Jack McKneely was not going to let his recent knee surgery make him miss LSU’s football fan day Saturday.
McKneely, 50, of Lake Charles, had his right knee replaced about three weeks ago. His leg was in a brace, and he needed a walker to help him get around LSU’s indoor track stadium, the Carl Maddox Field House.
To view a photo gallery of the day’s events, click here: http://theadvocate.com/multimedia/photos/588266-93/lsu-fan-day-photo-gallery.html
But there he was, getting a poster signed by LSU football coach Les Miles.
“We were definitely coming today,” said McKneely, whose nephew, Travis, went with him.
McKneely was one of thousands of fervent Tiger fans to jam into the Maddox Field House and Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday for LSU’s annual fan bonanza.
“I’ve been coming since 1995,” McKneely said. “I’ve put up with all those hot ones in Tiger Stadium.”
The Field House and PMAC hosted the football fan day for the second consecutive year. It was held downtown at the Baton Rouge River Center for two years before that.
Senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent said the athletic department wanted to bring the event back to LSU.
“We like it being here on campus,” Vincent said.
The football team was split between the two facilities - offensive players and coaches in the Field House with Miles, defensive and special-teams players and coaches in the PMAC.
Long lines built in front of the two buildings well before the doors opened. Some people got there as early as 5:15 a.m.
That passionate group consisted of Jessy Roberts, 28, of Springfield, and Devin Roussel, 25, and Brooke Gorham, 26, both of Dutchtown.
“We woke up at 4,” Roberts said.
The trio headed straight for the Miles line as soon as the doors opened, as did most fans.
Jim and Helen Favaron also got autographs from Miles - and they traveled a long way to do so.
The Favarons, who live in Kerrville, Texas, drove all the way from San Antonio after their daughter’s wedding the day before.
“We got (to Baton Rouge) around 6 a.m.,” Helen Favaron said.
Among players, LSU’s quarterbacks drew the longest line of fans waiting to see the Tigers.
Darryl Dahlquist, 50, and his son, Logan, 16, acquired autographs from all six quarterbacks.
“We’re going to try to get everybody,” Darryl Dahlquist said.
The elder Dahlquist also had a special goodbye message for the quarterbacks after he had collected their autographs.
“See you in New Orleans,” he said to Jefferson as he walked away - referring to LSU’s lofty preseason rankings and hopes of playing in the BCS national championship game in the Superdome.
Football players weren’t the only athletes signing autographs, though.
LSU’s volleyball and women’s soccer teams signed autographs in the PMAC. Cheerleaders did the same in the Field House.
Kourtney, Carroll, 11, and Kristian Carroll, 15, scored autographs from soccer team members. They are from Maryland but attended fan day with their grandparents, Kelly and Lucy Edwards, who live in Central.
Kourtney Carroll said she is a big soccer fan.
“I like that they can play offense and defense,” Kourtney Carroll said.
But the soccer team wasn’t the only reason the group went to campus Saturday, Lucy Edwards said.
“The soccer team, the football team, the Tigers - we’re just excited about LSU,” she said.
Mike the Tiger - the costumed version, not the live animal - signed autographs in both buildings. He began his day in the Field House.
Stephen Campbell, 55, started his autograph collection Saturday at Mike’s table, after arriving on campus dressed as if it was game day.
Campbell’s face was painted with a gold stripe down the middle and purple on both sides. He also brought a purple-and-gold duck call, blowing it as he waited in line.
Campbell, who drove in from Mitti, Texas, west of DeRidder, with his son-in-law, Frankie Deville, brought a purple LSU apron with him for Mike to sign.
“I like to be enthused by Mike,” Campbell said after he obtained the mascot tiger’s autograph. “He brings out spirit.”