The LSU Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the country by both CBSSports.com and The Sporting News, reported to fall camp today, taking care of a number of administrative and organizational duties before they open practice tomorrow. Here are some notes from the first day:
1. LSU welcomed 103 players to campus as the Tigers are set to open practice in their eighth fall camp under head coach Les Miles tomorrow, seven years after his first during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
2. Junior defensive tackle Bennie Logan will wear No. 18 this year, following in the footsteps of safety Brandon Taylor, who wore that number a year ago. Beginning with quarterback Matt Mauck in 2001, the No. 18 has been issued to a player who best represents what it means to be an LSU Tiger both on and off the field. Other players who have worn No. 18 are Jacob Hester, Richard Murphy, and Richard Dickson.
3. Two players–offensive lineman Fehoko Fanaika and wide receiver Avery Johnson–did not report today because they are awaiting academic clearance. Fanaika has finished his junior college requirements and is waiting for a grade to be reported, while Johnson is waiting on a test score. Miles was optimistic on both joining the team soon.
4. Miles announced the addition of two transfer quarterbacks in Rob Bolden from Penn State and Brad Kragthorpe from Idaho State. Kragthorpe is the son of LSU quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe.
5. LSU will have split squad practices for the first three days. The varsity will go in the morning followed by the freshmen, newcomers and selected veterans in the afternoon. LSU will hold its first full squad practice on Sunday morning, and its first full day in pads will come on Monday.
“I look forward to the leadership on this team, the veterans, to have impact and lead. As I say that Bennie Logan, No. 18, comes to mind. He’s a guy that’s worked hard through this program, really defined himself by effort and energy and want, and constantly did right things. He improved annually and daily. Now he wears No. 18, and that’s a tremendous compliment to him and what he’s accomplished thus far. Most of the team that has been around all summer is in pretty good shape academically. I feel like that the team really got accomplished many of the things they needed to get accomplished. With very few exceptions, we feel like we’ve had a good summer academically. They are leaner and stronger. I can’t wait to see us practice. It’s one month from today we play a game, and I look forward to that and I think our team does as well.”
“We also look forward to evaluating our team, because there’s some freshmen that you’ve never really seen, even though they’ve been on campus, they’ve gone to school, you still have not seen them run, catch and compete. I’m really looking forward to seeing those guys. We will have some guys that are delayed. Avery Johnson is waiting to get a test score back. Fehoko Fanaika has finished his class and is waiting for the grade to be reported. We are optimistic about both of these guys, and I think they will join us in camp once that information becomes obvious. Jeremy Liggins did not make it, he is a non-qualifier. He’ll take another route to this campus by way of a junior college two year piece. That really opened up a spot in our recruiting class that gave us a great need at quarterback. We recruited Rob Bolden several years ago. He chose Penn State, and we fell away from communications. About three months ago he contacted us through his high school coach, and said he thought about transferring. I met his dad and his mom last weekend. I think he is going to be a great teammate. I think he is going to be able to compete. He’s going to be a nice addition to our team, and certainly something that we need. It would be impossible for me to predict how he will end up. Coming out of high school we though he was a very talented guy. He doesn’t know how to call cadence, doesn’t know the names of the plays, and doesn’t know nomenclature. He’s got a long way to go, but he will be talented and given every opportunity to compete.”
“As we get ready for this fall I look forward to evaluating a couple of guys in the freshmen class. Kwon Alexander, a young linebacker, has great speed, has really tested well in the summer. Deion Jones, Trey Granier, I’m really looking forward to seeing those guys compete. Danielle Hunter, big defensive end from Texas, looks really good. Corey Thompson, I can’t wait to see what he will look like in pads, and how he might perform. In order for us to do the things that we want to do, this team has to compete, and really contribute. The veterans have to step in and make big plays, and do their job. The young guys who are now ready to play significant minutes have to play like Tigers. This freshmen class has to step into their role and play aggressively. I think we are in a good position. This ranking is certainly a complement to the body of work that’s going on here, but nobody in this room feels there is anything guaranteed. It’s all about earning it. The good thing about this room is that it’s carried the number one tag for a number of weeks throughout its years, and we will be fine. We will recognize that it’s only earned last.
On meeting with team this afternoon …
“I will welcome them back. We are going to drop the SEC Championship banner in the back. That’s what this program is designed to do, win championships. The message will be a consistent one.
On reflecting back to last season …
“I learned a lot of things. I think we’ve had a more productive summer. I think the culture in this room is defiant. We practice hard, we work hard and we expect to win. I think the philosophy behind that is something that continues to grow and build. I think I did that a lot better this summer.”
On new quarterback Rob Bolden …
“In high school, we felt he was a real quality thrower, and obviously athletic. We feel like that skill set is the same, and we are hopeful that he can accommodate the learning curve he is going to have. He will have a lot to learn. The good thing about him is that he’s played in big games, he’s been a starter, he’s walked onto the field in loud stadiums. There will be like experiences.”
On looking forward to fall camp …
“I hope there is less distraction in the perimeter. There is a very comfortable forecast for a sustained focus in learning and qualifying a team’s willingness to compete. That’s my greatest hope. I always expect that there will be some crisis along the way. My first fall was (Hurricane) Katrina, so there has been evidence that suggests no matter how smooth the weather appears today, you just never can tell. We want to catch the same speed we did prior to playing Oregon a year ago. The need to prepare like we did is certainly there too. There will be plenty of motivation for this football team to come to work, I promise.”