Bry’Kiethon Mouton couldn’t tell his position coach, Frank Wilson, that he wasn’t ready when his name was called last season.
It didn’t matter that he was a true freshman. It didn’t matter that LSU's starting fullback, John David Moore, had been paving the way for then-Heisman Trophy favorite Leonard Fournette for the first four games. And it didn’t matter that fullback wasn’t the position Mouton played at Acadiana High School, where he was a three-star tight end.
When Moore went down early in the Tigers' 45-24 win against South Carolina, Mouton was expected to fill that role seamlessly. Fortunately for him, the Tigers rushed for 396 yards, 163 of which came from Fournette. But the learning process never stopped — an arduous task in the middle of Southeastern Conference play.
“I was a young guy, a freshman,” said Mouton, who played in 11 games with five starts. “But in this ballgame, they don’t care if you’re a freshman or not. You've got to play.”
Mouton is no longer a freshman, and Moore is projected to resume his role as the starter. But the position is starting to become more “natural” to Mouton. And his role might be increasing in different ways.
With coach Les Miles pledging to expand the offense in the offseason, Mouton said he is “splitting the difference” with Moore and will be both a runner and a pass catcher for the Tigers this season.
Twenty-eight days after tearing the ACL inside his left knee, LSU fullback J.D. Moore return…
While not a complete overhaul, the changes to the offense, Mouton explained, have been getting more players involved “to keep the defense on their toes” and boost scoring chances. Even right tackle Toby Weathersby is noticing more backs are getting involved in more ways.
“We have so much stuff going in,” Weathersby said. “We watch film and I see the quarterback throw the back the ball, and I was like, ‘Where did we get that from?’ By me blocking all the time, you don’t ever see the back side — what’s going on behind you — until we watch on film. I’ve been seeing a lot of new stuff going in, so I feel like it’s going to be something good.”
Mouton recorded only two catches for 21 yards last season, but the spring game gave a glimpse of what he could do in short-yardage situations. He provided the only score for the White team on a 5-yard fullback dive, which Mouton said he could get used to.
“I never had the ball in a long time, so with me doing that, I can show my talents more and help (put) the team in better position to score,” he said. “Or even on goal-line plays, (they) might call my name, might be able to get the touchdown for them.”
The 6-foot-1 Mouton plans to drop 5 to 10 pounds from his current weight of 260, making him more agile when he is handed the ball. In reality, the move to fullback “was only right” because of his stature compared with most college tight ends, he said.
Just when his comfort level at fullback was starting to solidify, Mouton faced distraction in preseason camp. The torrential rain and flooding in South Louisiana caused the roof to cave in at his family’s Lafayette home and forced his grandmother to evacuate from her Church Point residence.
Mouton said his family contacted him via FaceTime, showing him damage to the portion of roof above one of the bedrooms, but his relatives were able to seal the roof quickly to avoid further damage. He wasn’t sure how much flooding his grandmother’s house received, but he said she is now back in her home.
Unable to leave camp, Mouton continued to practice, fine-tuning his new position with his family’s support.
“I had to just keep on practicing and use the adversity as motivation,” he said. “I couldn’t go home and check on my family, but they understand that the season's right there. I've got to do certain things.”