NCAA Baseball Championships:
DandyDon is proud to recognize David Toms as a great ambassador of the Tiger Nation.
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8/5/14 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU football team opened Fall Camp yesterday and I enjoyed making it out to the practice field to get an early look at the team. In practices like these, the players are broken up into various units that are spread out in various stations on the fields, so I made my rounds quickly and jotted down a few notes before settling in to shoot some video. In the morning session, I shot six-and-a-half minutes of video that I’ve edited to share with you here:
â€¨â€¨DandyDon.com’s LSU Football Practice Video - Morning Session, Day 1 of LSU’s 2014 Fall Camp
Below are a few quick notes from the morning practice session:
• Leonard Fournette was not working out with the veterans. As expected, the scholarship tailbacks working out in the morning were seniors Terrance Magee (proudly sporting No. 18) and Kenneth Hilliard. They were joined by senior fullback Connor Neighbors, junior fullback Devante Meuillon, and redshirt freshman John David Moore who is listed on the roster as a TE but was working out at fullback. â€¨
• Sophomore Anthony Jennings was the only scholarship quarterback working out. He was joined by junior Brad Kragthorpe and redshirt freshman Jake Clise.
• A few newcomers who I noticed working out with the veterans were freshmen Malachi Dupre, Tony Upchurch, Russell Gage, Clifton Garrett, Donnie Alexander, Devon Godchaux, Deondre Clark, Sione Teuhema, and Jamal Adams, as well as JUCO transfer tight end Collin Jeter. â€¨
• In the receiving drills, I noticed that Avery Peterson slipped and fell twice. I don’t know if anything should be read into that, but I found it interesting considering that he suffered a season-ending ankle injury last year in fall camp.â€¨
• In the gauntlet drill, which you’ll see in the video, I was particularly impressed with freshmen Malachi Dupre and Jamal Adams who made the drill look easier than anyone there with the possible exception of Travin Dural.
After breaking for a long work-lunch, I headed back out to the practice field for the afternoon session where I was somewhat surprised to see Jalen Mills working out with the team. As most of you know, Mills had been suspended from the team while waiting to see how his legal entanglement would work out. Well, early yesterday morning East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore announced that Mills will be charged with misdemeanor simple battery, which is considerably less severe than the charge of second degree battery which was originally considered. For this reason, Miles decided to reinstate him to the team. In a press conference held after practice, Miles said that he hasn't yet decided whether Mills will be suspended for any part of the season, but that he will be disciplined internally (For more on the Mills situation, see this article by nola.com, and see the quotes from Les Miles below.)
We, the media, only got to see 10 minutes of the afternoon session, and I spent just about all of that time shooting the six minutes of video which I’ll share with you here:
â€¨â€¨DandyDon.com’s LSU Football Practice Video - Afternoon Session, Day 1 of LSU’s 2014 Fall Camp.
Here are a few quick notes from the afternoon practice session:
• The first thing you’ll see in the video is the running back chain drill, and in it you can see the exceptional build and strength of Leonard Fournette. He certainly looks the part. Darrell Williams doesn’t look too shabby either. I have a feeling both of those backs will make Tiger fans happy for the next three to four years.
• Brandon Harris and Jared Foster were throwing the ball in the gauntlet drills and getting lots of praise for their throws from Coach Cameron. Harris threw several with so much zip that they were a challenge for the pass-catchers.
• Standouts in the gauntlet drill were D.J. Chark, Melvin Jones, Desean Smith, Rickey Jefferson, and Duke Riley. Trey Quinn also impressd with his sped and hands but was the victim of a couple of poorly thrown balls.
• You’ll notice in the video a player wearing No. 63 who was jokingly praised by Coach Cameron as the best catching right tackle in the game. That’s walk-on Trey Gallman who was an all-state offensive lineman in high school who has been moved to fullback.
All in all, it was a great first day of practice. Even though we were only able to see a few minutes of each session, it was clear that there’s an exceptional amount of talent on the field. The team will practice in shorts and helmets tomorrow and then will add shoulder pads on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, the team will practice for the first time as a full squad and in full-pads.
Below are a few quotes from Les Miles about Day 1, as provided by LSU’s Sports Information Department:
“We divided the team so we can have twice the reps,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “The split squad practices are beneficial to young guys who are getting a chance to get a lot of work during these first four days.
“Don’t make too much of which group players are practicing with. This is designed so that everyone is getting maximum reps. It may be as deceptive as pairing linebackers together so they can see it being done extremely well. It is fully for teaching purposes so that everyone can get maximum reps.”
“I was really excited to finally get out there with them. There were a number of guys that really showed well. It’s a good group. I like our receivers. I think they are going to be really good and the young guys will be pressing to play. It takes time to run routes and learn adjustments.
“You’ll see some talented guys in this (freshman) class that will learn quickly. They will eventually get there. This class is the style of class that you can win a national championship with hopefully sooner or later.”
On Leonard Fournette:
“We have to see him with pads on,” Miles said. “He has acceleration, good vision and good ball skills. I would guess that he would be a physical back once we put the pads on. We’re going to see how fast he comes, and I’ll be able to tell once we get closer to a game.”
On Jalen Mills:
“Jalen practiced with us today. He was suspended from the team for the entire summer. He will continue to be disciplined internally. The decision to let him come back took time. After an entire summer of suspension we felt like we’d bring him back, but he will continue to be disciplined.”
In other news, ESPN and DirecTV have reached an agreement for DirecTV to carry the SEC Network when it launches on Aug. 14. Along with DirecTV, six major providers – Bright House Networks, Comcast, Cox Media, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T U-Verse – have reached agreements to carry the SEC Network, making it available to 87 million households.
With 25 days remaining until Game Day, we’ll continue our countdown to Game Day now, but since today’s daily dose is already long, I’ll keep it brief and just recognize three outstanding former Tigers who wore the number 25. These include Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Title (1944-47), All-American wide receiver Josh Reed (1999-2001) and BCS Championship MVP running back Justin Vincent (2003-06).
One bit of basketball news in closing: The LSU men’s basketball team will play for the second straight year in the 24-hour ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon on Nov. 18. You may recall that when LSU participated in the marathon last year they lost a very close late-morning game at UMass, 93-91, to tipoff the season. This year the Tigers will host Texas Tech at the PMAC in a game that will be televised by ESPN2 at 8:30 p.m. CST. This will likely be LSU’s second game of the season.
Oh, and I’ve updated our ticket exchange. Have a great day, Tiger Fans!
8/4/14 5:50 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
The LSU football staff welcomed 103 players to campus yesterday as the Tigers are set to begin fall practice today. When the players first reported to camp, they were put through a number of organizational tasks - such as getting signed in, measured, fitted for equipment, etc. - and today they will take to the field for the first of four split practices with the “varsity” practicing at 9:35 a.m. and the “Freshmen/Selected Veterans” practicing at 3:50 p.m.
Coach Miles addressed the media yesterday for first press conference of the preseason season, and you can check out a video of the complete presser here. (Note: the video is from LSUSports.net and is in Flash format, so it isn’t viewable on iPhones/iPads.)
Early in the press conference, Miles confirmed that two players did not report to camp - freshman Travonte Valentine and senior Jalen Mills. Valentine is still awaiting clearance from the NCAA clearinghouse, and Miles didn’t really shed any light on how that process is progressing other than saying that Valentine’s high school and the clearinghouse are in communication. As for Mills, Miles said he is waiting to see how the legal process plays out and doesn’t intend to pressure the process in any way.
Here are a few additional keys points made by Coach Miles:
• When asked if he had a deadline in mind for naming a starting quarterback, Miles said that he does not and that the competition could go on until Game Day. (See related article/video by nola.com)â€¨â€¨
• Miles said Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris will alternate working their practice sessions. On the first day, one will work with the veterans and on the next day he will practice with the freshmen. The two will alternate that way for the first four split practice days.â€¨
• Miles emphasized that there will be competition at the right guard spot between Fehoko Fanaika and Evan Washington. Later he hinted that Fanaika might be the starter when he called Washington and Ethan Pocic backups that will get plenty of playing time.
• Defensive end Jermaura Rasco and safety Corey Thompson, who both missed spring practice with injuries, are back in good health and will not be limited when practice starts today.
• When speaking of his safeties, Miles said he really likes veterans Ronald Martin and Rickey Jefferson, as well as freshmen Jamal Adams and John Battle.
• As for the much-discussed defensive line, Miles said Christian LaCouture and Quintin Thomas have had great summers and are much improved, Frank Herron is a large man with mobility who has been moved inside, Maquedious Bain is very athletic, and Greg Gilmore has lost 20 pounds which gives him added mobility. In all, Miles said he like the group a lot.
Also, late last night LSU’s Michael Bonnette tweeted that senior running back Terrance Magee has been selected to wear the prestigious number 18, and I think that’s great. You’ll notice that I’ve updated our 2014 LSU football roster to reflect this, and to match the roster sent out by LSU last night which includes the incoming freshmen and a few other changes. One thing I found interesting about the latest roster emailed to the media is that is doesn’t include freshman Trey Lealaimatafao.
By the time many of you are reading this, I’ll be departing Lafayette for Baton Rouge to check out the first day of practice. I hope to have some video and/or photos to share with you tomorrow.
In recruiting news, LSU entertained one of the state’s top prospects Friday - Riverdale’s Donte Jackson. Jackson (ATH, 5-11, 175, No. 8 on our list of Top LA Prospects for 2015) was a standout at LSU’s elite camp last week and getting him back on campus so quickly is certainly a good sign. At this point, it appears that LSU and Georgia are neck and neck in his recruitment, with Oregon, Florida State and Texas A&M also in the picture. It probably goes without saying, but landing Jackson would be huge for LSU in terms of boosting its 2015 class and keeping the state’s best talent at home.
Now, with just 26 days remaining until LSU’s season opener against Wisconsin, let’s continue our Countdown to Game Day by remembering a game that took place on the 26th of November, 2004. There were a couple of things that made this contest significant. First, it ended in a 43-14 LSU win over Arkansas, marking the first LSU win in Little Rock since 1996 and breaking the so-called “War Memorial Stadium jinx.” It was also significant for another reason, unknown at the time, as it would also mark Nick Saban’s last regular season game and his last win as LSU’s coach. With a Capital One Bowl bid on the line, the Tigers struck first with a Marcus Randall to Joseph Aadai touchdown pass to take a quick 7-0 lead. Arkansas ran the ensuing kickoff deep into LSU territory and quickly tied the score. The Tigers struck back with a touchdown pass and field goal for a 17-7 lead, but the Razorbacks would quickly answer with another touchdown to cut the lead to three. LSU responded with 10 unanswered points to take a 27-14 halftime lead, and then added 16 more unanswered points in the second half to win 43-14 win and earn a berth in the Capital One Bowl against Iowa. Interestingly, that New Year’s Day bowl game would soon become secondary news as Nick Saban would accept a $5 million offer to become the Miami Dolphins head coach after the game, which LSU lost 30-25 on the final play when Iowa quarterback Drew Tate completed a long pass over an out-of-position LSU defensive back. That play would keep Saban from going out with a win in his final game and cost LSU a 10-win season and a top-10 ranking.
8/3/14 6:10 am CT
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Well, it’s finally here, folks - the day when Coach Miles welcomes his team and addresses the media to mark the official start of LSU’s “Fall Camp.”
With preseason practices getting underway tomorrow, there are a lot of questions about this year’s team that I’m looking forward to seeing answered in the coming days. One such question that I've been asked a lot lately is who will wear the coveted No. 18. As most of you know, the number 18 has special meaning at LSU as it is traditionally passed down to someone who the players, coaches and support staff feel represents what it means to be a Tiger by their dedication to excellence and strong work ethic. In my opinion, two great candidates to wear the number this year are seniors Terrance Magee and DJ Welter. Usually the selectee is announced on the first day of camp or the first day of practice, so I suspect we’ll know something soon. Once the news is out, I’ll be sure to tweet it to all of you who follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter.
Another question I’ve been asked quite a bit since posting the preseason practice schedule is whether I expect freshman Leonard Fournette to practice with the “varsity” or with the “freshmen and select veterans.” Even though several freshmen worked out with the veterans last year during the split practices, my expectation is that Fournette will practice with the freshmen, but that’s just my guess. I say that simply because the team’s top four running backs include two seniors and two freshmen, and it might make sense to split them that way for the sake of balancing the first four practice sessions. Looking back at my report from last year, I found it interesting that the eight freshmen I noticed practicing with the veteran group were Rickey Jefferson, Kendell Beckwith, Jeryl Brazil, Desean Smith, Lewis Neal, Greg Gilmore, Tashawn Bower and Maquedius Bain - none of which ended up being starters (with the exception of Jefferson who started one game).
Another thing I’ll be looking forward to seeing is an updated roster with the players’ current heights and weights. As soon as the new measurements are made available, I'll update our 2014 LSU Football Roster. And in a couple of weeks, or once I've had a chance to see the full squad practice together, I'll update our unofficial depth chart.
Of course, there are several bigger questions surrounding this LSU football team that probably won’t be answered until later in the preseason. These include: Will the charges against Jalen Mills be dropped and will he rejoin the team? Will Travonte Valentine receive clearance from the NCAA clearinghouse, and will it come in time for him to participate in Fall practice and make a case for early playing time? And then there’s the biggest question of all: Will it be sophomore Anthony Jennings or freshman Brandon Harris who emerges as the starting quarterback for the Fighting Tigers? Evidently, JC Shurburt of 247Sports thinks it will be Harris, as he points out in this article that he’s eyeing him as a potential True Freshman All-American.
With only 27 days until LSU’s season-opener against Wisconsin, let’s continue our Countdown to Gameday by looking at a player on the current team who wears No. 27 and is LSU’s most experienced skill player on offense, but is also the most often overlooked - Kenny Hilliard. Heading into his senior season, Hilliard has played in 37 games, which is considerably more than any running back, quarterback, or wide receiver on the team, although he has only started in one game throughout his career. This year, freshmen Leonard Fournette and Darrell Williams, along with fellow senior Terrance Magee, have overshadowed Hilliard, but don’t underestimate this bruising runner’s importance to a Tiger backfield that is likely to employ a “committee” approach to its running game. Last season, Hillard rushed for 310 yards and seven touchdowns on 68 carries for a respectable average of 4.55 yards per rush, and he seemed to find his niche as a downhill power back in short yardage situations. Look for more of that this year from the nephew of former LSU and New Orleans Saints standout running back Dalton Hilliard. (In doing research for this report, I came across these video highlights of Hilliard’s freshman and sophomore campaign that are really impressive. Makes me realize just how deep this year’s Tiger backfield will be.)
I’ll leave you today with a few good reads to go along with your Sunday morning coffee:
Reader Comments: Scott, here’s something to share with your readers: Sean Ochinko, who played on the 2009 National Championship team, is moving up the minor league system. At the end of last season, Sean was in the AAA Blue Jay affiliate in Buffalo when he received a suspension that lasted into this season. Just 72 hours before the end of his suspension while training in Florida he was badly injured when hit in the head with a ball thrown by a teammate while practicing a relay drill. Fifty-eight games later, Sean was released to play and was sent to the AA team in New Hampshire. His last game in AA he had a homer and a single and was moved back to AAA in Buffalo. In his first game back, Sean went 2 for 4 with a game tying home run in the 7th inning. This kid has really responded to his suspension and life-threatening injury and deserves all LSU fan support as he moves toward the bigs.
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