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Friday, March 1, 2013
Mailbag: Quarterbacks, anyone?

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Gary Laney took your questions:

From Will (Houston): If Zach Mettenberger is going to be the starting quarterback, the big question is, who will be the No. 2 coming out of spring?

Gary Laney: The obvious answer would be sophomore Stephen Rivers, last year's No. 2 quarterback behind Mettenberger.

Zach Mettenberger
Zach Mettenberger should have the starting role locked up, but there will be open competition for the backup quarterback spot.
But there are five scholarship quarterbacks who will be in camp, and the other three challengers all will have reason to think they can challenge for the No. 2 spot. Rob Bolden has had a year in the LSU offense, and he remains the only quarterback on the team other than Mettenberger who has started a college game.

As for freshmen Anthony Jennings and Hayden Rettig, having a new offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron will level the playing field to an extent. Where the other three quarterbacks will all have an experience edge over the freshmen, all five will have the same amount of experience with Cameron, none.

At the end of the day, I think Rivers and Bolden will battle for the No. 2 spot in the spring, but this time next year, it'll be a true four-man battle to replace Mettenberger. Being No. 2 now won't guarantee you anything next year.

From Jonathan (Nashville): Will LSU sign a quarterback this year after getting two last year? If so, who will they get?

GL: With Mettenberger departing after this season, LSU will likely add a quarterback to get the number back to five.

As to who it might be, it appears that LSU is still in the evaluation stage. LSU has evaluated out-of-state targets such as Chase Litton (Tampa, Fla./Wharton) before the addition of Cameron and evaluations of national quarterbacks have continued.

The Tigers, meanwhile, have also shown interest in in-state prospect Donovan Isom (Destrehan, La.). But it's important to note LSU has not brought in a Louisiana quarterback in five years.

From Will Harris (@TigrnBham on Twitter): All those LSU juniors that left early didn't exactly shine at the combine. (Barkevious) Mingo and (Eric) Reid did OK,  but others? Who advised them?

GL: There are two issues here. First, I'd add that a third Tiger, Michael Ford, had a strong combine. His 4.5 40-yard dash may seem disappointing, but it was one of the faster 40s among running backs at the combine and when one adds in his outstanding leaps and strength in the bench press, he helped himself in Indianapolis.

The other issue is their draft position. Sure, Sam Montgomery may have hurt himself some at the combine, but he's still going to get drafted, make a roster and draw an NFL paycheck this season, as opposed to playing for a scholarship. These guys, rightfully, look at it as having a finite number of years when they physically going to be able to play the game. Those years don't get extended because you spend more time in college. Basically, leaving early adds a year where a player can make money, so long as he's truly ready to play in the NFL.

The only exceptions to this is if you can improve your draft stock so drastically, you'll make so much more money based on your draft position than you would if you leave early. Top draft picks like Andrew Luck and Cam Newton earned $14.5 million signing bonuses while the rookie minimum is $375,000 a year, so obviously sitting out a year would be potentially lucrative if one thinks he can improve his stock from, say, rookie minimum territory to No. 1 overall territory.

A couple of guys jump to mind when I think of guys who might have netted more money by coming back to school: Tharold Simon and Chris Faulk. But Simon's physical limitations would have still existed next year and Faulk, coming off a major knee injury, might have actually hurt himself if he came back to school and suffered another knee setback.

Kevin (Houston): Do you think LSU has a shot at a No. 1 class in 2014?

GL: Not only do I think LSU has a shot, it may have a better chance than anybody else.

Louisiana is loaded in 2014, as is neighboring Texas. Louisiana has 12 players on the ESPN Watch List, including a handful who are candidates to be the top player in the country at their positions. If LSU can land most of these guys and add some highly regarded Texans, that's going to be hard to beat.

The Tigers are off to a good start, too. One of the best players in Texas, safety Ed Paris, is already committed. LSU's also in great shape with top Texas Tony Brown (his sister is already headed to LSU to run track). If LSU is able to sign Brown, then add in-state targets like Leonard Fournette and Cameron Robinson, that's going to be hard for anybody to beat.