Ethan Pocic appears to have landed a starting job — at least for the first game.
Pocic, a 6-foot-7, 300-pound sophomore from Illinois, has a good shot at starting in place of Elliott Porter in LSU’s season opener against Wisconsin on Aug. 30.
“Ethan Pocic will play in the first game, if not start,” coach Les Miles said on his radio show Wednesday night.
At least one entity is confident Pocic will get the starting nod in the season opener.
Core 6 Athletes, an athletic recruiting network that worked with Pocic, tweeted Wednesday that the sophomore from Illinois will start in the season opener against Wisconsin.
It’s unclear if Pocic has won the job over Porter or if Porter is suffering from an injury. Miles does not reveal injuries. The two players waged a battle at center during preseason camp last year, with Porter winning the gig. Pocic played in six games in 2013 and started against Furman for an injured Porter.
Miles has raved about Pocic during camp, saying he’ll receive a lot of playing time this year. It appears that he might be LSU’s starter, at least early on, at the center position.
Porter, a senior from Waggaman, started 12 games last season and played in 10 more the year before that. He transferred from Kentucky in 2011.
Pocic is trained and can play all five offensive line spots, coaches and players say. He’s been lauded as a smart and solid player who has a bright future, possibly at left tackle.
Senior left tackle La’el Collins, left guard Vadal Alexander, Porter and right tackle Jerald Hawkins are returning starters on the line. Hoko Fanaika seems to have the edge in a competition for the right guard spot with Evan Washington.
Both QBs will play
Miles gave stronger comments Wednesday during his radio show that LSU will play both quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris in the season opener against the Badgers.
“I would be surprised if both quarterbacks didn’t play in the first game,” Miles said.
He later added: “Both of our quarterbacks are going to play.”
The starter in the first game won’t necessarily be the one who gets more snaps or starts the rest of the season, Miles said.
The player who coaches choose to start will be told of the decision Thursday of game week, Miles said Tuesday night.
Harris and Jennings have been battling through the first two-plus weeks of preseason camp for the job vacated by Zach Mettenberger. Miles has made the quarterbacks off limits to reporters except for interviews during the team’s media day Aug. 10. He has also withheld scrimmage stats from either quarterback.
All scrimmages and practices have been closed to reporters since Aug. 8. Players, during interviews, have revealed little about the competition.
When speaking about the safety position Wednesday, Miles did not mention junior Jalen Mills. He said senior Ronald Martin, freshman Jamal Adams and sophomore Rickey Jefferson are playing at safety.
Mills, arrested in June for allegedly punching a woman during an incident in May, had a summer-long suspension end on the first day of fall camp Aug. 4. That same day, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore charged Mills with simple battery, a misdemeanor. The case is ongoing, and Mills plans to plead not guilty.
Mills’ situation is similar to that of running back Jeremy Hill last year. Hill missed the first five quarters of the season in an unannounced suspension.
Luke Boyd, possibly the only active Marine playing Division I football, will wear No. 1 this season, he announced through Twitter on Wednesday. Boyd walked on to the LSU football team last fall. … LSU is set to practice at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The Tigers will practice Saturday and take off Sunday before the first game week arrives Monday. All practices are closed to the public and media.