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LSU vs. McNeese State - Saturday, September 5th, 2015 6:30 PM (SEC-Alt)
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8/4/15 5:55 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

There’s a lot of news to get to in today’s daily dose: The de-commitment of one of LSU’s most treasured recruits, the departure of another defensive tackle, and the re-arrival of another. On top of that, I’ll share with you a bit of football recruiting news, our countdown to Game Day, and a basketball video. I had mentioned that I would give you a list of five returning football players who I expect to play bigger roles this year, but I’ve decided to wait on that since so much news surfaced since yesterday’s report. Let’s get right to it…

First, running back/linebacker commit Dylan Moses of University Lab in Baton Rouge, the No. 1 prospect in the nation for the Class of 2017, has de-committed from LSU. In this statement posted on Twitter, Moses says that he wants to enjoy the recruiting process, but that he still loves LSU and the Tigers are still number one on his list. You might recall that Moses committed to LSU nearly two years ago when he was only 15 years old. Now, at age 17, he realizes the recruiting process offers him a once in a lifetime chance to have the red carpet rolled out for him by several top universities vying for his signature, and he wants to fully enjoy it. Honestly, I can’t say that I blame him. 

In other football news, defensive lineman Maquedius Bain has decided to transfer away from LSU. This news comes on the heels of Bain, Anthony Jennings and Dwayne Thomas being re-instated to the team after charges against them were dropped last week. 

Make no mistake about it, losing Bain is a tough blow for an LSU defensive line already dealing with depth issues. Bain was expected to be a part of LSU’s rotation at defensive end, especially when LSU goes to a 3-4 package, and at defensive tackle. Earlier this summer, LSU dismissed DT Trey Lealaimatafao after his arrest, and then had to let DT Travonté Valentine go after he reportedly failed multiple drug tests and missed an excessive amount of class time. Lealaimatafao and Valentine both transferred to Arizona Western Community College.

Interestingly, defensive tackle Mickey Johnson now says he will remain a part of the Tigers’ team, despite announcing in April that he planned to transfer to Louisiana Tech. Evidently, Mickey recognizes that he may have a better chance to see the playing field now that LSU has lost three defensive linemen since the end of the 2014 season. In Johnson’s two years at LSU, he’s played in seven games and recorded six tackles as a backup defensive tackle. Johnson came to LSU as a very highly regarded prospect out of St. Paul High School. In fact, he was the Class 5A first team All-State selection. 

One thing is certain, defensive line coach Ed Orgeron is burning the candle at both ends in hopes of replenishing the Tigers’ roster with big-time defensive linemen in 2016. Yesterday I learned that LSU recently extended an offer to five-star defensive end Oluwole Betiku (6-3.5, 240, Gardena, CA). LSU already has commitments from four defensive linemen (DE Andre Anthony and DTs Caleb Roddy, Edwin Alexander, and Glen Logan) and has extended offers to several other big-time DLs including five-star tackles Rashard Lawrence and Rashan Gary, and five-star end Shavar Manuel. Last year LSU signed only two defensive ends (Isaiah Washington and Arden Key) and no defensive tackles.

With the season opener against McNeese State just 32 days away,  today we’ll continue our Countdown to Game Day by remembering one of the fastest receivers to ever play at LSU - Orlando McDaniel. A native of Lake Charles, McDaniel was a dual sport athlete who excelled at football (he wore No. 32) and even more so at track and field where he was named a Track All-American in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982. I often remind you of one of my late father's favorite expressions, “speed kills on the highway and on the playing field,” and McDaniel was a prime example of this. On the gridiron, McDaniel used his speed and jumping ability to separate himself from defenders and earned All-SEC honors in 1981. You can check out a few of McDaniel’s Tiger highlights in this video which I've added to our Media Gallery. After graduating from LSU, McDaniel was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1982 draft by the Denver Broncos. From what I can tell based on my internet research, it appears that McDaniel is currently Executive Director, Founder, and Head Coach of the North Texas Cheetahs Track Club.

A few closing tidbits:

• Here are video highlights from last weekend’s LSU basketball practices that show what a talented group of Tigers Johnny Jones has assembled. Watching these guys, and the chemistry they seem to have already developed, gives me lots of confidence in the future of LSU basketball. 

• The NFL preseason gets underway this Sunday, and here's a list of 53 LSU football players in training camp.  

• Here’s Athlon Sports’ LSU Fall Camp Preview and Key Position Battles to Watch

• Looking for LSU football tickets? I’ve updated our Ticket Exchange with several new listings.

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8/3/15 5:50 am CDT

Good Morning, Tiger Fans,

In just two days, the LSU football team will report to fall camp and in three days they’ll begin practice. As of now, LSU hasn’t sent out its press release to the media announcing the practice times and media availability, but if practice is open to the media on Thursday I’ll be sure to attend at least one of the day’s two sessions so that I can give you a report on what I see. If the last couple of years are any indication, the first four practice days will probably be split with “veterans” practicing in the morning and the “freshmen and select veterans” in the scorching heat of a south Louisiana August afternoon. (It’s almost cruel to call it “fall practice,” isn’t it?) As soon as I have more information on the schedule, I’ll be sure to pass it along. 

As promised, today I’ll write a bit about five incoming freshmen I’m really looking forward to seeing in fall camp. Here we go…

Donté Jackson (CB, 5-11, 168)

Without a doubt, Jackson will be the fastest player on the team, but this defending state champion in the 100 meters has more going for him than just elite speed. At Riverdale High, and on the camp circuit, Jackson demonstrated that he also possesses exceptional athleticism and great football instincts. Coach Miles has stated that Jackson could be used not only as a lockdown cornerback, but also on special teams as a returner and even occasionally on offense. The word coming out of summer workouts is that Jackson has been extremely impressive in 7-on-7 competition.

Arden Key (DE, 6-5, 230)

Key is one of two players, along with offensive tackle Chidi Valentine-Okeke, who has not yet reported to LSU, but both are expected to enroll this week in time for Fall camp. A fierce pass rusher who draws comparisons to Keke Mingo, Key could help fill one of the team’s biggest needs, that is, the need to replace last year’s starting defensive ends, Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco. Whether or not Key earns a starting role, look for him to see the field this season as a situational pass-rusher, either as an end in a 4-3 defense or as a standup guy in the 3-4. 

Isaiah Washington (DE, 6-4, 240)

The word is that Washington has had a great summer and is really turning heads. Like Key, this incoming defensive end has the potential to see the field early because of the Tigers’ lack of experienced depth at the position. When JC Shurburtt of 247Sports listed “sleepers” for each SEC team in 2015, he named Washington as LSU’s sleeper, and I think he might be onto something. 

George Brown (OT, 6-6, 283)

Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Brown was a highly regarded four-star prospect out of high school who originally committed to Florida before flipping to LSU. Back when he signed with the Tigers, he was listed at 253 pounds, but since that time he has really transformed his body in a good way by gaining 30 pounds of muscle, and the word is that he’s still packing it on. Like Washington, I consider Brown one of the “sleepers” in this years class, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him receive some early playing time in a backup role this year.

Derrius Guice (RB, 5-11, 216)

Guice is known as a workout warrior (remember he’s the one that passed out in a recent workout after dehydrating) and he’s another player who has been receiving rave reviews this summer. Even though he’s not as big as the two veteran running backs ahead of him on our unofficial depth chart (Leonard Fournette and Darrell Williams), he’s exceptionally strong for his size and tough as nails. Another thing he has going for him, as demonstrated in the US Army All-Star Game, is great hands. In that game, Guice accounted for over 150 receiving yards on just two catches and was named MVP.  

Stay tuned, as tomorrow I’ll write a bit about five or six returning players who are expected to play much bigger roles this season.

Speaking of returning players who will play big roles this year, one of them is the topic of today’s Countdown to GameDay. With 33 days remaining until the season-opener against McNeese State, I thought it appropriate to feature No. 33 on this year’s team - Jamal Adams.  

Rated as a five-star safety, the No. 31 overall player by 247Sports.com and the No. 1 safety prospect in the nation by Scout.com, Adams came to LSU last year with lots of fanfare, and the Carrollton, TX native did not disappoint. Adams finished the season with 66 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack and five passes broken up. Despite only starting two games for the Tigers, Adams was the sixth leading tackler for LSU in 2014. Although the Tigers lost their bowl game vs. Notre Dame, Adams shined in the contest, totaling 10 tackles, two of them for a loss. One of those tackles for loss was a critical four-yard loss on 4th and 1 that ended a Notre Dame drive after they had reached the LSU 20. Adams also had one of the most crushing blocks in 2014 on a key punt return TD by Tre’Davious White against Kentucky.  

One thing that says a lot about the kind of player Adams is, and how highly he’s regarded, is that he became the first freshman in Coach Les Miles’ 10 years as head coach to serve as a team captain for a contest when he did so versus ULM, which was just the third game of Adam’s career. I noted a couple of weeks ago that Adams was voted as a third-team preseason All-SEC selection at safety, but I think he’ll easily surpass that when the post-season All-SEC team is selected. With Adams, Jalen Mills, Tre’Davious White, Kevin Toliver, Ed Paris and Rickey Jefferson in the secondary, LSU should once again have the SEC’s top passing defense, and their DBU moniker will only be strengthened.

Note: I was hoping to post a video of Adams’ freshman highlights at LSU and I found two good ones, but unfortunately the background music was inappropriate, to say the least.  

In baseball news, LSU left-handed pitcher Jake Latz, who missed all of his highly anticipated freshman year due to an elbow injury, returned to the mound Saturday. Pitching two innings for the Du Page County Hounds of the Midwest Collegiate League, Latz retired the side in order in the first and worked around a leadoff triple in the second for two scoreless innings with five strikeouts. That’s all I’ve heard about the outing, but it sure sounds encouraging.  

A bit of lagniappe in closing: Yesterday I mentioned that I’d be heading out to my favorite north Louisiana creek for a little fishing and a lot of you asked me to let you know how I did. Well, I only fished for about an hour and a half, but did very well. Under a thick canopy of cypress trees, the early morning temperature was very pleasant with a slight breeze blowing from the north, and the fish seemed as excited about that as I was. I ended up catching a half dozen good-sized bass and a few bream. There was no one there to take a picture for me, but I did manage to shoot this selfie to share with you today. 

Reader Comments: Last year Tiger Fans generously donated 225 tickets and 35 parking passes to the LSU/ELS Dream Game which allowed mentally challenged residents of Louisiana to enjoy the “Tiger Stadium Experience,” and it was a huge success. Evergreen Life Services (ELS) provides care for over 700 residents in 7 Divisions throughout the state of Louisiana. LSU/ELS Dream Game II in 2015 will be October 24th versus Western Kentucky. If you are not planning to attend this game, please consider a tax deductible donation of your tickets and parking passes so these less fortunate individuals can fill your seats. Contact Clint McAlister: email cgmca@bellsouth.net or phone 318-469-6326.

 

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8/2/15 5:45 am CDT

Good morning, Tiger Fans,

Wow, yesterday sure was a big day for email as many of you wanted to express your opinion about the reinstatement of the three players to the football team. The general sentiment from most of the Tiger Fans I heard from is that the quarterback situation will be a replay of last year now that Jennings is back, and that his missing six weeks of the “offseason” won’t have any bearing on the quarterback competition. I don’t know about that, but I do know that if all things were indeed equal between the two quarterbacks at the end of spring practice, then Jennings’ foolishness combined with the extra time Harris had with the receivers in 7-on-7 drills this summer (and the extra pounds he gained), should put Harris in a better position to earn the starting job. It sure will be interesting to see if one quarterback or the other works more with the No. 1s when practice starts this Thursday. 

In today’s report, we’ll conclude our series on LSU’s 2015 football opponents and move on with our countdown to Game Day, but first here’s a little news on the basketball front.

In preparation for its Australian tour, the LSU men’s basketball team held its first of 10 scheduled practices yesterday evening. The practice courts at LSU were arc-taped according to international standards, with the three-point line at 22 feet-1 inch instead of at 20 feet-9 inches as it is here in college ball. I am excited that the Tigers are getting this added Australian experience before the season starts. With the highly touted incoming class of Ben Simmons, Antonio Blakeney and Brandon Sampson joining returning starters Keith Hornsby, Tim Quarterman and Jalyn Patterson as well as key reserves Josh Gray, Aaron Epps, Elbert Robinson, Brian Bridgewater and Darcy Malone on this trip, I look for the Tigers to build chemistry and reap the benefits of this additional work during their non-conference slate, which begins November 16 against Kennesaw State. Over the next few weeks, I’ll occasionally post more about LSU’s practices and the Australian games, as well as Coach Johnny Jones’ comments.

In other basketball news, three players from Elfrid Payton Elite, Louisiana’s Nike circuit team, were reportedly on unofficial visits to LSU yesterday afternoon. According to Ben Love of TigerSportsDigest, Brison Gresham and DeJon Jarreau, both of whom will be seniors this year at McDonogh 35, and incoming junior Brandon Rachal of Natchitoches Central, visited the campus as well as LSU’s first practice yesterday. As you may recall, Gresham and Jarreau received offers from LSU in mid-July, and although Rachal has not received an offer yet, word is that Johnny Jones and assistant coach David Patrick have increased their interest in him and are staying in regular contact with him.

Now for the final installation in our preview of LSU’s 2015 football opponents, let’s look at LSU’s last regular season opponent, the Aggies of Texas A&M. Here we go…

Saturday, November 28 — Texas A&M 

It’s hard to say just how good the Aggies will be this season. If their defense continues to struggle, they could be mediocre or worse. Last year A&M allowed 450 yards per game and finished 102nd in total defense. But if John Chavis is able to turn things around, the Aggies could be a contender because of the offensive star power they return. The Aggies return eight starters on offense, including quarterback Kyle Allen who showed last season that he has what it takes to be another great Aggie gunslinger, throwing for 1,322 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions after taking over for Kenny Hill in October. If Allen somehow falls off the map, the Aggies have one of the greatest Texas high school players of all-time in Kyler Murray to back him up. Murray won three straight state titles and amassed a 42-0 record at Allen High School. Surround either quarterback with Josh Reynolds, Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones at wide receiver and Kevin Sumlin’s offense should be capable of putting points on the board in 2015, despite not having a great rushing game. Of course, doing so against LSU’s secondary, which is expected to be among the best in the nation, will be a very tall order.

With 34 days until LSU’s season opener against McNeese State, let’s continue our Game Day countdown by looking at a big win for the Tigers in 1988, a 34-9 victory over Tennessee. Although the Volunteers were not very good that year (they’d finish 5-6 for the season), LSU had never won a game in Knoxville until that day on September 17 and trailed the series by a whopping 2-15-3 deficit. The Tiger defense, led by Verge Ausberry, Ron Sancho and Eric Hill, came to play, holding the Volunteers to just 199 yards of offense. Tommy Hodson fired three TD passes, the LSU running game piled up 257 yards, and the offense totaled 503 yards. The Tigers never trailed in the contest, leading 17-0 at the half. LSU would lose to Florida a couple of weeks later but would win their last five SEC games to win a share of the SEC Title. Including the 1988 victory, the Tigers have gone 7-5 in their last twelve contests against the Volunteers, including four straight wins. LSU still trails in the series 9-20-3. The ’88 victory is one of only three victories over UT in Knoxville. LSU also defeated the Volunteers in Knoxville in 2006 (28-24) and 2011 (38-7). You can relive the 1988 victory here.

While on the topic of 34, let’s also look at LSU’s current No. 34 – Darrel Williams. Williams came to LSU as a four-star recruit from Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.com after rushing for 2,201 yards and 32 touchdowns as a senior from John Ehret High. Although the Marrero native was rated the No. 11 running back nationally by Rivals, he was overshadowed by LSU’s other prize running back recruit, Leonard Fournette. Undeterred, Williams came to LSU determined to make a difference, and he did just that as a true freshman in 2014. Despite a crowded backfield that included Fournette and senior running backs Kenny Hilliard and Terrance Magee, Williams finished the season with 302 rushing yards, three rushing TDs and 63 receiving yards. Williams also played fullback in many sets for LSU, clearing paths for the other Tiger running backs to gobble up yardage. Although Fournette is expected to get the bulk of the carries, big things are expected from Williams in 2015.

As I do most weeks, I’ll leave with a few good reads to go along with your Sunday morning coffee, but first I want to thank all of you who commented on the recipe I shared yesterday. Also, just so you know, by the time most of you are reading this I’ll be wetting a line in my favorite North Louisiana creek. With any luck, I might have a few pics to share tomorrow. 

Rabalais: LSU’s passing game struggles aren’t all on Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris — there’s plenty of room for everyone to improve

Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris? LSU great quarterback debate rages on as 2015 preseason camp arrives this week

• LSU hopes to unleash Chark attack

Stay tuned as tomorrow we’ll take a look at five incoming freshmen I’m looking forward to seeing in fall football camp.

 

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