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Tuesday, April 23, 2013
LSU spring: Who helped himself most?

By Gary Laney

Zach Mettenberger
Zach Mettenberger is LSU's starting QB, but the battle to be his backup heated up this spring.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU finished its spring drills Saturday, capping 15 practices spread out over six weeks, and while a lot of the big names performed as expected, other names emerged.

Zach Mettenberger is solidly entrenched at quarterback, as is Jeremy Hill at running back. Linebacker Lamin Barrow has stepped into a leadership role on defense, as has defensive tackle Anthony Johnson.

But who took the biggest steps in the spring? Let's look at five.

1. Running back Terrence Magee: Magee might have caught a career break when LSU elected not to sign a running back in the 2013 class, perhaps in an effort to be more enticing of an option for top-rated 2014 prospect Leonard Fournette. That allowed Magee, who moved from running back to wide receiver in the 2012 season, to move back to running back this spring to help LSU deal with its low numbers at the position.

Magee made the most the opportunity, leading the LSU backs in rushing in two scrimmages and turning in a nice performance in the spring game, including a 61-yard run against the first-team defense.

2. Wide receiver Travin Dural: Last August, Dural emerged as a true freshman and was headed for playing time as a relatively tall (6-foot-2) and long-armed deep threat with ball skills.

A knee injury kept that from happening, but Dural recovered during what turned into a redshirt season and looked good in the spring despite still not being quite back to 100 percent. Dural made tough catches and had a 45-yard touchdown reception from Stephen Rivers in the spring game.

LSU will get a big receiver in junior college transfer Quantavius Leslie this summer. Dural's re-emergence in the spring means the Tigers should have more than one big receiver ready to make an impact.

3. Quarterback Anthony Jennings: One of two true freshman quarterbacks who enrolled early to participate in spring, Jennings looked every bit the part of quarterback of the future, showing poise, solid throwing ability, plus the added bonus of being able to make plays with his feet.

A solid first half in the spring game -- Jennings had modest numbers, but carried himself well playing for an outmanned Purple team -- seemed to put him in position to challenge for a second-team spot. But Rivers, a sophomore, had a solid second half, perhaps finishing the spring as a solid candidate to reclaim his second-team status of last season.

4. Defensive lineman Christian LaCouture: LaCouture looked solid at defensive tackle all spring, then after injuries left the defensive end spot thin for the spring game, LaCouture moved outside and recorded a sack and four tackles while working against starting left tackle La'el Collins.

It capped a solid spring for the true freshman, who will move back inside and compete for a second-team slot behind starters Johnson and Ego Ferguson.

5. Offensive lineman Ethan Pocic: A natural offensive tackle, the true freshman learned the center spot and got a lot of reps there in the spring, as starter Elliott Porter battled injuries and backup Josh Williford focused on his starting job at left guard.

Pocic handled playing center like a champ, starting with the first offense in the spring game as Porter sat out because of injuries. Pocic played well, save one bad snap that allowed LaCouture to get his sack.