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Friday, June 28, 2013
GTN Mailbag: Who's next?

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- GTN writer Gary Laney stopped by to take your questions:

From Corey (Tampa, Fla.): Zach Mettenberger is the quarterback for now, but who do you think his replacement will be after the 2013 season? And let's assume Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La./Airline) goes to LSU.

Zach Mettenberger
LSU has some options to replace quarterback Zach Mettenberger after the 2013 season.
Gary Laney: It seems like a lot of people who follow LSU want to write off Stephen Rivers, who was the No. 2 quarterback last year as a redshirt freshman, in a battle with Class of 2013 recruit Anthony Jennings.

Jennings arrived at LSU for the spring semester and was impressive, showing poise, a strong arm and athleticism the other LSU quarterbacks lack. Based on that, many suspect he's the heir apparent.

But that ignores a couple of things. First, Rivers had a good spring, particularly a solid spring game. Plus, he is in Year 3 in the program, giving him two years of program experience over Jennings.

And that's not even bringing up Rob Bolden, the other veteran. A former starter at Penn State, Bolden has become something of a forgotten man after redshirting last season, then sitting out spring ball because of injury. A healthy Bolden could be a factor in the competition.

As for Harris -- a 6-foot-2, 186-pound ESPN 300 pick --  he would have an opportunity to compete, mostly because he plans on enrolling for the spring semester. Enrolling early went a long way in helping Jennings get off to a fast start this year.

Given all that, I still give a slight edge to Jennings. Based on the kind of quarterbacks LSU is recruiting this year -- almost all dual-threat athletes -- new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron appears to be looking for quarterbacks who can add a running element going forward and that's a definite edge for Jennings relative to Rivers, a pure pocket passer.

Any new quarterback coming in -- whether it's Harris, or somebody else -- will be hard-pressed to adjust as quickly to the college game as Jennings did in the spring. And Bolden has an uphill climb to prove he's healthy enough to compete with Jennings' athleticism.

The bottom line is this: There is a lot of time between now and next spring when the would-be replacements will compete for the job, unless Mettenberger gets hurt this season.

From Joe (Denham Springs): When will the next domino fall?

GL: That has taken two meanings. One is literally the next recruit to commit. The other is when the next of LSU's major targets chooses the Tigers.

By the latter definition, the Tigers will likely have a "domino fall" on Friday afternoon.

John Battle IV (Hallandale, Fla./Hallandale), a three-star safety, is set to announce his school at 4 p.m., and many think that school will be LSU.

It would make sense, from an LSU point of view.

Battle is listed at 6-1, 171 pounds (other sites have him larger) and has the size to play safety, but the fluid athleticism to cover receivers both in the slot and outside as a traditional cornerback.

LSU has coveted this skill set to match up with the evolution of SEC offenses. Many SEC teams run spread offenses, which force safeties to have to cover inside receivers like cornerbacks. And many SEC teams have big, physical outside receivers, which require cornerbacks to be able to match size and physicality.

Like ESPN 150 safety Laurence "Hootie" Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) and LSU-committed hybrid defensive back Edward Paris (Mansfield, Texas/Arlington Timberview), Battle is exactly that kind of versatile athlete. He blurs the line between safety and cornerback in a positive way that LSU likes.

So don't let his 3-star status fool you. LSU -- some call it "DBU" for its proficiency at producing NFL-caliber defensive backs -- absolutely loves what it thinks it will be getting from Battle.