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LSU vs. Wisconsin - August 30, 2014 - 8:00 P.M. Kickoff (ESPN)
0 Day, 0 hour, 0 minute

7/25/14 5:50 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

By the time most of you are reading this I’ll be on my way to Baton Rouge to check out the elite football camp which got underway yesterday. Based on everything I’ve read and heard about Day 1 of the camp, the amount of talent out there is nothing short of spectacular.

A few players who really turned heads were LSU commits Derrius Guice, Dylan Moses and David Ducre who were clocked at blazing speeds in the 40-yard dash. Guice (RB, 5-11, 219, Catholic of Baton Rouge, Class of 2015) ran it in 4.32, while Moses (6-2, 220, LB/RB, University High, Class of 2017) ran it in 4.39. Perhaps even more impressive was fullback David Ducre’s time of 4.41, considering the Mandeville native (Lakeshore High, Class of 2015) tips the scale at nearly 240 pounds. If Guice, Ducré and fellow in-state running back commit Nick Brossette (RB, 6'0", 210, University High, Class of 2015) stick to their commitments and end up signing with LSU in February, can you imagine the level of talent LSU could have in its 2015 backfield with Leonard Fournette and Darrell Williams as sophomores, and Guice, Brosette and Ducre as freshmen?

As for other standouts, class of 2016 wide receiver Dee Anderson (6-4, 175, Mesquite, TX) is reported to have been one of the day’s top performers. He, along with fellow 2016 prospects Shyheim Carter (DB, 5-11, 185) of Kentwood and Joshua Perry (S, 6-2, 184) of Amite received LSU offers. As far as I know, no new offers were extended to Class of 2015 prospects, although I would expect a few to be extended offers today. 

Today we’ll continue our series on LSU veteran football players who have kind of flown under the radar or have been lost in the hype surrounding the stellar class of incoming freshmen. The topic of today’s discussion is someone who will have a lot to say about LSU’s success in the season opener against a run-heavy Wisconsin team. Here we go…

Christian LaCouture

There are two positions with uncertainties that could make or break LSU’s season. Of course, the first is quarterback. Will LSU have a quarterback that can manage the game, make key passes when needed and limit turnovers? The other is defensive tackle. Will the young Tiger DTs have enough talent and depth to make up for the loss of starters Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson, can they stop vicious running schemes in the SEC, and are there any superstars who can ignite the defense upfront? Christian LaCouture can’t answer all of those questions, but he can be the face of the position and assert his dominance early. Of all the big-time Class of 2013 defensive line recruits LSU signed, it was LaCouture who stood out most as a reserve last season with 11 tackles and one sack in limited action. With both of last year’s starters gone, it’s safe to say that LaCouture will be called on to step up big, and he’ll be tested from the get-go against the powerful running game of Wisconsin. If LaCouture is up to the challenge, as I predict he is, then look for him to become a fan favorite very quickly.

With 36 days remaining until LSU’s season opener, today we’ll continue our countdown to game day by looking at a special player who wore No. 36 – J.W. Brodnax. “Red,” as Brodnax was commonly known, was a tremendous athlete who lettered at LSU from 1956-58 and was MVP of the Tigers’ 1958 National Championship Team. He played his high school ball at Bastrop High where he was an outstanding all-around athlete who made All-State as a running back in football and as a pitcher in baseball. He was also a member of the state championship mile relay track team. Brodnax arrived at LSU as a fullback, but was moved to the less glamorous fullback position in his sophomore year because Coach Paul Dietzel also had Billy Cannon and Johnny Robinson and wanted to utilize all three backs in the Wing-T formation. Red turned out to be a great fullback and his outstanding blocking was a significant factor in the success of Cannon and Robinson. After his days at LSU, Red went on to play professional football for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, and in the Canadian Football League. Tragically, Brodnax was fatally struck by a van while riding his bicycle in Morgan City in March of 2006. Here's a great photo of “Red” from LIFE magazine's series on LSU's 1958 team that I came across online when researching Brodnax. (Note: Brodnax is wearing No. 40 in the photo. He wore both 40 and 36 while at LSU.)

On a related note, I hope that some of my older readers may be able to help out with a request from Brodnax’s daughter, which I’ve included in the reader comment below.

Reader Comments: Scott:  Most of your readers are familiar with the name J.W. "Red" Brodnax. Many will never forget the Brodnax/Cannon duo. J.W.'s oldest child, Debbie, is a clerk at the Ruston Post Office. Today she asked me if I had a Gumbo (LSU yearbook) from her father's years and I told her I did not but that I would try to find one for her. She said as a child they used to look at pictures of her father, but now none exist. So, if any reader has a Gumbo with J.W.'s picture in it and would like to gift it to Debbie, they can mail it to her at the U.S. Post Office, 700 East Georgia, Ruston, LA. 71273 or they can mail it to me, Tom Carey, P.O. Box 217, Ruston, LA 71273 and I will get it/them to her. Thank you for your time and help. I know she will be very grateful.

7/24/14 5:50 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

It was great hearing from many of you yesterday about our series on LSU players who’ve flown under the radar, and about our countdown to game day. We’ll continue both of those in a moment, but first a quick word about recruiting.

LSU’s big “elite” football camp will get underway today and it’s shaping up to be an outstanding camp. I plan on taking some time off from my day job tomorrow morning to head out there and check out the action, and today I’ll be monitoring reports via twitter and checking in with a source who will be on-site. I’ve heard from a few of you who've asked if I expect LSU to receive any commitments during the camp. My answer is that chances are high, although I wouldn’t judge the camps’ success by the number of commitments garnered. Last year was LSU’s most successful camp ever, but they didn’t pick up any commitments during it. What they did, however, was strengthen relationships with a lot of elite athletes who committed later. This year, LSU will be looking to do the same with several highly regarded out-of-state prospects, and in-state sensations like Tyron Johnson (WR, 6-1, 180, Warren Easton, No. 1 on my list of Top Prospects) and Donte Jackson (ATH, 5-11, 175, Riverdale, No 10 on my list). Those two, along with Kirk Merrit (WR, 5-11, 206) of Destrehan and Jerry Tillery (OT, 6-7, 325) of Evangel, are our highest rated in-state talents not currently committed to LSU. Unfortunately, I have not seen any confirmation of Merritt attending the camp, and my best source has informed me that as of now Tillery, a Notre Dame commit, has no plans of being there, although LSU has been gaining ground with him.

Speaking of big-time in-state targets, here’s some encouraging news about 2016 quarterback Shea Patterson, the Arizona commit mentioned in yesterday’s report whose brother has reportedly left Arizona to take a job at LSU. As reported by NOLA.com, Patterson is in Louisiana this week for LSU’s camp and worked out yesterday with 2015 LSU commit Kevin Toliver. Nola.com posted two impressive videos of them working out which I’ve embedded in our media gallery. One of them shows Toliver doing an incredible 57” vertical “box jump.”

In baseball recruiting news, LSU has picked up a commitment from 2015 left-handed pitcher Nick Bush of Leesburg, Ga. From what I understand, Bush had an outstanding Summer with the East Cobb Astros 18U team and has a fast ball that touches the lower 90s. Back in March, Bush received “High Honorable Mention” honors by Perfect Game.

Now let’s jump back to football and continue our series on players who’ve kind of flown under the radar but could be big contributors this season. Today we look at a former high school All-American tight end who could be an important component in this year’s passing game.

DeSean Smith

The SEC is seemingly lacking in tight ends that can alter the game by their presence on the field in 2014. Auburn’s C.J. Uzomah and Alabama’s O.J. Howard could possibly develop into these type of players, but so far, they have yet to prove it on a consistent basis. The same could be said for LSU’s multiple tight ends, which include the immensely talented DeSean Smith. With the right growth from year one to year two, and Cam Cameron’s brand of tight end scheming, I fully believe Smith could be LSU’s version of New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. Spread him out wide, pick your matchup and devastate the defense. Smith’s outstanding speed and athleticism, combined with his height (6-4) make him an ideal “receiving tight end,” and if LSU does in fact utilize the tight ends more in the passing game, as Coach Cameron has suggested they will, Smith could be a difference maker.

With 37 days remaining before LSU’s season-opener against Wisconsin, let’s continue our jersey countdown by looking at one of the all-time greatest Tigers to ever play the game - No. 37, Tommy Casanova. During his time at LSU from 1969-1971, Casanova (6'1", 186) was an extremely versatile athlete who played offense and defense, returned punts and kickoffs, and did just about everything except handle the water cart. Casanova was selected to the College Football All-America Team and the All-SEC Team during each of his three years as a Tiger, and in September of 1971, Sports Illustrated included Casanova on their cover along with the headline, “Tommy Casanova of LSU, Best Player in the Nation.” (Click here to see the cover image.) At that time, Casanova was a top contender for the Heisman Trophy, but a pulled hamstring in the second game of the 1971 season sidelined him for five weeks and pretty much took him out of the running. One of Casanova’s more notable individual performances came in a 1970 LSU win against Ole Miss that wrapped up an Orange Bowl bid for the Tigers. Casanova returned two punts for touchdowns that day, tying a national record, and LSU's Craig Burns added a third. As the Tigers steadily increased their lead in the second half en route to a 61-17 win, LSU fans who hadn't seen their team beat the Rebels since 1964 began to throw oranges on the field. Casanova went on to a successful NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals from 1972-1977 and was selected to the Pro Bowl in ’74, ’75, ’76, and ’77. While playing for the Bengals, Casanova began to pursue his M.D., and in 1977 he quit football to pursue his degree full-time. Casanova is now an ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) in his hometown of Crowley, LA.

In closing, I want to pass along a status update on LSU freshman DT Trey Lealaimatafao who was hospitalized Monday after punching through a window at the LSU practice facility and severely injuring his left arm. According to reports, Lealaimatafao has been released from the hospital and is recovering well. There have been no details released about the extent of his injury or how it will affect his playing career, although a full recovery is anticipated.

7/23/14 6:00 am CT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

A lot of Tiger Fans who follow recruiting are starting to get pumped about this week’s “elite” high school camp, which gets underway tomorrow. Over the years, summer camps have grown to become a very popular and important component of recruiting, and with good reason. The camps give the staff an opportunity to really get to know the players and see how they respond to coaching, interact with others, and compete against elite competition. This year’s camp will feature most of the state’s top talent and a slew of elite out-of-state prospects like Class of 2015 sensations CeCe Jefferson (DE, 6-2, 250, Glen Saint Mary, FL), Leo Lewis (LB, 6-3, 225, Brookhaven, MS), and others. The Class of 2016 will also be well represented with prospects like Louisiana’s own Willie Allen (OT, 6-8, 300, John Curtis), Edwin Alexander (DT 6-2, 310, Hammond) and Shea Patterson (QB, 6-2, 195, Calvary Baptist).

Speaking of Shea Patterson (the quarterback who is currently committed to Arizona but was offered by LSU last week), CoachingSearch.com is reporting that LSU offered his older brother, Sean Patterson, a position on the LSU coaching staff, and that he has accepted. Sean Patterson was previously working with the Arizona staff. Interesting, isn’t it?

In other news related to LSU football, Strength and Conditioning Coach Tommy Moffitt was interviewed on Baton Rouge’s ESPN 104.5 Morning Show yesterday and spoke highly of the team’s condition. Moffitt stated that the team reported to summer workouts in the best shape of any group he’s had, and that’s saying a lot. He also dished out praise for several players, including freshmen wide receivers Trey Quinn and Malachi Dupre. According to Moffitt, Dupre recorded a 42-inch vertical jump, and Quinn is pushing almost 22 MPH in the sprint, which he said is in line with the fastest time Odell Beckham, Jr. moved in any game last season.

That kind of praise for Quinn and Dupre make me more eager than ever to see them in action this fall, but another wide receiver who I’m expecting big things from this year is the topic of today’s ongoing series on players who have kind of been flying under the radar. Let’s get right to it…

Travin Dural

Dural entered last season with some nice hype after showing off his athleticism during fall practice, but once the season began it was the Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr. show. Dural had to bide his time behind the best receiving tandem in the country, but the time he spent rubbing elbows with those two, while also gaining experience against SEC defenses, will be a big plus for him this season. Come August, it will be Dural’s turn to be “the man.” With talented young receivers like Quinn, Dupre, and Tony Upchurch alongside him (not to mention fellow veterans Quantavious Leslie, Avery Peterson, John Diarse and Kevin Spears), he’ll really have to bring his A-game to remain at the top of the depth chart. In my opinion, it can’t be understated how badly LSU needs Dural to blossom into an efficient deep threat. With a new quarterback under center, it’s safe to assume that Leonard Fournette, Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard are going to be given the rock quite often. Defensive coordinators know this and they’ll put together schemes to shut LSU’s running game down, and that’s where LSU’s passing game comes in. Dural is talented enough to give the Tigers a true experienced weapon on the outside and his outstanding leaping ability will make him a favored red-zone target. If he proves his worth and LSU can sprinkle in some young, aggressive receivers opposite him, LSU’s offense could be a powerful force to be reckoned with.

Next up in this series of players who haven’t received a lot of preseason hype is a talented tight end who could also be a big threat in the passing game. As they say, stay tuned.

Let’s close out today’s update with our countdown to game day, which is 38 days away, by giving a shout-out to a great Tiger who wears No. 38 on the current team – Jamie Keehn. Hailing from Miners Rest, Australia, Keehn was a national champion javelin thrower and rower in high school, but never played a down in football. In fact, he had never taken a snap in a competitive football game until the 2012 season-opener vs. North Texas when he stepped in for an injured Brad Wing. Later that year, Keehn saw action in the last game of the season when he again filled in for his Aussi counterpart who was suspended for the Chick-fil-A Bowl game against Clemson. Last year, Keehn had the punting duties all to himself, and showed great promise, averaging 41.05 yards per punt. While Keehn is well known for his exceptional leg, what he is less known for is his exceptional character. A few weeks ago I mentioned that Keehn was nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and mentioned all the good works he has been associated with as a Tiger. Later that day, I received an email from a reader who shared with me the story of his son, a 15-year-old cancer patient, being visited by Keehn at the St. Jude Clinic in Baton Rouge. Not only did Keehn spend valuable time with his son at the clinic, he also gave him a tour of the athletic complex, introduced him to coaches and players and gave him the encouragement needed to keep fighting the battle. The young man’s father who shared this story with me concluded it by saying, “You are correct that it's not often that we hear about stories of young men who are doing the right thing in college athletics.  Jamie never sought the spotlight or recognition for any of the things he's done with my son.  He did it because he wanted to make a difference.”

A few tid-bits in closing:

• LSU baseball’s Kramer Robertson has been named as the starting second baseman for the Western Division team at the 2014 Cape Cod League All-Star Game. Robertson is the fifth LSU player to be selected for the game which will take place Sunday at 6 p.m. in Bourne, Massachusetts. As mentioned in previous reports, the other four are Conner Hale, Mark Laird, Chris Chinea and Andrew Stevenson. 

• Yesterday LSU gave the media a tour of the new Tiger Stadium south end zone expansion, including the the suites and club areas, and produced this video of the tour which I’ve added to our Media Gallery. Technical note: The movie is in Flash format and therefore is not viewable on iPhones and iPads. 

• Lastly, I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange with several new listings.


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