Les Miles admitted what’s been obvious for days now: Sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris has the lead in LSU’s quarterback competition with junior Anthony Jennings.
“Right now, Brandon Harris certainly has the lead,” Miles said Tuesday, speaking to reporters after the final scrimmage of preseason practice. “We like both of our guys. Brandon Harris is certainly the leader at this point.”
Harris, a highly touted Bossier City native who struggled in his one start as a true freshman in 2014, has been receiving the majority of first-string snaps since preseason practice began Aug. 6. Players and coaches have raved about Harris’ progression through the summer and during camp.
There have been other obvious signs that Harris in the lead. Miles refused to name a leader until Tuesday, though.
“He’s put himself in position based on a summer’s body of work,” Miles said. “He’s continued that path.”
LSU opens the season Sept. 5 against McNeese State. The coach has declined to name a starter for that game and suggested a week ago that he may wait until game week to make that announcement.
Harris seems to have achieved the edge during summer workouts. Jennings, who started 12 of 13 games last season and completed just 48.9 percent of his passes, was suspended for six weeks this summer for a June arrest. It left him unable to participate in voluntary, player-run 7-on-7 drills. Harris spent that time meshing with receivers and building chemistry with the group.
Mills out ‘at least six weeks’
Jalen Mills’ injury is more severe than first thought.
Mills, a senior starting safety, had surgery on his injured lower leg, Miles said Tuesday. A source said the surgery pushes back the timeline for his return to “at least” six weeks, putting Mills in line to possibly play Oct. 10 against South Carolina.
Mills needed a small rod inserted in the leg, another source said.
“I’m still harboring personal feelings that we can get him back sooner rather than later,” Miles said. “We don’t know exactly how soon.”
Miles declined to go into details about the surgery or the time frame for his return.
Mills’ mother told The Advocate last week that her son would miss two games and would not need surgery. That changed over the past few days, pushing back the comeback of one of the Tigers’ most experienced players.
Mills started all 39 games of his first three years at LSU before suffering the injury at an Aug. 19 practice when a lineman rolled on the ankle.
White in line for return job
Tre’Davious White recently posted a video of himself catching one punt, then another and then a third. Doesn’t sound too fascinating, right?
The LSU junior caught all three footballs within seconds of each other — and with the previous ball still in his arms.
“I can catch a lot more than that though,” a smiling White said at a recent interview.
White expects to be LSU’s starting punt returner again this season, but he’s fighting off highly touted young players. And he doesn’t plan on losing.
“I’m going to win it out,” White said. “If somebody wants to fight me for it, I’m willing to fight.”
Miles said Tuesday that White has the lead as punt returner.
Freshmen Donte Jackson and Derrius Guice and sophomore Trey Quinn are all competing at punt returner behind White. White averaged 10.9 yards a return last season, ranking him 14th nationally.
Guice and Jackson, along with Leonard Fournette, are returning kickoffs.
Quinn, who battled for the punt return gig last camp, posted last week a video to social media of him catching a punt behind his back. So White posted one of himself catching three. On the video from an LSU practice, White is seen smiling with the three footballs in his arms.
“Trey Quinn … he sort of challenged me with the punt returns, so I had to return (the video),” White said. “Nice, friendly competition.”
Eight Tigers on preseason All-SEC
LSU placed eight on the coaches preseason All-Southeastern Conference teams released Tuesday, including injured defensive back Mills.
Mills, right tackle Vadal Alexander and running back Leonard Fournette all made the first team. Cornerback White, linebacker Kendell Beckwith and punter Jamie Keehn made second team. Receiver Travin Dural and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux landed on the third team.
Fournette also made the second team in two positions: all-purpose player and return specialist. The Tigers’ 10 preseason All-SEC slots tie Alabama for the most of any school.
Walk-ons no more
LSU fullback J.D. Moore earned a scholarship, according to a video published on the school’s website Tuesday.
Moore walked on to LSU as a tight end before his move to fullback. He’s expected to start at fullback this season. Moore told reporters during preseason camp that he discussed the possibility of receiving a scholarship with Miles.
Kicker Trent Domingue also has indicated during camp that he’s set to receive a scholarship. He said he was optimistic about receiving one and that he too has discussed it with Miles.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.