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.