LSU camp report: Highly touted Tashawn Bower set to make next step _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- LSU defensive end Tashawn Bower works in drills during spring practice last month.

Tashawn Bower was a pleasant surprise for LSU fans on National Signing Day 2013.

After originally committing to Auburn in June 2012, rumors began circulating that Bower had signed with Florida on the morning of signing day, only for him to officially submit his letter of intent to LSU later that afternoon.

It was a welcomed addition to a defensive line that had lost Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery to the NFL draft that offseason, and the hype began to build for the 6-foot-5, 250-pound end.

He registered only three tackles in six games during his freshman season.

“I think I didn’t prepare like I should have,” Bower said. “That’s on the learning part. Physically, I wasn’t 100 percent there, but I knew what I had to do to play. Mentally, I wasn’t as much a student of the game as I should be.”

Bower said he needed to be a pupil in a defensive trench that included veterans such as former Tigers Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson.

Even with all the information he’s absorbed since joining the program, Bower said there’s still plenty of improvement left for him as a player.

“I think I need to do the little things better,” Bower said. “The smallest things make the biggest difference. I have to keep learning and try to be a leader on and off the field. I want to get these young guys acclimated so they can get an idea of what to expect.”

Confident Dural this year

Travin Dural’s touchdown catch against Arkansas will likely go down as one of the defining moments of last season.

Before the play, dubbed “Tsunami” by former LSU receiver Jarvis Landry, Dural had caught only six passes for 96 yards and a touchdown.

“Before that play, my confidence level was at about a four or five,” Dural said. “Now, it’s at about a seven or an eight, and it’s building every day. It showed me that I really have the ability to affect games in certain instances.”

At first, Dural thought about the play every day. Now, he’s put it behind him as he attempts to be a leader of a young LSU receiving corps. With Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. now at the pro level, Dural is considered a veteran as a sophomore. The touchdown against Arkansas gave him the confidence he needed to be a leader in 2014.

“I’ve been preparing all summer knowing that I’m going to be the older guy right now,” Dural said. “I’ve been getting better mentally and physically so I can not only show the younger guys, but I can tell them. That way they have a good example and a good leader.”

No changing here

La’el Collins isn’t revealing anything about LSU’s starting quarterback competition (after all, no one really is). But he knows this: His job won’t change despite the switch at quarterback.

No matter who wins the starting job — sophomore Anthony Jennings or freshman Brandon Harris — LSU’s quarterback will be more run-centric than it was the past two seasons. Zach Mettenberger was a traditional pocket-passer.

Collins said having a more athletic quarterback behind him won’t change his role.

“Whenever our quarterback turns from a passer to a runner, we’re out there blocking for him,” Collins said.

During 10- to 20-minute viewing windows, reporters have seen the quarterbacks and running backs working on read-option plays.

Still, Collins said, blocking for a quarterback rather than a tailback is the same.

Well, except one thing.

“They’re a little smaller,” Collins said with a grin.

“When they feel like they’re ready to run and take it to the house, we’re right behind him,” he said.

Mainieri visits; Foster in boot

Backup quarterback Jared Foster, also an outfielder on the baseball team, did not practice Wednesday afternoon.

He wore a walking boot on his left foot and ankle. A team spokesman did not immediately have details on the injury.

It spoiled the fun for baseball coach Paul Mainieri, who showed up at practice to watch Foster go through drills.

A closer look

1 -- Running back Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 recruit in the nation, went through the morning portion of practice for the first time this fall camp. Fournette had been practicing with the afternoon group (mostly freshmen and reserves). LSU’s highly touted rookie running back went through drills with starter Terrence Magee.

2 -- LSU ran its Mustang package (six defensive backs and three linemen) for the first time in front of reporters this fall camp. Media members are allowed to view a 10- to 20-minute window of individual drills each practice. As expected, Dwayne Thomas served as the primary charging defensive back in defensive coordinator John Chavis’ fabled defensive set.

3 -- It’s becoming more clear that freshman receiver Malachi Dupre will have a large role on this football team. For the third straight day, Dupre practiced in the morning group with mostly veterans and starters. Travin Dural and John Diarse went first during drills followed by Dupre and Avery Peterson.