John Diarse doesn’t think of himself as strictly an outside receiver. He’s not an inside, or slot, receiver either.
In offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s offense, no one is restricted to one receiver spot.
“It makes the offense go a lot faster when you don’t have to move guys from one side of the field to the other side of the field,” Diarse said.
In reality, though, each of LSU’s receivers plays one spot more than the other, but Diarse, a redshirt freshman from Monroe, is known as a guy who can rotate from the slot to the wideout spot and can play on the left and right.
Meanwhile, Travin Dural, Malachi Dupre, Avery Peterson and Quantavius Leslie seem to be getting many of their reps at wideout. Freshman Trey Quinn has been lining up more at the slot.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Quinn has impressed enough in fall camp that there are rumblings he could play early and often. That doesn’t mean all of this was a piece of cake.
“Speed, strength, playbook…pretty much anything that involves football has been an adjustment,” Quinn said on LSU media day Aug. 10, the one day true freshmen were allowed to speak with reporters.
It’s made things, maybe, more difficult with having two quarterbacks distributing the ball to the group of receivers expected to have a starting role.
LSU’s quarterback battle between Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris affects the surrounding positions as well.
“Anything we do, you always practice two guys,” receivers coach Adam Henry said. “With one snap, either guy could be in. As a receiver, you better form a bond with both quarterbacks. In one play, you could be playing with the next one.”
Welcome to the SEC
After becoming LSU’s starting fullback midway through last season, Connor Neighbors was also given an opportunity to start on special teams.
On the Tigers’ first kickoff at Mississippi State, he barreled downfield and tried to split a double-team block — and quickly found himself on his back.
“We had been working on that technique all week long,” Neighbors said. “I ran down and saw a gap and it was like, ‘I’m going to split them and go down and make the tackle.’
“But they kind of baited me, so when I turned my shoulder, I got hit in the back and then got hit in the front and just got laid out,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t quit on the play; I just got back up and chased the runner.”
He said it was his only Southeastern Conference welcome of the season.
“It’s a pretty even playing field out there,” Neighbors said. “I work my tail off to make sure it’s like that, and sometimes, I have the upper hand.”
The beard legacy
Neighbors is sporting a bushy black beard like former LSU fullback J.C. Copeland, who is now with the Dallas Cowboys, did last season.
“Sometimes I get general comments about it, but most of the media think I’m trying to be like J.C. — that he left a legacy with me growing it out,” Neighbors said. “I’m just expressing myself the best way I know how without getting into trouble.”