LSU kickoff man Hairston plans transfer _lowres

Advocate file photo by BILL FEIG -- LSU place-kicker James Hairston kicks off against Ole Miss laSt season at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss. Hairston transferred to Rice in hopes of adding field goals to his kickoff duties.

LSU kickoff specialist James Hairston plans to transfer after graduating in May, the school confirmed on Friday.

Hairston, a rising senior, has been the primary handler of LSU’s kickoffs over the previous three seasons. Hairston wants a shot at kicking field goals, his reason for transferring, team spokesman Michael Bonnette said.

He will not participate in spring practice, which begins Saturday.

The NCAA allows graduates to transfer and be eligible the next season, avoiding the usual one-year probationary period.

Hairston, a Dallas native, is likely to end up at a Texas school.

Hairston has kicked all of LSU’s kickoffs the last two seasons. He handled the kickoff duties in 11 of 14 games during his true freshman season in 2011.

Forty-five of Hairston’s 86 kickoffs last season went for a touchbacks and he had a 63-yard average.

Colby Delahoussaye, a freshman walk-on, won the job kicking field goals last season. He made 13 of 14 attempts.

Hairston’s absence leaves the kickoff job open to a group of players, including Delahoussaye, signee Cameron Gamble, sophomore Trent Dominque and redshirt freshman Alex Kjellsten.

“I love LSU, my teammates and classmates,” Hairston said in a statement through the schools. “I’m going to pursue a Master’s Degree and hope to kick field goals my last year.”

Mettenberger ‘getting to 100 percent’

Former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger’s recovery from knee surgery continues to go well and he plans to throw passes at the school’s pro day April 9, he said during interviews Friday on ESPN SportsCenter.

Mettenberger had two appearances on SportsCenter on Friday morning, mainly to discuss his recovery from knee surgery in January. He suffered a torn ACL and MCL during LSU’s regular season finale against Arkansas.

“It feels great,” he said of the knee. “I’m able to run and do a drop and throw and everything. I’m not 100 percent yet, but I’m getting there.”

Mettenberger is training in New Jersey instead of choosing a warm location, as many players do. Why?

“I kind of want to be like Rocky training for Ivan in the snow,” he said referencing the 1980’s hit.

Alleva: no to nine

LSU athletic director Joe Alleva is against the Southeastern Conference expanding to a nine-game conference football schedule. League teams currently play eight.

The conference is expected to decide whether to expand by the SEC spring meetings in May, reported in a story Friday.

Alleva told that he’s against nine games and that permanent cross-division games are likely to remain in place. LSU’s permanent cross-division opponent is Florida.