Stevan Ridley has never been a staple in the Tiger backfield (started in two of 36 games played), but the departure of Charles Scott and Keiland Williams has freed up enough room for the 6’0”, 226-pounder to move into a spot out front that he can call home.
He’ll share carries with Michael Ford and Richard Murphy, but the big touches – especially early – will likely stay in the hands of Ridley. A one-time fullback with the team, Ridley’s outings in the spring – from positive practice reviews to big results at each scrimmage – have the redshirt junior’s stock at tailback as high as ever.
Spring game results: led all rushers with 139 yards on 19 carries.
Summer workout numbers: 42” vertical jump (team best), cleaned 352 pounds (2nd on team), benched 425 pounds and squatted 510 pounds.
The word out of summer workouts was that when the lights were turned off each night in the weight room, Ford was still working – no surprise given he was the only offensive skill player to rank in the top five on the team in the vertical, power clean, bench press and squat.
When asked at SEC Media Days whether he would ease Ford into the mix or let the redshirt freshman loose, head coach Les Miles went with the latter, saying that Ford would see his fair share of playing time in the team’s opener against North Carolina in Atlanta.
Senior Terrance Toliver leads LSU’s talented trio of wideouts, but Rueben Randle – also ranked the No. 1 wide receiver coming out of high school – carries just as many expectations.
Randle’s first season in Baton Rouge saw the freshman nab four starts in route to seeing action in every game of the year, but the playing time only turned out 11 catches. Still, the Bastrop, La. native made things count, scoring twice in Oxford, Miss. to keep the Tigers alive in their infamous bout with the Rebels. He also came up with a pair of fourth-quarter grabs against Georgia, catches that also helped keep hope alive when the Tigers trailed late.
Randle should match his 11 receptions from last fall in a hurry. How far he takes his game in 2010 remains the only question to be answered.
The quarterback experiment is officially a thing of the past; a move that Les Miles admitted wishing he had made the minute Russell Shepard stepped onto campus as an early-enrollee in January 2009.
So many times last fall Shepard showed flashes of brilliance, and so many more times fans were left wondering why the freshman wasn’t getting more touches – if he was getting any at all.
Don’t count on those same frustrations this fall. The move to receiver has Shepard in line for plenty of time on the field, and his ability to double as a threat out of the backfield should help get the ball in his hands.
Another added tool: first year wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales. A former Florida assistant, Gonzales helped shape the likes of Percy Harvin, a wideout with homerun abilities similar to Shepard.
LSU dreaded the day that Richard Dickson, a four-year starter at tight end, graduated and moved on from the program. What the Tigers didn’t expect was to have a receiving option like junior Deangelo Peterson to turn to.
A one-time wide receiver, Peterson’s 6-foot-4, 240-plus pound body soon spelled tight end. The coaches moved the New Orleans native away from receiver for the first time just a year ago, so progress has been made in a hurry.
The word out of summer workouts was that Peterson was on the fast track to a breakout year, showing big improvements in both run blocking and route running. One interesting number to note: 5-5. While Peterson caught just five passes last fall, all five went for first downs – two of which were touchdowns.