Freshmen Draw Attention

LSU head coach Les Miles met with the media following Sunday morning's full-squad practice, and one hot topic was the impact of the 2010 signees.

The LSU football team is through with the first four days of fall camp, seeing the freshmen and varsity join together for the first time on Sunday morning.

On Monday, the team will turn up the pace with the switch to full-pads workouts. And for a squad that finished the spring with high-intensity, the goal becomes picking up right where you left off.

“There will be carryover,” said Miles after Sunday morning’s session. “We were in shells today and it was pretty physical practice. We’ll add the Big Cat Drill and the Tiger Drill and a couple of other drills that are a little more physical.”

Typical for teams trying to find their footing in early camp, the defense has led the way through the first four days of the fall. While just four starters return from last season, Miles is confident that the unit’s development is on course.

“There is a lot of speed on that side of the ball,” he said. “I think our defense is doing a good job with stripping and going after turnovers in an aggressive way. That was evident (Sunday).”

Though no defensive freshmen made the move to practice in the morning’s during the opening days of camp, 2010 signee Tyrann Mathieu ran with the second team at cornerback when the two groups joined together on Sunday. Mathieu, a 5-foot-9, 180-pounder, backed up Patrick Peterson on the right side.

“I think (Mathieu’s) a very talented corner, and I think he’s going to be a guy that will pick up the scheme extremely well,” Miles said. “To be honest, our young defensive backs are in a position to be in the two-deep, period. They are getting a lot of reps and a lot of opportunities.

“Its very difficult to say where we will end up, but right now the review of the young secondary is very positive across the board,” he added. “All those guys, every one of them, will be in a position to play some. Then we will go from there.”

Another new name that drew attention was Miami native Jakhari Gore, who signed on with LSU last February as a running back. Playing 6A football at Christopher Columbus High in south Florida, Gore wrapped up his senior season with 1,800 yards and 29 touchdowns. In nine of the team’s 11 games, the 5-foot-9, 175-pounder went over the 100-yard mark.

“We started him out in the first three practices at running back, then decided after three to move him to wide receiver for three, and then we might bring him back to running back. Jakhari is going to be a tailback certainly, and a receiver and a specialist – a punt return and kick return guy. He has ball skills and great quickness. Some of the things that he does, he does pretty special.”

Offensive lineman Evan Washington, the lone early enrollee from the 2010 class, is also making waves – starting with his new look. Listed at 6-foot-5, 315-pounds, Washington – who has practiced at both tackle and guard - is down to 16-percent body fat. 

“He’s changed his body around for a big man, and we’re pretty excited about him,” Miles said. “We are looking at him inside and outside. He’s a youthful guy that’s trying to learn it all.”

Of course, between now and the August 16 MLB decision deadline all focus will be on incoming freshman Zach Lee, who was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round.

Through four days of fall camp, the impression from players was that if Lee won’t elect to leave Baton Rouge for pro ball.

“I’d be shocked,” said wide receiver Terrance Toliver.

From calling summer meetings with receivers to long days spent throwing balls in the indoor facility, the reports on Lee’s progress have been nothing but positive.

“(Lee’s) come in and had a great summer,” Miles said. “He has provided that leadership. In our minds, he’s the future at quarterback.”

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