LSU Tigers: Paul Turner

LSU roster adds eight, loses four

January, 16, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU has eight new scholarship football players on its spring roster, with two players who are expected to be on the Tigers' spring roster facing a delay.

Quarterback Hayden Rettig and wide receiver Avery Johnson both got a late green light from the NCAA clearinghouse Wednesday, allowing them to join six other new players who enrolled for the spring semester.

"It's just a formality they had to go through," LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette said.

There were some nervous moments for LSU fans who recalled last January when highly-regarded quarterback recruit Gunner Kiel backed out of an LSU commitment in January and wound up signing with Notre Dame. Also, Johnson signed with LSU in 2012, but wound up not meeting academic requirements and he subsequently enrolled at Hargrave Military Academy for the fall semester. There were fears of more academic trouble for him.

Those fears now put to rest, LSU can look at an early enrollee class of eight.

They joined six other Tigers already on the roster: Tight end Logan Stokes and offensive guard Fehoko Fanaika (both junior college transfers) and high school recruits Anthony Jennings (quarterback), Ethan Pocic (offensive tackle), John Diarse (wide receiver) and Christian LaCouture (defensive tackle). All four graduated from their high schools early and were able to start a semester early.

Fanaika, like Johnson, initially signed with LSU last year, but had to return to junior college to complete his eligibility requirements.

While LSU brought in eight players, there were a handful of departures, most notably linebacker Luke Muncie, who started four games in 2012 before an illness forced him out of the lineup. He had 11 tackles and an interception.

Also no longer on the Tigers' roster are quarterback Jerrard Randall, wide receiver Paul Turner and offensive lineman Chris Davenport. Randall and Muncie will apparently transfer. Turner has reportedly transferred to Louisiana Tech and Davenport to Tulane.

Their departures leave LSU with unofficially 65 scholarship players on their roster, plenty enough to accommodate the 17 remaining committed players in the signing class plus three more. The NCAA limits teams to 85 scholarship players. If LSU were to add more than three players to its signing class, it would simply have whittle the scholarship counters to 85 by August.

Where LSU will need help: Offense 

January, 4, 2013
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- There are some unknown variables when trying to figure out where true freshmen might play a big role on a team.

Avery Johnson
Davide De Pas/ESPN.comClass of 2012 wide receiver Avery Johnson looks to re-enroll after going to prep school for a year. He could contribute to LSU as soon as next season.
Take LSU right tackle Vadal Alexander. The 2012 signee became a true freshman starter at right tackle halfway through the season, something nobody saw coming. But when left tackle Chris Faulk suffered a season-ending knee injury, it opened the door for Alexander to move into the lineup, and he took the job and ran with it after another veteran starting tackle, Alex Hurst, left the team.

Similarly, with a veteran stable of running backs returning, few saw true freshman Jeremy Hill emerging as a primary running back for LSU this year. Yet, it took only one injury -- to original starter Alfred Blue -- to get Hill the break he needed to start getting carries and eventually become the starter and the Tigers' leading rusher.

Fall practice report, Day 5 (Monday) 

August, 6, 2012
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LSU on Monday morning donned full pads for the first time in August as the Tigers wrapped up a stretch of five straight practice days to start August camp.

[+] EnlargeRonnie Feist
Courtesy Jamie NewbergFreshman Ronnie Feist has already been a hit at LSU's August practices.
It was the second day of the team being together as a group, meaning you are getting a feel for how newcomers might be used this year.

What's particularly interested is watching the linebackers, where true freshmen Ronnie Feist, Lamar Louis and Deion Jones, all true freshmen, have often worked together as a second-team unit behind first-teamers Kevin Minter, Tahj Jones and Lamin Barrow. That doesn't necessarily mean a veteran like Luke Muncie, who was competing with Barrow for the starting spot on the weak side, has completely fallen out of favor, but it is interesting to see the young players get early looks.

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LSU will end up with three academic casualties in its 2012 signing class.

[+] EnlargeThomas
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireLes Miles said Tahj Jones (58) should get more playing time in 2012.
At least for now.

Coach Les Miles said Sunday that junior college transfer offensive lineman Fehoko Fanaika will not qualify to join the team this August and instead will require one more semester of junior college work before he's eligible to join the Tigers. This came a day after freshman wide receiver Avery Johnson confirmed that he did not meet initial eligibility requirements and would attend a prep school for the fall semester.

Miles said that the goal for both is to get them to LSU in January, meaning they would be able to participate in spring practice.

"It's not optimal, but it's certainly not bad news," Miles said of the loss of Fanaika and Johnson. "It's survivable."

Their spots on the 105-man August roster will be taken by walk-ons who otherwise would have joined the team on the first day of school Aug. 20.

Another recruit, quarterback Jeremy Liggins, failed to qualify academically and opted to attend junior college. He was basically replaced on the roster by Penn State transfer Rob Bolden.

(Read full post)

Fall practice report, Day 4 (Sunday) 

August, 5, 2012
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For the first time in fall camp, there was a unified LSU team at practice Sunday morning.

[+] EnlargeAlexander Kwon
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comLB Kwon Alexander appears to be making a nice transition from high school to LSU.
After three days of split practices -- one with veterans in the morning and the other with newcomers and selected veterans in the afternoon -- the entire team came together Sunday morning. For the first time, we saw reserves gathered together as "scout" teams. And we got to see some impressive youngsters like defensive end Danielle Hunter and linebacker Kwon Alexander work with their more established teammates.

We also saw the first look at the "Big Cat" drill, the one-on-one trench battle that is a staple of LSU camps. Seeing wide receiver James Wright lose his helmet in a collision and wide receiver Jarvis Landry and cornerback Corey Thompson get tangled right into the crowd of gathered players and cameras were nice reminders that the physicality of August camp is here.

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