LSU Tigers: Duke Riley

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Maybe he doesn't want to give away anything to Wisconsin, maybe it truly is a tight battle -- and maybe it's both -- but LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said the quarterback race between Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris is too close to call.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Harris
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsFreshman Brandon Harris made a heck of a first impression during LSU's spring game.
"The competition is so stiff every day in practice," Cameron said. "You can improve in two, two and a half hours like you wouldn't believe because the pressure you're under here every day. I've seen as much improvement in our quarterbacks this week as I've ever seen in a group of quarterbacks in that small a timeframe.

"And that has nothing to do with me as it does with the attitude of the guys, No. 1, but the amount of pressure John [Chavis, LSU's defensive coordinator] and his defense put on them. Any flaw a guy has is going to get exposed and get exposed in the first 30 minutes of practice."

LSU's assistant coaches, quarterbacks and freshmen spoke with reporters on Sunday for the first and possibly only time this preseason, so Jennings, Harris and Cameron were among the day's busiest participants.

Head coach Les Miles said he is not rushing yet to name a starter between sophomore Jennings and freshman Harris as he wants to allow a competitive environment to thrive.

"I think the naming of a starter will be when one separates himself from the other. And when it's a real advantage to name him as a starter because he needs to recognize as does the team that this is where we're going," Miles said. "We're not there."

[+] EnlargeAnthony Jennings
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsCan sophomore Anthony Jennings secure the starting quarterback job out of preseason training?
Also the Tigers' quarterbacks coach, Cameron agreed with that philosophy. The longer true competition exists, the better off Jennings and Harris will be, he said.

"My job is to make this decision as tough on Les as possible," Cameron said. "What do you mean by that? Well, we've got two guys that we feel confident we can win with -- if not three, if not four. We're not coaching one guy more than the other hoping he's the guy."

Cameron might even find roles for both quarterbacks to fill.

He's best remembered for leading the game-winning touchdown drive against Arkansas after replacing injured Zach Mettenberger last season, but Jennings played in nine games -- including contests against TCU, Florida, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and his first start in the bowl win against Iowa -- in 2013.

Using him in spot duty made more sense because the dual-threat Jennings possesses a different skill set from Mettenberger, a prototypical dropback passer. However, Jennings and Harris are much more similar players.

Regardless, Cameron expressed confidence that whoever wins the competition will be ready to be successful once the opener against Wisconsin arrives on Aug. 30.

"I would say this confidently: we're going to have more than one quality starter here at LSU," Cameron said. "That's what we're charged with and we'll get that done."

Linebacker rotation?: Defensive coordinator John Chavis has rarely enjoyed the luxury that a deep group of linebackers might provide this season. Beyond starters Kwon Alexander, D.J. Welter and Lamar Louis, Chavis' position group runs two and three deep with quality players across the board -- and that might help not only on defense, but on special teams.

"If they're ready to play, we're going to play them. There's no question about that," Chavis said. "They're not any different than anybody else on our field. In an ideal situation, you'd like to have six starting linebackers and then they all could go play special teams and we could rest them on defense. Unfortunately we haven't been that way with depth.

"Is this a year that we can reach that? We're closer than we've been in the past."

In addition to players such as Deion Jones, Duke Riley and Ronnie Feist, Chavis has talented sophomore Kendell Beckwith trying to surpass Welter as the starting middle linebacker and one of the Tigers' top 2014 signees, Clifton Garrett, behind them.

It might be difficult to juggle, as there are only so many snaps to go around between the three linebacker spots. But Chavis seems confident that everyone who deserves to play will be on the field in some capacity.

"If you can go two deep and you don't have a drop-off, then that just makes your special teams even better," Chavis said.

No decisions on return men: Speaking of special teams, coach Bradley Dale Peveto said he is considering six candidates for the punt return and kickoff return jobs, but wasn't ready to identify them yet.

Tre'Davious White and Travin Dural are among the players known to be working at punt returner and Terrence Magee is among the kickoff return men.

"We had four great days in evaluating a lot of our team, got it down to six guys at each spot," Peveto said. "I don't really want to talk about that yet because we've got a great competition going on, but I'm going to tell you we've got enough. We've got some really good guys, some really talented young men who might compete for those positions."

Miles said earlier that Trent Domingue has taken over as the Tigers' kickoff specialist.

Right guard competition: Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes chuckled when asked how the right guard competition is shaking out.

"It's still shaking," Grimes said. "We'll let it go until somebody lays claim to it."

Seniors Fehoko Fanaika and Evan Washington have battled for the starting job at right guard, the lone spot where the Tigers lost a starting offensive lineman from 2013.

LSU position breakdown: LB

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
2:00
PM ET
Editor’s note: This week, we’ll take a quick look at each of LSU’s position groups as the Tigers prepare to open preseason practice next week. Up next are the linebackers.

LINEBACKER

Returning starters: D.J. Welter (80 tackles, 4 tackles for loss in 2013), Kwon Alexander (65 tackles, 6.5 TFL). Defensive coordinator John Chavis complimented Welter’s performance from spring practice -- during which he won the team’s MVP award -- following a mediocre junior season. Meanwhile, Alexander shifted from strongside linebacker to weakside during the spring, which should allow him to become a key playmaker this fall.

Starters lost: Lamin Barrow (91 tackles, 5.5 TFL). Weakside linebacker Barrow led the team in tackles and was one of the more consistent performers on a rebuilding LSU defense in 2013.

Key newcomers: Clifton Garrett (No. 31 overall on the ESPN 300 and No. 2 inside linebacker) was the Tigers’ highest-rated linebacker signee, while outside linebacker Donnie Alexander (No. 261, No. 19 OLB) was also an ESPN 300 pick. Garrett is an immensely talented prospect, but he’s listed on the preseason depth chart as the third-team middle linebacker behind Welter and sophomore Kendell Beckwith (11 tackles). He’s got his work cut out to become a key contributor in 2014.

Player to watch: Kwon Alexander. Alexander and strongside linebacker Lamar Louis (25 tackles) both moved into new starting positions during the spring, and both jobs seem to suit the veterans’ respective skill sets. Alexander, seems to be the player who is poised for a breakout season, though. Taking over Barrow’s old role, he could become one of LSU’s top defensive performers this fall -- as evidenced by his interception return for a touchdown in the Tigers’ spring game.

Overall: This is one of LSU’s most exciting position groups, blessed with substantial athleticism, speed and depth. It’s only a matter of time until Beckwith is a star in the SEC, and he and fellow reserves Deion Jones (15 tackles in 2013, plus an interception return for a 67-yard touchdown in the spring game), Duke Riley (7 tackles) and Ronnie Feist (did not play) are all capable players. Chavis acknowledged after spring practice that he is considerably excited about what the group will add to the defense this fall -- and he should be. Chavis has plenty of weapons at his disposal, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see several of them emerge as reliable performers in 2014.

LSU position groups to improve: No. 2

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
9:00
AM ET
BATON ROUGE, La. -- With more than three weeks to go until LSU opens spring practice on March 7, we'll use some of the down time to preview the upcoming series of team workouts.

After discussing the tight ends, defensive tackles and safeties in the first three installments of this week's series on position groups that can improve this fall, today we move to the linebackers, who disappointed a bit last season and now must replace starter Lamin Barrow.

[+] EnlargeSteven Clark
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertDuke Riley (No. 40) could be poised to make a big impact for the Tigers in 2014.
2. Linebacker

Battling for No. 1: Barrow, one of the leaders of the 2013 LSU defense, is a likely NFL draft pick and tied for ninth in the SEC with 91 tackles. He, rising senior D.J. Welter (80 tackles, four tackles for a loss) and rising junior Kwon Alexander (65 tackles, 6.5 TFLs) hardly set the world on fire, however, as the Tigers' typical starters. When spring practice opens, Welter probably starts as the middle linebacker and Alexander could remain at the strongside linebacker spot. There could be a competition between rising junior Deion Jones (15 tackles, 1 TFL) and sophomore Duke Riley (seven tackles, 0.5 TFLs) for the starting spot on the weak side.

Strength in numbers: Kendell Beckwith -- the highest-rated prospect in LSU's 2013 signing class -- made a small impact as a freshman. He totaled 11 tackles and one TFL but has the ability to play a larger role at strongside linebacker, in the middle, or at defensive end. Rising junior Lamar Louis (25 tackles) might also be a candidate for a bigger role in the middle. Sophomore Ronnie Feist is also coming off a redshirt season and might figure into the rotation somewhere.

New on the scene: Clifton Garrett is clearly one of the stars of LSU's newest signing class, ranking as ESPN's No. 31 overall prospect, No. 2 inside linebacker and top prospect in the state of Illinois. He looks like exactly the type of downhill run stopper who will fit in well in Baton Rouge, but it's rarely a great idea to project immediate greatness for freshmen who arrive in the summer. Perhaps he, or ESPN 300 outside linebacker Donnie Alexander, will be able to crack the rotation sometime during the fall, but it's probably best to temper expectations early on in preseason practice.

Class of 2013: Where they fit 

May, 16, 2013
5/16/13
10:00
AM ET
BATON ROUGE, La. -- With the 2012-2013 school year winding down, the members of the LSU signing class of 2013 should be arriving on campus soon for summer workouts. The Tigers brought in eight early enrollees in the spring and 19 more will come this summer.

Here's how we see them fitting in.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- One thing you can say about the track performances of Louisiana's top prospects in football this season is: Well, they had good football seasons.

The Louisiana state high school track and field meet at LSU's Bernie Moore Stadium wasn't kind to many of the state's top football players, who struggled with either injuries or "off" weekends.

The big exception was Malachi Dupre, who swept the Class 2A jump events -- the long jump, triple jump and high jump -- and was named outstanding field performer. He was joined by several players off the Patriots football team who dominated the 2A meet.

For others, it was a painful weekend. The nation's top Class of 2014 football prospect, Leonard Fournette, had to withdraw from several events after pulling up injured in the Class 4A 4x200 relay. Jeryl Brazil won the 3A 100, but pulled up injured in the 200.

Here are the Louisiana football prospects who placed in the Louisiana state meet:

Long jump: Donald Gage (Houston signee), Zachary, 24-1 3/4 (5A champion); Speedy Noil, Karr, 23-6 (third in 4A); Malachi Dupre, River Ridge John Curtis, 23-5 3/4 (2A champion); D'Vante Dotson, Baton Rouge University, 22-6 1/4 (Second in 2A); Jazz Ferguson, Bains West Feliciana, 21-81/2 (fifth in 3A)

Triple jump: Dupre, 44-2 1/4 (2A champion)

High jump: Dupre, 6-6 (2A champion)

Shot put: Anthony Taylor (Tulane signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 60-4 (2A champion); David Elias (UL-Monroe signee), Geismar Dutchtown, 56-10 1/4 (5A champion); Eric Thomas (Tulane signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 56-0 (third in 2A); Hakim Gray, 54-6 (Louisiana Tech signee), North DeSoto, 54-6 (3A champion); Darian Claiborne (Texas A&M signee), Port Allen, 52-11 1/4 (third in 3A); RaeJuan Marbley, Destrehan, 50-8 1/4 (fifth in 5A)

Discus: Anthony Taylor (Tulane signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 16-1 (2A champion); Duke Riley (LSU signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 150-8 (Second in 2A)

Javelin: Darian Claiborne (Texas A&M signee), Port Allen, 180-0 (second in 3A)

100: Sherman Badie (Tulane signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 10.59 (second in 2A); Richard Allen (Tulane signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 10.63 (third in 2A); Jeryl Brazil (LSU signee), Loranger, 10.64 (3A champion); Rashid Bonnette, Loreauville, 10.92 (fourth in 2A)

200: Richard Allen (Tulane signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 21.76 (second in 2A); Terrence Alexander, River Ridge John Curtis, 21.92 (third in 2A); D'Vante Dotson, Baton Rouge University, 22.56 (fifth in 2A); Eugene Brazley (Ole Miss signee), New Orleans Carver, 22.64 (sixth in 2A)

110 high hurdles: Duke Riley (LSU signee), River Ridge John Curtis, 14.70 (second in 2A)

2014 Recruiting preview: Linebackers 

March, 5, 2013
3/05/13
10:00
AM ET
This is the fourth in a series looking at players LSU might target in the 2014 recruiting class. Previously, we looked at wide receivers and tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks, offensive linemen and defensive linemen.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU loaded up with linebackers in 2012, so 2013 was supposed to be a light year for linebacker recruiting.

But Melvin Jones, a hulking natural middle linebacker, was too good to pass up, Kendell Beckwith was one of the best players in the state and, at the end, the staff fell in love with Duke Riley's versatility. So in what was supposed to be a light year for linebacker recruiting, the Tigers wound up with three.

And there will be room for more for the Tigers, who will lose seniors Tahj Jones and Lamin Barrow after this season. Here are some candidates:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Louisiana represented well on signing day 

February, 25, 2013
2/25/13
10:00
AM ET
BATON ROUGE, La. -- How deep is the football talent in Louisiana?

Consider this: Every football bowl subdivision (FBS) conference in the nation has had a least two Louisiana players sign letters of intent with its member schools for the 2013 recruiting cycle, according to the ESPN database of recruits.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

LSU can fill (almost) every '14 need locally 

February, 12, 2013
2/12/13
8:00
AM ET
BATON ROUGE, La. -- There's a perception in Louisiana that as long as LSU puts a recruiting fence around the state, so to speak, the Tigers will have a top 10-15 team annually.

There is truth to this notion, but also some exaggeration.

In most years, there are positions where LSU might feel compelled to leave the state to fill the need.

So that makes the 2014 class that much more remarkable.

Save quarterback, one can find major prospects in Louisiana at every position. This is a year when LSU can sign a great class without leaving the state. Here's how:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

GeauxTigerNation signing day predictions 

February, 4, 2013
2/04/13
2:32
PM ET
BATON ROUGE, La. -- It looked so simple for LSU heading into the last weekend before signing day.

With 26 committed players in the class and nobody left that wasn't already a longshot, the Tigers looked like they just might just tiptoe quietly to a relatively drama-free signing day, a No. 6 national ranking for the class looking pretty solid.

Forget that.

On the weekend before signing day, the top player in the country has visited. A handful of committed players took trips elsewhere. Never mind Duke Riley being LSU's last commitment. There's a lot more that might happen.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

BATON ROUGE, La. -- With one weekend to go in the 2013 recruiting cycle before Wednesday's national signing day, the question for LSU is, could the Tigers be finished?

With 27 players verbally committed to its signing class -- topped by Wednesday's pledge from linebacker Duke Riley (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) -- there's a chance LSU's signing-day list might look exactly like its commitment list.

Not if they can help it.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Carter getting home-state press 

January, 31, 2013
1/31/13
10:17
PM ET
Nebraska tight end commit Cethan Carter plays basketball for Metairie (La.) Archbishop Rummel, so he might be comfortable with the full-court pressure he's receiving from a local school.

"LSU has been recruiting him hard," Rummel coach Jay Roth said. "They've been by to see him a lot."

The three-star tight end committed to Nebraska Jan. 17 after a visit to Lincoln the previous weekend. At the time he had offer from LSU, but it was just a grayshirt offer.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

New commit brings LSU versatility 

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
10:30
PM ET
BATON ROUGE, La. -- That Duke Riley plays linebacker and is able to run a 40-yard dash in under 4.5 seconds had many thinking he might be destined to fill LSU's need for a safety in the 2013 class.

The way J.T. Curtis, Riley's legendary coach at River Ridge (La.) John Curtis sees it, Riley might fill pass coverage needs while not having to move from his linebacker comfort zone.

"I see him at that weakside linebacker spot where he might be asked to cover that No. 2 receiver," said Curtis, the winningest high school coach in Louisiana prep history. "The game has changed so much. It's about quickness and being able to play in space and that's what Duke brings."

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Four-star LB Riley makes his choice 

January, 30, 2013
1/30/13
10:04
PM ET
BATON ROUGE, La. -- The worst-kept secret in town about four-star linebacker Duke Riley became official with one, very excited tweet from Riley's"1Goal1Dream" Twitter account Wednesday night.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

BATON ROUGE, La. -- For linebacker Duke Riley (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian), his days are packed.

So are his nights.

By day, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound four-star prospect is finishing his senior year after leading Curtis to a Class 2A Louisiana state title.

At night, he's entertaining an almost daily barrage of college recruiters in what has become an expedited process for Riley.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

LSU makes pitches to recruits, waits 

January, 28, 2013
1/28/13
8:00
AM ET
BATON ROUGE, La. -- At the end of his weekend trip to LSU, Tashawn Bower sent a Tweet that said "1 visit to go." Duke Riley stayed in Baton Rouge an extra day. Eddie Jackson sent out an Instagram photo with a white No. 2 LSU jersey on.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

VIDEO PLAYLIST video