HOOVER, Ala. — Brandon Harris has been taking advantage of his competitor’s time away from LSU’s starting quarterback battle, but Anthony Jennings may be back soon enough.
LSU coach Les Miles said he is “optimistic” that the team’s four suspended players will return, and that includes his incumbent starter, Jennings, at the team’s most important position. The Tigers’ much-publicized quarterback battle isn’t far from restarting.
“Eventually, both guys will be on the team,” Miles said Thursday during LSU’s time at Southeastern Conference Media Days. “Confident in both guys. I think there are some advantages Brandon has had. Have to see how that works out. Competition will decide who starts.”
Jennings has been suspended since his arrest June 18 for unauthorized entry into a dwelling. Jennings, defensive back Dwayne Thomas and defensive lineman Maquedius Bain allegedly walked into a fellow student’s apartment to retrieve items they claim were stolen from Jennings the week before. Jennings filed a police report for the stolen items a few days before the incident.
Thomas also was booked on a simple burglary charge. Offensive lineman Jevonte Domond, a reserve junior-college transfer, was arrested in May for felony domestic abuse battery.
Miles suggested Wednesday that all four will return to the team. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore has not formally charged any of the suspended players.
“I don’t want to come in front of the legal process here. From what I know, it appears to be something that has resolution,” Miles said. “Legal process is not done yet.”
In the meantime, Harris has the team to himself. For nearly a month, he has operated as the Tigers’ starting quarterback while Jennings is on suspension. Miles said Jennings has not participated in any summer workouts.
“The extra throws that Brandon has gotten has helped him, 7-on-7s and all of the things he’s done that summer,” Miles said. “Players say that (Harris) played well. I’m not saying they’re making a decision, but it is certainly a positive piece.”
Coaches are not allowed to instruct voluntary summer workouts. Strength and conditioning staff members oversee summer drills.
Players have taken notice of Harris.
“Brandon has been doing a great job, man,” linebacker Kendell Beckwith said. “Being a great leader. Really get those guys going. He gets on them. It was kind of surprising. I didn’t expect Brandon to get on somebody the way he does. He’s really been working hard, making crisp passes. He’s been making some great passes, been putting some balls in some windows like I haven’t seen.”
“Even before things happened with Anthony, he was doing the same thing,” said senior Vadal Alexander, who has settled in as LSU’s right tackle. “I see a big difference in their maturity, growth and their development.”
Jennings and the other suspended players are still around: Running back Leonard Fournette said they attend practice but don’t participate. Jennings has helped Harris throughout the past month while he has been suspended, Fournette said.
“It takes a man to do that,” Fournette said.
After news of the arrests surfaced, Miles called a meeting with players. The team, Alexander said, met with Jennings, Thomas and Bain.
“It was hard when we found out the whole situation that happened. We had a meeting with Coach Miles. He handled it,” Fournette said. “We had to move on, even though we miss them.”
Alexander said he has spoken to Jennings one-on-one.
“He’s doing good,” Alexander said. “We’re keeping his spirits up and telling him everything’s going to be OK.”
Fournette has done more than speak to Harris.
“He’s my roommate,” the running back said. “After every practice, I see him every day. He asks me what I think he did. Give him feedback. He’s getting better. Anthony is still helping him.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.