, but we will see how that works out.”

Jasper said that the last two seasons went a long way in setting him up for the role he will take on next fall.

“Coming in here and sharing the kickoff spot my freshman year and then getting the start my sophomore year was big time,” he said. “I grew a lot from that, and I think that I am in the perfect spot to go out and make some things happen for us.”

Of course, Jasper did not hold back on making things happen for the Tigers in 2008.

He successfully converted an onside kick against Auburn midway through the third quarter, recovered an onside kick against Alabama and converted an onside kick in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against Georgia Tech.

“The Alabama game was probably the biggest for me because I actually recovered the fumble,” said Jasper, who ran off the field after the recovery with his fists pumping wildly. “I will always remember that one because Ron Brooks really lit someone up, and it changed the pace of the game for us.”

Of course, Jasper does not remember too much about the conversion against Georgia Tech.

“Well, somebody definitely lit me up on that play,” Jasper said with a laugh. “All I know is that Ron got in there and recovered it, so that was all I was really worried about because I knew that I was going to get rocked on that play.”

The Auburn kick, however, had a little bit of extra Jasper flavor to it.

“When I got down to LSU the staff asked me if I could do any special kicks,” he said. “I can actually kick pretty well with both of my feet, so we put together a little left-footed kick that I was hitting consistently.

“We used it and it paid off, so that was pretty cool. There will be more of that to come,” added Jasper with a smile.

As for his mindset headed into the new season, Jasper said that nothing much would change.

“The staff loves touchbacks, and who is ever going to complain about that,” he said. “I am going to keep trying to put it in the endzone, but they really want me focusing on my hang time. They thought that I did a great job last year letting the coverage team get downfield, so I want to pick back up on that.

“I really don’t think I will change much because I was able to maintain some consistency last year,” he added. “I believe the Mississippi State game was the only game that someone returned a kick deep on me, and even then they did not score.”

Kicking field goals in the wake of David’s time at LSU, of course, will add some pressure.

“I really am going to do like Colt did and just get out there and kick like I know how to,” Jasper said. “Right now it is all about having fun for me. I think Baton Rouge is unbelievable, and I would not trade in any of this.”

Stepping in for an injured David in LSU’s opener against Appalachian State in 2008, Jasper hit on two-of-two field goals (33, 21).

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