Last season, Quantavius Leslie arrived in Baton Rouge from Mississippi’s Hinds Community College looking to step up and be the No. 3 receiving option behind wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
When the year concluded, though, Leslie’s junior campaign ended with one reception — an 11-yard catch against UAB. The transition from junior college proved more difficult than he had imagined.
“Last year, I came in and hit my playbook, but I was still kind of confused on the offense because you have to read defenses,” Leslie said.
“It was difficult because in JUCO we ran the spread, so we just basically sat in a zone. Here, you have to really read the coverage from the cornerback to the safeties to the linebackers.”
Leslie said he worked heavily off the field, collecting “mental reps.”
Plenty of film work and heavy attention to detail on the practice field have given him the confidence he needs heading into the 2014 campaign. On a receiving corps where he is one of only two seniors, Leslie is primed to battle for a starting position throughout fall camp.
If last season proved anything to him, it’s there’s no room for error as a starter on the Tigers’ offense. He said there’s one key to consistently being on the field this season.
“I just have to continue to get better each and every day,” Leslie said. “You can’t get comfortable with settling for less. You’ve just got to shoot for the stars.”
During his freshman season, Kendall Beckwith was LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis’ experiment, getting work both in the trenches and with the linebacking corps.
After making the permanent move to middle linebacker, though, Beckwith has focused on getting in better shape for the position.
Last season, Beckwith said he played at about 252 pounds, but he’s down to 242 pounds so far in fall camp.
“Chief wanted me to be under 245, and that’s where I want to be anyway,” Beckwith said. “When I look back at the film, I think I was moving a little slower than I am. I think I’m a lot more explosive than I was when I had all that weight on.”
K.J. Malone went his own way. And that’s just fine with his dad, Karl Malone.
K.J. Malone, a 290-pound offensive guard, enters his redshirt freshman year at LSU still answering questions about his father. Doesn’t it get old?
“I’m cool with it,” he said.
“People always ask, ‘Why didn’t you play basketball?’ The reason I chose football is because my dad didn’t want me to,” Malone said. “He said, ‘I’ve already been there and done that,’ so he wanted me to do my own thing.”
A four-star recruit out of Ruston, Malone isn’t expected to see substantial playing time this year. He’s listed as No. 2 on the depth chart behind left guard Vadal Alexander.
Still, if he’s needed, Malone is more ready than he was this time last year. It all clicked in the spring, he said.
“Those practices, I got my technique down. I felt like, ‘OK, I’ve got this,’ ” he said.
and Ross Dellenger