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Monday, March 4, 2013
Spring preview: Something to prove

By Gary Laney

Rob Bolden
Rob Bolden has the chance to become LSU's No. 2 quarterback entering 2013.
As LSU prepares to begin spring practice March 14, we'll take daily looks at aspects of the spring camp. This is the first in the series:

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Spring practice can be looked at as simply 15 extra practices.

The reality is, there's more to it than that. Where August practice is focused more on preparation for a season opener, spring practices are more about evaluation and improvements. There are always areas where new players need to step up. Here are four with something to prove this spring:

QB Stephen Rivers: Zach Mettenberger is back for his senior season as the starter, but is Rivers, last year's No. 2, his heir apparent?

That's not clear as spring starts. Rivers was always the No. 2 QB, but never completed a pass. Meanwhile, Rob Bolden redshirted while learning the offense after transferring from Penn State. He's had the fall to adjust. Add in ESPN 300 true freshmen Anthony Jennings and Hayden Rettig and things can get interesting at the position.

One thing they have in common is the amount of time they've spent under Cam Cameron: not a day. So that evens the playing field and makes it tougher for Rivers, whose brother Philip was one of Cameron's prize pupils with the San Diego Chargers, to stay No. 2 and with the inside track to being Mettenberger's heir apparent.

DT Anthony Johnson: LSU lost all four starters on the defensive front and six of its top nine defensive linemen. With 10 tackles for loss last season, Johnson is the most productive player returning to the defensive line.

But the former No.1-rated prep defensive tackle coming out of New Orleans in 2011 will have to do more than just increase his statistical production. A season ago, it was good enough for Johnson to show flashes of talent while splitting time with senior starter Josh Downs. This year, he'll have to be a full-time starter and a leader.

S Craig Loston: Speaking of having to step up as a leader, Loston will be the lone senior in the secondary and he'll inherit a leadership role that has been in very capable hands in recent seasons with the likes of Eric Reid, Morris Claiborne and Patrick Peterson.

Loston is a relaxed personality who has battled on-field injuries. Does he have the personality type to be a leader? Will he remain healthy?

TE Logan Stokes: Cameron loves a pass-catching tight end. Ask Antonio Gates. Ask Dennis Pitta.

Stokes, a junior college transfer, was brought in to be LSU's next tight end, but he lacks a significant pass-catching background. He was primarily a defensive player in high school and, after moving to offense in junior college, played in a system that emphasized the running back and lacked a quarterback who could get the ball to the receivers.

As a result, Stokes had modest statistics in junior college. Despite that, the book on Stokes is he runs well and has good ball skills for a big man, just the kind of player who might be able to catch passes in a Cameron offense.

Is he ready to do that? He'll want to prove it this spring.