LSU coach Les Miles said Wednesday night that he “absolutely" expects reinstated quarterback Jordan Jefferson to contribute to the team, conceivably as soon as the game against Kentucky on Saturday morning in Tiger Stadium.
“I can’t imagine he’d be ready to play this Saturday,” Miles said, “but I wouldn’t rule it out.”
Jefferson and reserve linebacker Josh Johns were reinstated Wednesday shortly after an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury indicted Jefferson on a misdemeanor charge of simple battery rather than second-degree battery, a felony, and declined to press any charges against Johns.
Jefferson was the starting quarterback until he and Johns were arrested Aug. 26 and booked on one count each of second-degree battery stemming from a fight outside Shady’s bar, 623 E. Boyd Drive, a week earlier.
In Jefferson’s absence, senior quarterback Jarrett Lee has helped lead the Tigers to a 4-0 record and the No. 1 ranking in the latest Associated Press Top 25.
“Right now Jarrett Lee is our starting quarterback,” Miles said. “What we would want to do is add a skill set. There would be an opportunity just like a year ago when Lee played in (10 games). There would be that opportunity for Jordan Jefferson.”
Jefferson, a senior who has a 20-7 record as a starter over the last three seasons, will become the No. 2 quarterback ahead of sophomore Zach Mettenberger, who played the second half of a 49-3 victory against Northwestern State three weeks ago.
Though Lee has played well, he does not have the running ability that Jefferson possesses, so Jefferson’s return gives the Tigers an opportunity to run a wider variety of plays.
“I think there is an opportunity to increase our productivity on offense,” Miles said, “which would be for Jarrett Lee to continue doing what he has done and Jordan Jefferson to come into the game and do what he can do most significantly.”
Miles said Jefferson’s return, Lee’s play so far and the experience Mettenberger got in Jefferson’s absence makes the Tigers “better at quarterback than we have ever been.”
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva announced the players’ reinstatement in a statement issued by the university.
“We certainly don’t condone participation in the incident,” Alleva said, “but the legal system has determined that their actions did not rise to the level originally charged, and their punishment to date related to football has already been considerable.”