Whenever LSU coach Les Miles is asked which freshmen are standing out in fall camp, Terrence Magee’s name seems to find its way into the response.
If Magee, a converted quarterback from Franklinton, keeps going the way he has been, he might find his way into a contributing role at a position that features three more experienced players in front of him.
Spencer Ware is at the top of the depth chart, but he’s followed closely by fellow sophomores Alfred Blue and Michael Ford. Then there’s Magee, whom Miles singled out again after Saturday’s scrimmage.
“I just see him as a tough, mature young player,” Miles said, “and I think he’s a guy that will learn and compete and be the kind of back that we’ll need and want for a long time.”
Magee said he’s trying to keep the early positive reviews in perspective.
“It feels good to hear he believes in me, but I have to still go out there and show him,” Magee said. “I have a lot of people in front of me who have been here, and they know (what to do). I just have to be patient and learn. It’s a competition, but then we’re a group. That’s the beauty of the thing.
“I looked at (fall camp) as an opportunity to come in and prove myself and show that I deserve to play. I’ve done what I’ve expected to do. I still feel I can do more, but I’m just going to come in, keep working hard, keep proving myself and working to get better on a daily basis.”
Magee led Franklinton to a 14-1 record and the Class 4A state championship last season. In the title game he rushed for 126 yards and passed for 203 yards and was named the Demons’ Most Outstanding Player of the game. That was the exclamation point on a senior season in which Magee was named the Class 4A Most Outstanding Offensive Player in the state by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. He rushed for 1,370 yards and 19 touchdowns, averaging 8.6 yards per carry. He passed for 2,634 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Being a full-time running back isn’t all that different, Magee said.
“You’re just going out and playing football, man,” he said. “In high school, I ran the ball, and it’s the same thing here. The only thing different is you’re taking a handoff (not a snap), and what you do after you get the ball is the same. I feel it’s pretty easy.”
Miles said quarterbacks have to be team players, and he sees that attribute in Magee, who could fill multiple roles.
“I can run between the tackles,” Magee said, “I can swing out and catch the ball, so I pretty much feel like I can play on every down, just because I’m versatile. And because I was a quarterback I can even throw the ball out of the backfield.”
Magee said his experience as a quarterback makes it easier for him to understand the blocking schemes.
“In high school, I called out the protection,” he said. “I knew where everybody was blocking. As far as picking up the blocking scheme, that’s easy. The ability to know what the defense is going to do before it happens helps you a whole lot, because you know what to do when you get the ball.”
Magee, who was a pitcher and center fielder in baseball and earned an honorable all-state selection, said he has concentrated more on lifting weights recently, especially to strengthen his upper body. He carried 190 pounds on his 5-foot-9 frame in spring practice, but weighed in at 205 early in fall camp.
“I always lifted hard,” Magee said, “but because I was a quarterback and I pitched I didn’t lift upper body as much, just because I had to use my arm a lot. So that’s what I did more of, because I had to start preparing my body for a lot more contact, because at the running back position, you take a beating.
“It’s different, because during high school in practice, you didn’t make contact all the time, playing quarterback. Now, I’m just getting used to making contact all the time. I’m preparing my body for that.”
Magee said he doesn’t feel any pressure even as he’s trying to carve out a contributing role as a true freshman on a team with national championship aspirations.
“I’ve been doing this all my life,” he said. “There’s no reason to stress over something you just come out and do on a daily basis. Football is just something that comes naturally. You go out there, and you do it. Like Peyton Manning said, if you feel pressure, you just don’t know what you’re doing.”
Advocate assistant sports editor Joseph Schiefelbein contributed to this report.