Four months of relative inactivity did a number on Travin Dural.
A big number.
After suffering a torn hamstring against Ole Miss last November and having surgery four days later, Dural, LSU’s most experienced wide receiver, couldn’t do much during his lengthy recovery period — which forced him to miss all of spring practice.
By the time March and April rolled around, Dural, a svelte 180-pounder when he arrived on campus as a freshman in 2012, was just a few biscuits south of 230 pounds after playing at 203 a year ago.
At least two of the Tigers’ assistants — offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and running backs coach Jabbar Juluke — couldn’t help but notice.
“Coach Juluke made a couple of jokes about lining me up at fullback,” the easy-going Dural told reporters Friday. “Then, coach Cam told me he was going to put me at tight end.”
But when LSU players reported for the start of preseason practice Wednesday, Dural checked in at 207 pounds — much closer to what he weighed a summer ago.
“They (Juluke and Cameron) can’t tell me that any more,” Dural said as he managed a sly smile, “because all the running backs are bigger than me.”
Trimming about 20 pounds from his 6-foot, 2-inch frame was the first order of business for Dural to get back on the field, which came Thursday morning with his first practice since landing awkwardly while trying to catch a high pass last Nov. 21.
Even though he’s the elder statesman of the receiving corps, the fifth-year senior admitted to being a little nervous when he finally rejoined his teammates.
After all, he couldn’t even take part in 7-on-7 drills this summer when quarterbacks and receivers spend countless hours honing their skills.
“I was kind of nervous,” Dural said of getting back to work. “I wondered how my hamstring was going to react to everything being it was the first time I was able to get out there and go through a full practice since November.
“Yeah, I was kind of nervous. But as the practice went on, it felt great,” he said. “I was fatigued, but it still felt great being out there.”
Make no mistake about it, LSU’s offensive coaches are happy to have their main deep threat back after Dural averaged 20.5 yards per reception in 2014 and 19.0 yards a catch a year ago.
While they missed him in spring drills, Dural missed them even more.
“I used to sit at home by myself and throw the ball up and catch it,” Dural said. “I was missing it. … I couldn’t do anything football-related with the team, and it made me appreciate the game a whole lot more. I couldn’t do what I love.”
While not being able to practice in the spring was bad enough, missing the Texas Bowl was worse.
He could only watch from the sideline as the Tigers’ offense put up 638 total yards — including 261 through the air — in a 56-27 pasting of Texas Tech.
“It was fun to watch, but at the same time I was kind of jealous of those guys because they were running around having fun and I was on the sideline just being a cheerleader,” Dural said. “It was a very different experience for me, but I was coaching and helping the (wide receivers) out as much as I could.
“I tried to stay positive … I had to keep a smile on my face and not let everyone know that I was disappointed I couldn’t be playing.”