Jonathan Giles said he once had second thoughts.
There was plenty of time to think in the weeks following his announcement on May 15, 2017, that he was going to transfer from Texas Tech to LSU.
Giles had led Tech in receiving with 69 catches, 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns as a slot receiver in 2016 — fourth in the Big 12 — but he said a riff between him and former Red Raiders offensive coordinator Eric Morris made him “feel like I wasn’t in the right position at Texas Tech after the big season I had.”
Giles still had to finish his final semester in Lubbock, Texas, and without team practices and workouts, he found himself alone enough for anxiety to ambush.
“I used to call my dad pretty much every night,” Giles said Sunday, the first day of LSU preseason camp in which players spoke to the media. “Just talk to him about it. He encouraged me a lot. I was so low at that time in my life.”
Shortly after one phone call with his father, Lonzo, LSU coach Ed Orgeron called.
Day two of LSU preseason football practice was held Sunday afternoon under cloudy and relatively mild conditions, as the Tigers again worked o…
“For some reason it changed my whole life,” said Giles, a 6-0, 193-pound junior who will become eligible this season. “I was different about myself after that conversation with Coach O than I was before, so every day I thank him for that call.”
Orgeron might later be thanking Giles.
The former Big 12 barnburner seems to fit nicely within the new spread offense Steve Ensminger is installing in his first full season as offensive coordinator, and Giles could provide much-needed experience to a receiving corps that features incoming freshmen Terrace Marshall (247Sports’ No. 3 receiver in 2018) and JaMarr Chase (No. 15).
Orgeron even joked Wednesday that Giles’ 69 catches in 2017 were “more than the last 10 years that our receivers caught balls.”
Giles is wearing the No. 7 jersey previously worn by All-Southeastern Conference receiver D.J. Chark and Heisman finalists Leonard Fournette and Tyrann Mathieu.
Still stunned after learning that he had been awarded the No. 18 jersey to wear for the LSU football team this season, Foster Moreau had one l…
“You give No. 7 to a playmaker,” said junior nose tackle Breiden Fehoko. “I think we all expect big things out of Jon, and I think he will deliver.”
Fehoko also played at Texas Tech. He announced he was transferring to LSU a month before Giles.
“He knew I was going to LSU,” said the 6-3, 298-pound Fehoko, who started every game at Tech during his freshman and sophomore seasons. “He was one of the first people I told when I committed to LSU last year in April and said I was coming here. When he told me he wanted to transfer, I kind of pushed the paper a little bit for LSU.”
Giles said he and Tech’s Morris “butted heads” during his final season in Lubbock, and the deterioration of their relationship ultimately led to him transferring.
“If I had a big game and I’d get the game ball, he’d tell me stuff like, ‘You didn’t deserve it,’” Giles said. “At first, I didn’t take it to heart, and then I was just thinking about stuff like that, and it was just like, ‘Well, maybe there’s something wrong here.’”
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Morris left Texas Tech in January to become head coach at Incarnate Word in San Antonio. As of Sunday evening, UIW had not responded to an emailed request for comment.
“I felt like in his point and case, it was best for him to do what he had to do,” Fehoko said. “Being his teammate, being his brother off the field, I supported him with whatever he wanted to do. Him coming to LSU was the best-case scenario.”
Giles sat out last season because of NCAA transfer rules and watched the offense under former offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
LSU finished the season with the SEC’s second-lowest pass attempts per game (23.1) — a tendency Ensminger changed when he was promoted to full-time coordinator in the offseason.
“I remember the first meeting he had with us,” Giles said. “He told us that we’re going to throw the ball. And me and the receivers, we all looked around. You know as a receiver, that’s what you want. We were all shaking our heads like, ‘Yeah, that’s what we want.’ Since that day he said that, we’ve been throwing the ball a lot and it’s fun.”
The much anticipated LSU quarterback battle began Saturday, when the team began preseason football camp at 4 p.m.
Giles said the LSU offense — which Orgeron said will sometimes use five wide receivers at a time — will still be 50-50 when it comes to run plays and pass plays. That would be much more balanced than the pass-happy Red Raiders, who averaged 22 more passes per game than rush attempts during Giles' final season there in 2016.
More run plays means more blocking for Giles, and he said when he first came to LSU he “didn’t know how to use my hands as well.”
Giles picked up blocking techniques working with passing-game coordinator Jerry Sullivan, a 25-year NFL coaching veteran whom LSU promoted from a consulting position in January.
“I love him to death,” said Giles, who added that Sullivan provides film on former NFL receivers. “Being with him every day. I call him. We talked a lot during the offseason when he wasn’t around … I just feel like it’s great to have him.”