LSU camp report: Freshman defenders get early taste of offense

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Practicing with the running backs, LSU defensive back Jeryl Brazil, left, runs a route with Alfred Blue as the Tigers open preseason practice Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, at McClendon Practice Facility.
Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Practicing with the running backs, LSU defensive back Jeryl Brazil, left, runs a route with Alfred Blue as the Tigers open preseason practice Monday, Aug. 5, 2013, at McClendon Practice Facility.

By Les East and Scott Rabalais

least@theadvocate.com and srabalais@theadvocate.com

Les Miles said Sunday that he and his coaching staff would be experimenting with players at different positions during preseason practice.

LSU’s coach was good to his word at the Tigers’ first workout session Monday morning: Four first-year freshmen pegged for the defense ended up working with the offense.

Cornerbacks Rickey Jefferson and Jeryl Brazil and linebackers Kendell Beckwith and Melvin Jones all caught passes from LSU’s quarterbacks during individual drills. Brazil later worked with the running backs before heading back to practice with the corners.

All four played offense in high school: Beckwith, Brazil and Jones at quarterback, and Jefferson at wide receiver and running back.

As was the case in spring practice, there was a high tempo to LSU’s first session, particularly on offense.

“Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!” running backs coach Frank Wilson told players. “Get a ball! Get a ball!”

Setting the tempo and coaching by example was first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. He was everywhere on the practice field, even rolling on the ground to demonstrate proper technique in covering a loose ball to his running backs.

Running back Alfred Blue, who missed all but three games last season and was limited in spring practice with a knee injury, was full go in practice. Terrence Magee did not practice but was expected to work out in the afternoon.

Besides the quarterbacks, a couple of defensive players worked in green (non-contact) jerseys: defensive end Jermauria Rasco and cornerback Jalen Mills.

The afternoon practice, populated mostly by newcomers and backups, was closed to the media. Miles acknowledged it was because of running back Jeremy Hill returning to practice.

Youngsters add spice

The strength of the incoming class was demonstrated by the fact that 10 first-year players worked with the veterans in the morning workout.

In addition to Jefferson, Brazil, Beckwith and Jones, other rookies who worked in the morning were defensive linemen Christian LaCouture, Greg Gilmore, Lewis Neal and Tashawn Bower, linebacker Duke Riley and tight end DeSean Smith.

Miles praised numerous young players, including some who didn’t work in the morning.

“The young guys just stand out,” he said. “(Cornerback) Tre’Davious White just makes some spectacular plays. Kendell Beckwith is a big, fast, very skilled man. ... I think Rickey Jefferson is going to be a good player. There are guys I haven’t mentioned yet that are going to play a lot of football.”

Miles also noted Bower and Andy Dodd and K.J. Malone on the offensive line among the true freshmen. He singled out two wide receivers: redshirt freshman Travin Dural and junior college transfer Quantavius Leslie.

Second not as sharp

The afternoon practice featured a higher percentage of younger players — and it showed, Miles said.

“I felt like the (players in the) afternoon practice did not quite know what they were doing because they were a lot younger and not as prepared in certain instances,” he said.