Drew Alleman has some really big — and really accurate — shoes to fill this season.
He’s replacing the most accurate kicker in LSU history — Josh Jasper, who had the second-highest career field-goal percentage (83.9, 47-of-56) in Southeastern Conference history.
“Jasper is probably the best kicker ever to come here. Everybody knows that,” Alleman said. “I look at it as I’m stepping into big shoes, but I also have to look at it as, it’s me, it’s my turn. I can’t try to be as good or better. I’ve just got to do what I do, and whatever that turns out to be is what it turns out to be.”
Alleman is three years removed from a standout career at Acadiana High in Lafayette. He was the top kicking prospect in Louisiana and one of the top ones in the country as a senior in 2007.
He redshirted as a freshman and backed up Jasper and punter Derek Helton for two seasons, appearing in just three games. He filled in for an injured Helton against Tulane two years ago, punting twice for an average of 25.5 yards with one of the punts being downed inside the 20.
Alleman got his feet wet on kickoffs last season, booting four against Louisiana-Monroe and three against McNeese State, averaging 63.4 yards overall.
When LSU opens the season against Oregon on Saturday in Arlington, Texas, Alleman will handle place-kicks and kickoffs and might even punt. He’s locked in a competition with Brad Wing and D.J. Howard for that duty.
“Drew is doing good. I’m comfortable with how he’ll kick it for us both in kickoffs and placements,” coach Les Miles said. “It would be a little premature to say that he is going to be as good as Jasper, but I think he is going to have a very good year.
“The one thing he’s been able to do is kick the ball down the middle of the field with great hang time. That will help us with our attack kickoff team.”
Alleman, who kicked a 32-yard field as time expired to give Acadiana a 13-10 victory against Sulphur in the Class 5A state championship game in the Superdome at the end of his junior season, hasn’t attempted a field goal or extra point in a competitive game in three years.
“Coming in as a freshman, you always want to play,” Alleman said. “You play this game that you love the most, and you want to get out there and show what you can do, but you have kickers before you that did the same thing. Jasper did a great job, and I’m glad to say I was Jasper’s backup. He was an awesome kicker.”
Alleman said he has worked in practice to continue to develop as a kicker even though he has hardly gotten on the field.
“As a kicker you go out to practice and you have to put your mindset like this kick here is a game-winner against Oregon or Alabama,” he said. “You always compete, and at practice you’ve got to get your mind set and be ready to go.”
Just as Alleman is being broken in as Jasper’s replacement, Wing is being broken in as Helton’s replacement as the holder regardless of how the punting duties are handled.
“With Jasper and Helton leaving, it’s our turn to step out on the dance floor and get after it,” Alleman said. “We’ve been working together since we stepped out there in spring practice, and he’s really come a long ways, and he’s a really good holder.”
Wing said he has had to get ready for “a lot of focus, a lot of technical work” to be the holder.
“I’ve had hundreds of reps with that, and I’m enjoying it and coming along pretty good at it,” Wing said. “Derek has helped me out with that and (snapper) Joey Crappell. That’s been the biggest challenge there, holding, because I’ve never had to do that before. That’s a big challenge, but I’ve really enjoyed it and working with Drew has been good.”
Alleman said he keeps in close contact with Jasper, who was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent, then released earlier this month.
“Just watching him gave me so much confidence,” Alleman said, “just talking to him and hanging out with him and not just in football but outside of football, becoming friends. He just gave me a load of confidence, and that’s really helping me.”
Alleman, who has inherited Jasper’s jersey number 30, said he’s ready if he’s called on to run out of punt formation, which Jasper did successfully three times last season, gaining a first down each time and a total of 45 yards.
“You never know what we’re going to throw at you,” Alleman said.
How well Alleman kicks or punts or even runs compared to Jasper is something he can’t afford to worry about even though outsiders undoubtedly will.
“People are asking, is he good enough (to replace Jasper)?” Alleman said. “I just put that off to the side. I’m not going to worry about that. I’m going to go out there and do my job the best I can do it.”