Clyde Edwards-Helaire believes that you — the Louisiana resident — know who he is.
You know Nick Brossette, too, he says. They’re all Louisiana guys, all record-setting players in the Bayou State, all notable faces here.
They’re all so unfamiliar to those outside of this state, Edwards-Helaire admits. That’s about to change, they say.
“Now," Edwards-Helaire said, "it’s time to show the country.”
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Video by Mike Gegenheimer / Special to The Advocate
LSU conducted its second practice of the spring Tuesday with noticeable absences in the backfield. No Derrius Guice. No Darrel Williams.
The only Fournette in the backfield was named Lanard, the younger brother of Leonard. The only guy with more than nine career carries and more than 31 career rushing yards is Brossette (46 for 306). And the only back with a rushing touchdown is … there is not a back with a rushing touchdown.
The school claims it to be the first time since at least 1974 that no returning LSU running back has scored a touchdown. You don’t have to remind them of this. Brossette and Edwards-Helaire are well aware of fans’ concerns over returning rushing production.
“To be honest, I don’t really listen to that. I haven’t been reading anything on the internet,” Brossette said. “I don’t care what they say.”
This angst is coming from his own coach, too. Ed Orgeron in November called his running back future a “worry” and claimed Sunday that his offense won’t be “featured” by a running back until one is found.
Signs that LSU’s offense is moving away from the ground-and-pound are everywhere. New coordinator Steve Ensminger made mention at his introductory news conference that his scheme will lean on passing and rely on the squad’s strength: the receivers.
All of it is motivation for these two Baton Rouge boys, Brossette (University) and Edwards-Helaire (Catholic). They’re 1-2 in the pecking order, sort-of 2018’s version of Guice and Williams — except, of course, without all those yards and touchdowns.
In three years at LSU, Brossette has averaged about one carry a game.
“It’s a process,” he said. “I had to just be patient. One thing I learned, everything can’t happen right at that moment.”
But he’s “glad to be in this position,” he said. What position is that? For now, he’s the No. 1 back, something Orgeron announced earlier this month.
Turn back the clock.
LSU, though, is a long way from deciding a pecking order. Tae Provens, a 6-foot, 187-pound 2018 signee from Alabama, joined the trio in January as a mid-year enrollee. And Chris Curry, a Florida tailback, is set to enroll this summer.
They will all compete in a scheme that is different from years past. Edwards-Helaire shines some light on that Tuesday.
“Right now, the runs plays we have are designed for a fast-moving offense, designed to spread the field,” he said.
All eyes are on the senior Brossette and sophomore Edwards-Helaire. The two “got close” upon Edwards-Helaire’s arrival last summer. They describe themselves as best friends, each with a different set of skills.
Edwards-Helaire has a lower center of gravity, a shifty runner self-described “fireball" who needed last season to learn Brossette’s strength, patience.
Brossette learned something, too: Don’t let a lost fumble affect your season. One of the more scrutinized plays of 2017, Brossette fumbled on LSU’s first offensive snap in an eventual loss to Troy.
“It happened. I can’t harp on it,” he said. “At first, I was down, but at the end of the day I got over it and my teammates picked me up.”
For Edwards-Helaire, the 2017 season is highlighted by two games: the season opener against BYU and the regular season finale against Texas A&M. Twenty-eight of his 31 rushing yards and all three of his receptions came in those two games.
His 27-yard reception against the Aggies included a shifty move to slide by a would-be tackler, and he rumbled inside the 5-yard line pushing three more defenders to the 1. He was “shaking” with excitement when he walked off the field.
“I put in thousands of hours of work for 5 seconds of fame. It was totally worth it,” he said. “That’s something I’ll never forget.”
Edwards-Helaire wants more of those. And he believes himself and the rest of the LSU backs are about to deliver.
“We have to hold that torch up and give praise to those guys who went before us. Jeremy (Hill), Leonard Fournette, (Derrius Guice),” he said. “Being able to fill those shoes … we’re going to make it happen.”
Mike Gegenheimer contributed to this report.
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