LSU camp report: Quarterback competition begins in separate practices _lowres

Advocate staff photo by April Buffington -- LSU's quarterback Anthony Jennings throws the ball during practice on Monday, August 4.

While it’s anyone’s guess who will be LSU’s starting quarterback for the season opener against Wisconsin on Aug. 30 in Houston, Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris continued their competition in separate practices when preseason camp began Monday.

Jennings, a sophomore with one career start, worked in the morning practice with Jake Clise and Brad Kragthorpe. Harris, a freshman who enrolled in school early and participated in spring drills, and baseball player Jared Foster took snaps with the newcomers in the afternoon.

Jennings didn’t participate in a media interview session after the morning session.

LSU coach Les Miles has temporarily made all quarterbacks off limits to reporters until Sunday, the team’s media day, a spokesman said.

“I want them to relax and play football,” Miles said. “I don’t want (their progress) to be interfered with with the questions of, ‘What do you think?’ ‘How’s it going?’ ‘Where you at — first or second?’ ”

Wide receiver Travin Dural said Jennings was sharp in LSU’s first practice since the spring game April 5.

“He looked pretty good coming out of the summer,” Dural said. “You could tell he put in a lot of work and got better as a quarterback over the summer.

“We did seven-on-seven two times a week for two hours, sometimes three hours, so we put in a lot of work. When he came back (in June), he was more of a vocal leader, and he worked a lot harder than he ever did — to me. He threw the ball really well, and he showed it today.”

Heavier Hawkins

Jerald Hawkins is 11 pounds heavier and much more knowledgeable this time around.

After two years of being a “freshman,” Hawkins has crawled from under that title. He’s a redshirt sophomore now, and atop the depth chart at right tackle.

“I felt more comfortable,” Hawkins said after the Tigers’ first day of preseason camp. “I wasn’t hesitant. I know my things now. It’s just being confident and doing what you’re capable of doing. Matter of experience and maturity.”

He has added weight, too, despite what appeared to be a trim figure. He’s 308 pounds after playing at 297 last season, he said.

Thompson’s condition

Corey Thompson ran with the starting group at safety in the morning practice, opposite Ronald Martin.

Listed starting safety Rickey Jefferson practiced in the afternoon. Thompson, recovering from a knee injury, is reportedly at full strength, but Martin suggested Monday during interviews that he might not be 100 percent.

“He looks ready,” Martin said. “Hopefully he’ll get back up to 100 percent sometime during camp.”

Stacked secondary

LSU’s veteran defensive backs talked a lot this spring about the influx of talent the Tigers would have with the addition of three top freshmen: cornerback Ed Paris and safeties John Battle and Jamal Adams.

While Paris arrived on campus early and participated in spring drills, Battle and Adams have joined the fray for playing time with Martin, Thompson, Jefferson and fellow returnees Tre’Davious White, Rashard Robinson, Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins.

“It’s just going to get each and every one us better,” Martin said of the logjam. “It’s getting us game ready every day (in practice).”

Stepping in

With defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson having moved on to the NFL a year early, sophomore Christian LaCouture said he’s ready to try to fill some big shoes at the position along with junior Quentin Thomas.

LaCouture credited Ferguson and Johnson for helping get him through his true freshman season last year, which could pay dividends for the Tigers’ retooled defensive line.

“They were my mentors,” LaCouture said. “They helped if I did something wrong on film. If I didn’t get it right, they would always take a little extra time afterwards to stay with me. They were my role models, so I wish them the best in the league.”

A closer look at Monday’s practices

-- The two quarterbacks competing for the starting job — Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris — practiced at separate times. Jennings went in the morning (the mostly veterans group) and Harris in the afternoon (with mostly freshmen). They’ll swap for Tuesday’s split squad practices, with Harris going in the morning and Jennings in the afternoon.

-- Leonard Fournette, the top-ranked recruit in the nation, looked the part. He had the biggest thighs of any running backs in the afternoon practice and had a wide chest to go with them. Still, he’s young. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron barked orders at him about his ball-carrying.

-- A group of freshmen ran with the veterans in Monday’s morning practice. The list included safety Jamal Adams; wide receivers Malachi Dupre and Tony Upchurch; defensive linemen Davon Godchaux, Sione Teuhema and Deondre Clark; defensive back Russell Gage; and linebacker Clifton Garrett.