It’s only been four days since LSU’s fall camp kicked off, and the comparisons are already being brought up in conversation.
Malachi Dupre’s speed and athleticism cause flashbacks of an agile Odell Beckham Jr. flying down the sideline in Tiger Stadium. Trey Quinn’s hands and route running bring memories of Jarvis Landry snagging passes in tight coverage on third downs.
While being associated with the first two 1,000-yard receivers in LSU history is high praise for the young Tigers’ receiving corps, sophomore Travin Dural said the current group of wideouts will make its own mark in 2014.
Dural said the main difference between the current receivers and last season’s company is the speed factor — with himself, Dupre, senior Quantavius Leslie and redshirt freshmen Avery Peterson and John Diarse, LSU boasts one of its swiftest receiving corps in recent memory.
One other factor loomed in Dural’s mind, though.
“Last year, those guys had their confidence built up because they all played before,” Dural said. “We’re building confidence every day as we work together. There were two main guys last year, but we’re trying to have four or five this season.”
LSU is currently working with a combination that will be an early obstacle to overcome: having two underclassmen at quarterback while having only two upperclassmen wideouts.
Considering Dural has only caught one pass from sophomore signal caller Anthony Jennings — the 49-yard touchdown strike to defeat Arkansas last season — there is still plenty of chemistry that remains to be developed throughout fall camp.
Add in that two starting wide receiver jobs are still there for the taking, and coach Les Miles has quite the evaluation to perform in the coming weeks.
“It’s a competition, and I like it,” Leslie said. “Even though (the freshman receivers are) young, they don’t play like they’re young. They play like upperclassmen out there.”
Though Leslie is the oldest of the bunch, he’s only made one career reception for the Tigers, an 11-yard catch against UAB.
Early in camp, Leslie has shown improved hands during individual drills, putting him in the running to finally break through as a starting candidate come opening weekend against Wisconsin.
Even Peterson, whom Dural called the fastest wideout of the group, has impressed through the first few days of August as he looks to come back strong from a broken ankle that forced him to miss his entire rookie campaign.
As Peterson has taken the field over the past week, he’s found himself being one of the older players, though he has the same amount of game experience as his younger squad mates.
“It does kind of feel weird because now I’m kind of in a leadership role,” Peterson said. “All of us are young. We only have two receivers who played last year.”
With so much talent at his fingertips, Miles didn’t appear concerned about the roster decisions that lie ahead.
“I like our talent,” Miles said. “It’s going to be interesting to see the guys who step into certain plays and have a frequency on the field. We’re going to be able to throw the football.”
At the end of the day, the 2014 receiving corps will likely be under constant watch from the Tigers’ fan base. Replacing talents like Beckham and Landry will be a hurdle Miles has yet to face during his tenure in Baton Rouge.
The bar was set last season, and the current receivers are very aware of that fact.
“(Beckham and Landry) left big shoes for one, and they left a mark,” Dural said. “They set a standard that not too many receivers have done here. The fans have seen two 1,000-yard receivers, and they’re not going to settle for anything less.”