John Diarse watches the play when he needs a boost of confidence, when he wants a jolt of positivity on a gloomy day or craves a moment of excitement during a dull stretch.
The LSU receiver opens his computer or flicks on his television. He finds the replay of his 36-yard touchdown, a signature moment in the Tigers’ 28-24 season-opening win over Wisconsin last season.
You remember it, right? It’s the one in which he shook three would-be tacklers and raced into the end zone during a wild second-half comeback.
“I felt like I was on top of the world,” Diarse said. “It only makes you want to do that more often.”
He didn’t do it again — score a touchdown — until 12 weeks later during a baffling redshirt freshman season. His disappearance from the Tigers’ game plan after Week 1 is still somewhat of a mystery.
After LSU’s second day of preseason camp earlier this week, Diarse pushes talk of last season aside. He’s focused on what’s ahead.
The Monroe native has been one of five receivers working at LSU’s morning practices, mostly consisting of veterans and starters. They are the presumed starting five: Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural, D.J. Chark, Trey Quinn and Diarse.
Diarse, in the slot mostly last season, says he’s playing on the outside, too, this year. It’s all an effort to get on the field among a competitive and talented group of guys.
“Pushing each other. Can’t worry about who’s going to start or who’s not or who’s going to get the ball or not. There’s not a starter named,” he said. “The more I gain knowledge about this offense, the more I can move around and be able to get in spots if guys need a break. I don’t necessarily have a certain spot.”
Billed as another Jarvis Landry-type wideout, Diarse’s involvement in the offense dropped significantly after the opener in 2014. He and true freshman Trey Quinn spent much of preseason camp in a competitive battle for the starting spot at the slot.
Quinn won. Even after Diarse’s impressive touchdown against Wisconsin, Quinn surged into a bigger role last year. Diarse dropped off. He caught seven passes over the next nine games, going catchless in four straight games at one point.
Outside of LSU’s passing offense being one of the nation’s worst, what the heck happened?
“Things happen. Coaches make changes,” Diarse said. “You’ve got to do your best to adapt to the changes. My approach to every game is do what you can do to help this team.”
Tight end Dillon Gordon suggested quarterbacks just didn’t target Diarse enough. LSU’s leading receiver, Travin Dural, had 20 more catches than the Tigers’ second-best wideout, Quinn.
“It all depends where the quarterback wants to go with the ball,” Gordon said. “With him not getting the ball after that (Wisconsin) game, it made him focus up some more. At the end of the season, he came back to where he was.”
Quinn’s miscues helped Diarse take control of the slot position again.
Quinn dropped two critical third-down passes late in an eventual loss to Alabama. Diarse got his first career start the next week at Arkansas. He finished the season with touchdowns in the last two games and had a career-high 76 receiving yards in the bowl loss to Notre Dame.
Diarse wants more games like Notre Dame. And Wisconsin, too.
“I watch it every now and then,” he said of that touchdown play against the Badgers. “Reminisce and gain some confidence. Watching myself do things like that it can only boost your confidence.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.