The freshman buzz during LSU’s preseason camp has mostly centered on highly touted local running back Derrius Guice and the talented four-star Georgia defensive end Arden Key.
Some new rookies are starting to make their marks – and one of them has made the leap to the other side of the ball.
Offensive lineman Maea Teuhema and speedster Donte Jackson have vaulted into the group of standout freshmen during preseason practice. Teuhema is sometimes running with the starting group at left guard, and Jackson, a highly rated cornerback, is playing some offense.
Less than two weeks before the Sept. 5 season opener against McNeese State, the duo looks poised to contribute quicker than some might have expected.
“He can go toe to toe with anybody. He shows it on a daily basis,” starting left tackle Jerald Hawkins said of the new guy to his right, Teuhema.
“His speed is incredible,” receiver Travin Dural said of Jackson, who ran a 4.34 40-yard dash over the summer. “Somebody like that with the ball in his hands, he’s fun to watch. They stick him in wherever, hand him the ball or throw it to him.”
Teuhema’s emergence has shuffled LSU’s projected starting offensive line. The Tigers are experimenting with the middle three positions, right tackle Vadal Alexander said. Teuhema plays left guard, Ethan Pocic then moves from left guard to center and Will Clapp moves out.
Clapp has also played some right guard in place of Josh Boutte, Alexander said. Those six linemen – with Alexander and Hawkins as the permanent bookends at tackle – are starting to separate themselves, it would seem.
“About six or seven guys you kind of know that they’re really potential starters, guys capable of being starters,” Alexander said. “You see the cream start to rise right now.”
Teuhema, a Texas native ranked as high as the No. 1 guard in the 2015 class, took less than two weeks to crack into the rotation with the starting group.
“He definitely has the physical capability, that’s No. 1,” Alexander said. “No. 2, he’s taking coaching very well, picking up the defense and picking up offensive schemes very well.”
“You can see a progression form the first day he started playing with the 1s to now,” said defensive tackle Christian LaCouture.
LaCouture and other defensive linemen have been helping prepare Teuhema for a starting role in practice. “They’ve been getting him right,” Hawkins said.
Jackson’s role is more unknown. Scrimmages and practices are closed to reporters, but Jackson received some carries and catches in Saturday’s scrimmage, players said. Where’s he lining up? Wherever, said Dural.
“Get him the ball however you can,” he said.
“Get him in open space,” Alexander said of Jackson, ranked as high as the No. 10 overall pospect in the 2015 class. “Get him around the edge of the defense, and they’re not catching him.”
Receiver Trey Quinn has returned to practice after suffering a head injury in the first scrimmage of camp on Aug. 15.
He’s wearing a green non-contact jersey but has returned to drills, Dural said. Defensive end Lewis Neal hit Quinn during that first scrimmage, and the receiver had to exit. Quinn said he did not suffer a concussion, but he did miss last week of practice and Saturday’s second scrimmage.
Les Miles’ weekly radio show begins Wednesday from T.J. Ribs on Acadian Thruway.
The one-hour show, hosted by play-by-play man Jim Hawthorne, is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on 98.1 FM and will be televised on an hour delay on Cox Sports Television. … The SEC has picked the Sept. 19 Auburn game as LSU’s Prostate Cancer Awareness Game. Each SEC school will have a home game designated to promote prostate cancer awareness. There will be activities surrounding the game and a yellow, blue and white sticker affixed to the back of players’ helmets featuring the name of former SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. Slive has twice battled prostate cancer.
Scott Rabalais contributed to this story.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.