Children's Hospital

From right to left, LSU kickoff specialist Avery Atkins and punters Zach Von Rosenberg and Josh Growden pose for a picture after handing a signed poster to 4-year-old Kalle Grace (bottom) at Our Lady of the Lake children's hospital.

The LSU special teams unit made a special day for some kids at the Our Lady of the Lake children's hospital Thursday morning, visiting nearly a dozen patients and handing out Tiger memorabilia.

Ed Orgeron and his wife, Kelly, visited the hospital in October, delivering Baskets of Hope, and players generally visit the hospital annually during the bowl season.

LSU plays Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.

A few kids responded brightly to the Australian accent of short-range punter Josh Growden, a native of Sydney, and he and long snapper Blake Ferguson talked XBox games with 16-year-old Augustus Pugh.

LSU's special teams was one of the most productive in the nation:

  • Freshman kickoff specialist Avery Atkins led the nation with a 91.43 touchback percentage
  • Sophomore punter Zach Von Rosenberg ranked seventh nationally with an average punt distance of 45.8 yards.
  • And senior place kicker Cole Tracy was one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top kicker, and his 25 made field goals ranked second nationally. He rose to fame when he kicked the game-winning 42-yard field goal against Auburn.

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The group handed a signed poster to 7-year-old Tibbis Cooper.

"You actually got Cole Tracy on your poster," Ferguson told Cooper. "You got at least one superstar on there."

 "You like Coach O? " Tracy asked Cooper, while puffing out his chest to channel his inner Orgeron. "You like his voice?"

Growden and Atkins granted the request to be in the Snapchat story of a young teen, Treylon Broussard, and Atkins handed him a few autographed baseballs.

"We're football players, as Josh said," Atkins said with a shrug. "But we got you some baseballs."

The players last visited a 4-year-old girl named Kalle Grace, who hopped around the room in her hospital gown and proudly showed Von Rosenberg her stuffed pink unicorn.

Atkins reached into their red gift wagon and gave the girl a card with "MIKE" inscribed on it, saying LSU mascot Mike the Tiger had written it.

Kalle Grace grinned when the players gave her a signed poster, and she hugged each of them around their legs.

"Merry Christmas," she said.

"Merry Christmas," they said back.

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