BR.lsufootballpractice.080618_184

LSU QB Myles Brennan (15) hands off to RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (22) in drills during LSU football practice Sunday.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire knows all too well who he’s following.

He has already followed him before.

“Going into high school, it was ‘Who’s going to be the running back behind (Derrius) Guice?’ ” said Edwards-Helaire, a sophomore running back at LSU. “And then afterwards, I felt like it’s identical.”

The timeline’s been well stated: Guice graduated from Catholic High in 2015 — two years before Edwards-Helaire— as one of the nation’s top running back prospects, then declared early for the NFL draft last season and was selected by the Washington Redskins in the second round, 59th overall.

Shadows get cast. Acts must be followed. It’s a standard order of operations, and Edwards-Helaire has already been a variable that found its independence.

“In 2013, (Edwards-Helaire) became the first freshman that I had coached there to play varsity football,” said former Catholic High head coach Dale Weiner, who retired in 2016 after 30 seasons. “He was the starting tailback on the freshman team as an eighth-grader. He just demonstrated that physically and emotionally, he didn’t need to repeat freshman ball.”

Edwards-Helaire’s first varsity play at Catholic, Weiner said, was a 60-yard punt return touchdown against Parkview Baptist.

As a senior, Edwards-Helaire became one of the nation’s top running back recruits, and he accomplished what even Guice hadn’t: leading Catholic to its first state championship in its 123-year history.

And when Edwards-Helaire arrived at LSU last season, he once again made his name on special teams, leading the Tigers with 247 yards in kickoff returns.

Orgeron said last week that “Helaire is going to be fantastic, going be dynamite.”

So can he follow Guice and Darrel Williams, who combined for more than 2,000 yards rushing and 20 total touchdowns in 2017?

“Oh yeah,” said Weiner, who was inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame this year. “The big game doesn’t bother him at all. That’s what separates guys. There’s some really physically gifted kids out there. The difference between them is how they handle the big moment. Truly, the best running backs, they don’t think, they just react. Clyde’s one of those special guys.”

Can't see video below? Click here.

Edwards-Helaire said following Guice hasn’t bothered him. This week, he said Guice is “like an older brother, and who wants to let their older brother down when they’ve been mentoring him the whole way?”

The two have been similar tailbacks since they both played at Westdale Middle School — sub-six-foot speedsters that had to prove they were bigger than they were perceived.

The 5-8, 208-pound Edwards-Helaire said the way Guice “talked to me was a way he couldn’t talk to anybody else.”

“No matter how small you are, always have the biggest heart on the field,” Guice said Wednesday, recalling what he would tell Edwards-Helaire. “He runs with that passion and energy that he’s the biggest on the field. He’s always had the drive and work ethic. Just got to always remind him to stay patient and stay with it.”

Edwards-Helaire admitted the path to playing time isn’t as clear at LSU as it was at Catholic. The preseason position battle includes senior Nick Brossette (19 carries, 96 yards in 2017) and true freshman Chris Curry (No. 15 running back, 247Sports).

But each of the running backs possess different skills that could naturally place them in different roles within the new spread offense Steve Ensminger is installing in his first full season.

Orgeron has praised the 6-0, 218-pound Brossette for his patience and ability to be a good zone runner. He called Edwards-Helaire “electric.” He compared Curry to the Oakland Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch.

It’s easy to see Brossette lined up to gain yards out of a pro-style set; Edwards-Helaire catching speed options and splitting out as a fifth receiver; Curry barreling through the line of scrimmage on short-yardage situations.

“This offense fits me and Clyde in a good way,” Brossette said. “Coach E calls (the new offense) the best to fit our skill set. I think it’s good for us.”

Yet the battle remains for the overlap snaps, and both Edwards-Helaire and Brossette said they’ve maintained their friendship throughout the competition.

Brossette said they’ve taken the pressure off by playing each other in eight-ball pool, a mobile game application.

“I’m winning right now,” Brossette clarified. “We’re just trying to have fun with each other. Get our minds off what we’re doing right now.”