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Thursday, April 4, 2013
Will early enrollees make impact for LSU?

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- So far, neither junior college transfer in LSU's 2013 signing class has become the obvious starter at their positions.

On the other hand, it looks like the six freshmen who entered college early might already be reaping some rewards from their early entry.

Here is a look at how LSU's eight new players have done after three weeks of spring.

Jr. OG Fehoko Fanaika (San Mateo, Calif./College of San Mateo JC)

Expectations: Fanaika was expected to contend to start at guard.

Currently: Fanaika came to LSU heavier than what LSU coaches wanted. Head coach Les Miles said he also has work to do on technique, particularly in pass blocking.

Outlook: If Fanaika can lose about 20 pounds or more by August and get his pass-blocking technique improved, he can push Trai Turner or Josh Williford at one of the guard spots.

Jr. TE Logan Stokes (Muscle Shoals, Ala./Northeast Mississippi CC)

Expectations: Since last August, LSU has lost two tight ends to graduation and a third transferred. Stokes was brought in to bring immediate help to a depleted position.

Currently: One of just three scholarship tight ends, Stokes has been going through an adjustment period in the spring. Travis Dickson noted that Stokes looks "young," but expects him to improve as he gets more comfortable with the scheme.

Outlook: A big, impressive-looking tight end, it looks like he's destined to be one of two "true" tight ends in the fall along with sophomore Dillon Gordon. Dickson and true freshman DeSean Smith might play more hybrid roles.

Fr. QB Anthony Jennings (Marietta, Ga./Marietta)

Anthony Jennings
Anthony Jennings has outperformed fellow freshman Hayden Rettig thus far this spring.
Expectations: This was to be a learning season for Jennings, who was expected to contend with three others to replace starter Zach Mettenberger after this season.

Currently: Jennings has looked comfortable in early practices, the far more "ready" of the two true freshmen quarterbacks. His running ability is something that might allow him to get early playing time. He's 9-for-20 for 72 yards in LSU's first two scrimmages.

Outlook: Will Jennings be better, long-term, then sophomore Stephen Rivers, last season's No. 2 quarterback? Time will tell.

Fr. QB Hayden Rettig (Los Angeles/Cathedral)

Expectations: He was brought in, along with Jennings, to push Rivers and Rob Bolden for the quarterback job after Mettenberger's departure.

Currently: Rettig looks more like a freshman than Jennings, but there's no question that he has the size for the position and an fantastic arm and touch. He completed 4 of 6 passes for 61 yards in the first scrimmage.

Outlook: Rettig has further to go to reach his potential than Jennings, but is upside is pretty good.

Fr. OT-C Ethan Pocic (Lemont, Ill./Lemont)

Expectations: A long, rangy and highly-touted tackle, Pocic was expected to contend for playing time fairly quickly, with left tackle La'el Collins potentially entering the NFL draft after this season.

Currently: He's all of 6-foot-7, has looked good at tackle and warmed up to the idea of being a backup center.

Outlook: Pocic seems to be benefiting from the early arrival, learning tackle and showing he can be an option at center. After Collins is done, he'll be in the mix for the left tackle spot.

Fr. WR John Diarse (Monroe, La./Neville)

Expectations: Unless Diarse can turn his impressive physique (listed at 6-1, 205), he wasn't being counted on for an immediate impact with LSU returning its top four wide receivers.

Currently: Diarse has had impressive moments, including a touchdown catch in the first scrimmage. He's smart and mature and has the physicality of a much older player.

Outlook: It would indeed be impressive if Diarse competed for one of the top four spots in a crowded and talented young group of receivers. It might be 2014 before Diarse starts making an impact.

Fr. WR Avery Peterson (Pompano Beach, Fla./Ely)

Depth Chart: Somewhere behind the top four.

Expectations: Originally part of the 2012 signing class, Peterson (formerly Avery Johnson) attended prep school in the fall. This would be his redshirt freshman year if he qualified initially. At 6-foot-2, he's part of a wave of taller receivers coming in.

Currently: Johnson has improved has spring has gone on. In LSU's second scrimmage, he had four catches for 60 yards.

Outlook: Like Diarse, he might be a year away from significant contributions.

Fr. DT Christian LaCouture (Lincoln, Neb./Southwest)

Expectations: Generally considered the lowest-rated of LSU's three DT signees in the 2013 class, LaCouture's early start can give him a jump start over his classmates, especially since he's one of just five scholarship defensive tackles going through spring practice.

Currently: He's looked good. He's surprisingly big and taller and longer than some expected. He was productive in the second scrimmage with four tackles.

Outlook: He's coming into a great position to contend for playing time. Expect him to battle for second-team duties in August.