LSU underclassmen will announce decisions soon

TAMPA, Fla. — Those wondering which LSU players will be leaving early for the NFL draft will start getting answers this week.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry said during postgame interviews following Wednesday’s Outback bowl he’ll announce a decision on going pro Thursday or Friday.

Landry and receiver Odell Beckham Jr. would not reveal their decisions after the Tigers’ 21-14 victory over Iowa. Beckham said he would “talk it over with” family and coaches to “see what’s the best decision to make.”

Landry, Beckham, defensive tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson are juniors who are projected to be selected in the top three rounds of the draft if they declare.

Draft-eligible sophomores Jeremy Hill and La’el Collins are also slotted in the top three or four rounds of the May draft.

Underclassmen must declare by Jan. 15.

“My time has been great,” Landry said when asked if this was his last game.

There was a report Les Miles said on LSU’s postgame radio show that Beckham and Landry would turn pro, but the coach denied that statement at the postgame news conference.

Secondary switches

LSU’s shuffled secondary continued with its eighth different starting lineup.

True freshman Rashard Robinson started at cornerback for Jalen Mills, while Mills started at safety opposite Craig Loston.

The moves weren’t a complete surprise, despite the depth chart showing Ronald Martin as the starting safety opposite Loston. Martin, true freshman Rickey Jefferson and Mills all practiced at the position during the Tigers’ bowl practices.

Is it a permanent move?

“I don’t think so,” Mills said. “I think it was just for the bowl game, but if I were to play corner, safety, nickel … whatever makes my team better I’m willing to play.”

Mettenberger’s surgery

ESPN reported during the game that Zach Mettenberger’s knee surgery was delayed because doctors are waiting for his medial collateral ligament to heal properly.

Mettenberger is scheduled for surgery Thursday when the team returns to Baton Rouge. The senior quarterback, who served as one of LSU’s four Outback Bowl game captains, suffered a season-ending knee injury Nov. 29 against Arkansas.

ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters said Mettenberger tore the MCL off the bone and that doctors wanted it to heal and scar over the bone before surgery. Mettenberger also tore his ACL.

Jamie Keehn, you rippa

Maybe LSU’s Aussie punter Jamie Keehn was inspired by the Outback Bowl’s Australian-like flourishes.

After a wildly inconsistent regular season — he came in ranked 12th in the Southeastern Conference with a 39.3-yard per punt average — Keehn was brilliant against Iowa.

He finished with a career-high 10 punts for a 46.9-yard average with five punts of 51 yards or more and four punts downed inside the Iowa 20.

“How about Jamie Keehn?” Miles asked with a broad smile. “Are you kidding me? Bang! Oh, my goodness. He always could hit the ball like that but, BANG, he hit another one. We needed him and he came through, big-time.”

The Wright stuff

LSU senior receiver James Wright was named recipient of the Wild Tiger Championship Trophy this season for accumulating the most production points on special-teams coverage units. He showed why in his final game.

The Belle Chasse native recovered a muffed punt in the first half. He also helped pin Iowa at the 5-yard line when he hustled down field on a punt, leaped and tapped the ball back into play just before it crossed the goal line.

“When your team asks how to play you point at (Wright) and say, ‘Go play like that,’ ” Miles said.

Lagniappe

LSU is 23-21-1 in bowl games, 1-1 against Iowa and 1-1 in the Outback (formerly Hall of Fame) Bowl. ... SEC Commissioner Mike Slive was in attendance for part of the game. … Wednesday’s attendance was announced at 51,296, but the crowd at rain-soaked 65,438-seat Raymond James Stadium appeared to be less than half that. … Officials were from the Big 12. … LSU’s next game is Aug. 30 against Wisconsin at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Advocate sportswriters Scott Rabalais, Ross Dellenger and Rod Walker contributed to this report.