LSU tight end Zach Sheffer (34) carries the ball between LSU linebacker Jared Small and LSU linebacker Jacob Phillips (6) at practice MArch 20.

Jacob Phillips and Tyler Taylor aren’t only challengers in one of the most hotly competitive battles for a starting job on the LSU football team.

They are roommates, too.

“We gained a great bond (last year), a brotherhood,” Phillips said. “Regardless of what happened, we’re still brothers.”

Phillips and Taylor are battling for the open starting position at Mack inside linebacker alongside Devin White, the All-American returning Rover. With three practices left until the April 21 spring game, Phillips appears to be making strides in a competition that Taylor won last year.

Phillips is even getting the first snaps next to White during some scrimmages. He’s making more tackles, too, according to statistics coach Ed Orgeron provides. Scrimmages are closed to reporters.

The improvements Phillips made late last season have extended to spring. In a rotating role with Taylor, he saw the most playing time of the regular season in Game 11 against Tennessee (30 snaps) and saw more time in the bowl game against Notre Dame.

“That game was a game where everything slowed down for me a lot,” he said of the bowl. “This year I’ve got to make sure that I know all the plays so I know what I’m doing. All those things will hopefully lead up to having a good season.”

The 6-3, 235-pound sophomore is feeling more comfortable than ever. He’s leaped some of the mental hurdles that put him third in the pecking order last season behind starter Donnie Alexander and Taylor.

White describes the battle between the roommates as “very intense,” and it is one that might not be settled until August. After all, this is a duel between two talents.

They both signed with LSU last February as top-10 ranked inside linebackers nationally, but they are different in style, White said. Taylor is more of a cerebral player, something defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has also indicated in the past. That gave him a leg up in the competition last fall when he started five games when Alexander was injured or suspended.

Phillips is “the faster one,” White said, who “plays with speed.” The mental aspect came along later in the year.

“As the year progressed, I became more comfortable, and coach Aranda trusted me more, trusted me more in knowing where to be and what to do when I am in,” Phillips said.

The two competitors aren’t rivals off the field. They share a residence, among many other things.

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“We help each other out when we can — at practice and in the weight room,” said Phillips, speaking to reporters for the first time since he enrolled at LSU. “Never any jealousy. We’re still brothers.”

'Student Day' next Thursday

LSU is welcoming students to practice Thursday in Tiger Stadium for its annual spring "Student Day."

The Tigers are scheduled to practice in shorts and helmets on Thursday from 4-5:30 p.m. After practice, LSU students will get a chance to take the field for several drills, including catching a punt, throwing a TD pass to an LSU football player and catching a touchdown pass from a Tiger. A jambalaya dinner will be served afterward, and students will tour the stadium locker room.

To be admitted to practice, students must present their LSU ID as they enter the Jeff Boss Locker Room.

Spring game festivities planned

Arrive early for the pregame block party. Stay late for the postgame autograph session.

Those are among the events planned around this year's LSU football spring game at Tiger Stadium. Admission to the game is free.

A block party is scheduled for 1 p.m. featuring the band Vidalia and activities for children. The football team walks down Victory Hill at 3:30 p.m., and the school plans to honor the six underclassmen who declared for the NFL draft just before the 5:03 p.m. kickoff. An hour-long interview session with players begins after the game.

The game is televised on SEC Network.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.