LSU coach Les Miles answered questions about two of the school’s latest controversies Saturday after his football team had its first spring football practice.
Miles said he hasn’t been following the situation regarding the lawsuit filed by former defensive coordinator John Chavis against the school and didn’t know exactly what was transpiring. Chavis is coaching at Texas A&M.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said.
On another hot topic, Miles admitted he doesn’t know what he could have done differently in the recruitment of Matt Womack, an early enrollee signee who signed a Financial Aid Agreement but then decommitted from LSU, leading to sanctions being handed down to the school from the NCAA. Womack landed at Alabama.
“We signed a guy who committed to us, to come to us,” Miles said. “Then he decided, really in his home, that he was thinking about not taking the English course that was going to allow him to come early to LSU. At that point in time, we went back to our compliance officers and they said ‘Cease and desist on recruiting him.’ So we couldn’t even call or recruit the guy. So he went to another school, which is punishment enough. Anyway ... I didn’t quite know how to handle it any differently than we did.”
Valentine in limbo
Though he’s now escaped all of the eligibility issues that plagued him last season, defensive tackle Travonte Valentine was nowhere to be found Saturday morning.
Miles said it is a discipline issue. More specifically: academic infractions.
“He’s not a guy we’re counting on at this point,” Miles said. “For now.”
After his news conference ended, Miles confirmed the punishment is all from LSU and Valentine’s eligibility is no longer in question. The 6-foot-4, Hialeah, Fla. defensive tackle is listed on LSU’s most updated spring roster and took to Twitter on Saturday to share his feelings.
“I don’t even know anymore!,” Valentine tweeted.
“We have insisted he do some things academically that he failed to do,” Miles said after his news conference. “We’re doing everything we can to assist him.”
Miles confirmed safety Devin Voorhies and receiver Tony Upchurch have switched positions. Voorhies will play linebacker while Upchurch, who weighs in at 230 pounds, has shifted to fullback.
“We’ve put him at fullback,” Miles said of Upchurch. “I think he’ll be a lot better there. He weighed 252 the last coaching workout we did in the morning. We feel his skills are better there and he jumped in there. He compares favorably.”
Malone, McMillan get praise
Miles heaped praise on two youngsters — early quarterback enrollee Justin McMillan and sophomore K.J. Malone — expecting both to be a factor in the spring.
Though he made it clear the quarterback battle would still rage between Harris and Jennings, Miles gushed over McMillan, a Cedar Hill, Texas native, after Saturday’s first practice.
“Justin McMillan can throw it and is a very comfortable quarterback prospect,” Miles said. “For me not to mention him in the question is probably a mistake.”
“I like his arm. I think he’s a very comfortably built decision-maker at quarterback. He’s a true freshman, and we like to bring those guys along, but never say never.”
Miles mentioned Malone, a sophomore from Ruston and the son of NBA legend Karl Malone, before any other player when discussing the youth and depth of his offensive line.
“I think K.J. Malone is going to be a starter at some place,” Miles said. “I think he’ll be a starter at left guard, or starter at right tackle or left tackle if needed. He’s going to be a very good player for us.”