LSU Tigers: Thomas McGaughey

Opening spring camp: LSU

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
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Schedule: The Tigers open spring practice on Saturday. They will conclude with the spring game on April 5 at Tiger Stadium.

What's new: Former Auburn and Virginia Tech assistant Jeff Grimes joined the staff in January, replacing Greg Studrawa as offensive line coach. An old face will also return to Les Miles' staff, as Bradley Dale Peveto -- a Miles assistant from 2005-08 and participant in a failed experiment as co-defensive coordinator in 2008 -- was recently hired as special teams coordinator. He replaces Thomas McGaughey, who accepted the same position with the New York Jets of the NFL.

[+] EnlargeWideout Travin Dural will need to step up for the Tigers in 2014.
John David Mercer/USA TODAY SportsWideout Travin Dural will need to step up for the Tigers in 2014.
Attrition: The Tigers once again suffered a big hit from early NFL entry. LSU receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, tailbacks Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue, defensive tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson and right guard Trai Turner all entered the draft despite having eligibility remaining.

On the move: If comments he made last month are any indication, Miles and the coaching staff intend to leave Jalen Mills at safety on at least a part-time basis. He started at the position in the Tigers' Outback Bowl win against Iowa. Don't be surprised if players who have played other positions -- tackle Evan Washington and center Ethan Pocic are reportedly among them -- figure into the competition to replace Turner at right guard. Also, keep an idea on how the Tigers deploy Kendell Beckwith this spring. He has the ability to contribute at defensive end or linebacker, and he might play both positions at points.

New faces: The Tigers have two early enrollees participating in spring practice in quarterback Brandon Harris and defensive back Edward Paris Jr. We'll discuss Harris, who was ESPN's No. 2 dual-threat quarterback and No. 37 overall prospect for the 2014 class, more below. ESPN ranked Paris as its No. 4 safety and No. 50 overall prospect, but LSU listed him as a cornerback when it added the freshmen to the roster.

Key battle: There will be several position battles worth watching -- right guard, defensive tackle and quarterback are among them -- but let's talk about the wide receivers. With Landry and Beckham jumping to the NFL, LSU lost nearly all of its production at wideout. Speedster Travin Dural (seven catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns in 2013) is the only receiver who has done much of anything, and even his production was limited last fall. With arguably the nation's top collection of receiver signees -- led by ESPN's No. 1 wideout Malachi Dupre and No. 3 Trey Quinn -- set to arrive in the summer, now is the time for the players on campus to show they deserve some snaps. Senior Quantavius Leslie (1-11) was disappointingly quiet last season as a junior college transfer. Freshmen John Diarse, Avery Peterson and Kevin Spears all redshirted. Conventional wisdom has Dural and Diarse as the most likely contributors in 2014. Will at least one or two of the others join that group?

Breaking out: Let's see whether cornerbacks Rashard Robinson and Tre'Davious White continue the ascent that started late last season. They started alongside one another in two of LSU's last three games -- wins against Texas A&M and Iowa -- and the secondary made strong showings in both games. Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel had one of the worst outings of his college career (16-for-41 for 224 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions), with Robinson intercepting the former Heisman Trophy winner once. LSU held Iowa to 13-for-30 passing and 157 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions -- one of which came when White picked off a Jake Rudock pass at the LSU 7-yard line in the second quarter. LSU has a longstanding tradition of excellence at cornerback, although the Tigers' entire defense needed to perform more consistently last fall. Perhaps they've found something in sophomores Robinson and White.

Don't forget about: Most of us have already penciled in No. 1 overall prospect Leonard Fournette as the Tigers' starter-in-waiting at tailback. And he very well may be. But he won't arrive on campus until the summer. For now, rising seniors Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard will handle the carries, and both players have proved themselves capable of producing. Magee was Hill's primary backup last season, rushing for 626 yards (and 7.3 yards per carry!) and also flashing good receiving skills (six catches for 49 yards). Hilliard has never been the No. 1 tailback, but he has acquitted himself in a short-yardage role, rushing for at least six touchdowns in all three seasons. Fournette has stardom written all over him, but he won't push the veterans completely out of the way. Count on Magee and Hilliard to keep getting their touches.

All eyes on: Anthony Jennings started LSU's bowl game against Iowa after replacing an injured Zach Mettenberger -- and leading the game-winning comeback -- against Arkansas. He was shaky to say the least (7-for-19 for 82 yards and an interception) in that first career start, however. With Harris, an excellent passer and explosive runner, already on campus, Jennings needs to show he can handle the starting job. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron hand-picked Harris and is no doubt excited about what he can bring to the offense, but he needs to learn the offense first before he can truly threaten Jennings for a starting spot. Throughout the summer, LSU fans will dissect the two quarterbacks' performances in the spring game. Jennings seems like the safe bet to open the season as the Tigers' starter, but whether he holds onto that spot is up to him -- and perhaps up to his new freshman competitor, whose ability to execute the offense will be under heavy scrutiny over the next month.
LSU was a dream school for Alexandria (La.) Senior High School receiver D.J. Chark growing up.

So when the 2014 prospect got the opportunity to become a Tiger while on an unofficial visit to campus on Monday, he took advantage and gave LSU his verbal pledge.

"It's great," Chark said. "I feel really good."

Chark, who was recruited by special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, named a top three of LSU, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M going into the visit and was planning a return visit to the Aggies after they offered him on Sunday night, a week after he performed at their June 2 camp.

But after touring the campus and soaking in everything LSU had to offer academically and athletically and spending time with the coaching staff, Chark believed it was time to make a pledge right then and there in Les Miles' office.

"I was convinced about coming to LSU and that's when we shook on my commitment," Chark said.

The 6-foot-1, 176-pound receiver won't be visiting the Aggies now and is happy to be staying with his home state Tigers. Chark built a good relationship with McGaughey, who hopes to use him on special teams in addition to receiver when Chark arrives at LSU.

"He became like a mentor," Chark said. "He knows what he's doing and he does it well."

Aside from his top three, Chark had offers from Memphis, Tulane, Southeastern Louisiana and Southern University.
ESPN 150 athlete Ricky Seals-Jones took the months of October and November to take unofficial visits to LSU and Texas A&M, but last week, the schools came to him as the in-home visit period began.

First was LSU special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey on Nov. 26, then Texas A&M recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Clarence McKinney followed three days later in making the trip to Sealy, Texas.

[+] EnlargeRicky Seals-Jones
Max Olson/ESPN.comTop athlete Ricky Seals-Jones will take official visits to Texas A&M and LSU before deciding.
Both visits went well, according to Seals-Jones, and were similar.

TAMU, LSU visit ESPN 150 Seals-Jones 

November, 29, 2012
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The two-way battle between LSU and Texas A&M for ESPN 150 athlete Ricky Seals-Jones continues.

The Sealy (Texas) High School prospect, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation among athletes, hosted LSU special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey for an in-home visit on Monday, Seals-Jones' father Chester Jones confirmed.

McGaughey has been recruiting Seals-Jones for the Tigers. His visit came just two days after Seals-Jones took an unofficial visit to College Station, Texas, to see Missouri take on Texas A&M at Kyle Field.

According to Jones, Texas A&M recruiting coordinator and running backs coach Clarence McKinney is in Sealy today to meet with Seals-Jones, as well. McKinney will have an in-home visit with Seals-Jones tonight. McKinney has been recruiting Seals-Jones for the Aggies.

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SEALY, Texas -- Ricky Seals-Jones never thought the last time he'd walk off the gridiron as a high school football player would be this soon.

[+] EnlargeRicky Seals-Jones
Max Olson/ESPN.comRicky Seals-Jones will travel to Texas A&M this weekend to see the Aggies take on Missouri.
Seals-Jones and his Sealy (Texas) High School teammates had high hopes for the 2012 season, visions of a state championship for a program known for them, having won four before.

Injuries marred Seals-Jones' and the Tigers' season and things didn't go as they planned, as the Tigers missed the postseason after dropping their regular season finale to rival Bellville (Texas) High School on Nov. 9. But on Monday morning he got quite the pick-me-up, as he was given his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey during a ceremony at his high school.

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2014 S John Bonney talks LSU offer 

November, 16, 2012
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Before this season, Houston Lamar safety John Bonney already possessed an offer from his father's alma mater, Houston. This week, the 2014 prospect received one from his mother's, LSU.

[+] EnlargeAlabama defense
AP Photo/Bill Haber2014 safety John Bonney enjoyed his visit to LSU for the Alabama game.
The six-foot, 175-pound rising star got the news of the LSU offer on Thursday from his head coach at Lamar, Tom Nolen. It was met with excitement from Bonney, who came into the season with offers from Baylor, Houston and SMU.

"I was kind of surprised at first," Bonney said. "I didn't expect anything coming but it was pretty good and I was happy. It's great."

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SEALY, Texas -- For a little more than a quarter, Sealy (Texas) High School receiver Ricky Seals-Jones was himself again, making big plays and taking over a football game.

After seven weeks on the sideline, the result of a dislocated kneecap suffered on Sept. 6, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound ESPN 150 receiver showed no ill effects of the knee injury that kept him out of action. He showed the trademark explosiveness on Friday night that has made him one of the nation's most coveted prospects while catching a touchdown pass and returning an interception for another score.

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SEALY, Texas -- For the most part, Ricky Seals-Jones looks much like the same young man he was roughly seven weeks ago. He runs the same, cuts the same, still has the same speed and athleticism.

But there is one small piece of evidence on the Sealy (Texas) High School receiver that gives away the change in his life over that span of time. It's the brace that resides on his left knee.

[+] EnlargeRicky Seals-Jones
Sam Khan Jr./ESPN.comRicky Seals-Jones, the top prospect in Texas, is No. 10 overall in the ESPN 150.
Seals-Jones, the nation's No. 1 receiver and No. 10 player in the ESPN 150, is fully recovered from the dislocated kneecap he suffered on Sept. 6 in a game vs. Houston St. Pius X, but the brace is a doctor's order. He wears one for practices and games and a different one the rest of the day when he's walking around. All day, every day, the brace is with him. Sometimes, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound young man gets weary of wearing it and slips it off.

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SEALY, Texas -- It's only a matter of days before Ricky Seals-Jones returns to the field.

The Sealy (Texas) High School wide receiver, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation at his position, is anxiously awaiting his chance to return to action under the lights, which he will do this Friday when Sealy hosts Columbus (Texas) High School.

[+] EnlargeRicky Seals-Jones
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comRicky Seals-Jones, the nation's top wideout, said he'll choose between Texas A&M and LSU after his season.
Patience has been hard for the ESPN 150 receiver, but he has learned it well since suffering a dislocated kneecap on Sept. 6 against Houston St. Pius X.

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2014 safety John Bonney on the rise 

October, 10, 2012
10/10/12
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For Houston Lamar safety John Bonney, this year has been a little bit of an adjustment.

The 2014 prospect, who traditionally plays safety, has spent a lot of time at cornerback this year. The transition hasn't been much trouble for the 6-foot, 175-pound prospect -- he has three interceptions in the Redskins' first five games.


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For Zach Mettenberger, finishing second is something he's grown accustomed to.

Frankly, he's tired of it.

[+] EnlargeZach Mettenberger
AP Photo/Butch DillZach Mettenberger is ready to end a season with a national title. The past two teams he played for ended up No. 2.
LSU's quarterback has been on teams that lost in national championship games for two straight years. In January, he watched from the sidelines as Alabama beat his Tigers 21-0 in the BCS national championship game. A season earlier, he was the starting quarterback at Butler Community College when they were defeated by Navarro Junior College, 13-12 for the 2010 National Junior College Athletic Association championship.

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