Jalen Mills may be in for a position move. Or maybe not.
The LSU sophomore cornerback is practicing at both safety and corner during early bowl practices, he said Thursday. A freshman All-American last season at cornerback, Mills is unsure what position he’ll play in the Outback Bowl against Iowa on Jan. 1.
Mills filled in at safety when true freshman Rickey Jefferson struggled in the regular-season finale against Arkansas. Jefferson was in for the injured Corey Thompson, who won’t play in the bowl because of a knee injury.
Asked about a replacement for Thompson, coach Les Miles said “more likely the Ronald Martins and Jalen Mills kind of guys” would fill in opposite starter Craig Loston.
If he does play safety, Mills said Rashard Robinson will replace him at cornerback. Robinson did the same against Arkansas, giving LSU two true freshmen at the corner spots: Robinson and Tre’Davious White.
Mills began to make the transition to safety in practices leading up to the Arkansas game, “just knowing the depth at our safety was getting slimmer,” Mills said.
“Ronald’s foot was hurt, and Corey had an injury, and we had our freshman Rickey,” he said. “Coach and them (were) really being cautious.”
Mills said Martin’s foot injury is healing.
Injured quarterback Zach Mettenberger, on crutches, led a line of players into the Outback Steakhouse on Acadian Thruway on Thursday for a luncheon celebrating the team’s invitation to the Outback Bowl.
Mettenberger has been around the team during bowl practices and such — acting as a coach, receiver Jarvis Landry said.
“Him critiquing (replacement Anthony Jennings) in little ways, helping (offensive coordinator Cam Cameron) and seeing things. (He’s) being able to be a coach now. That’s his thing,” Landry said. “He’s sticking around the game as much as he can.”
Mettenberger has not been made available to reporters since before his injury against Arkansas. On a conference call Thursday, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Mettenberger remains a “second-round grade” for this year’s NFL draft despite the injury.
Mettenberger has not yet had surgery on his injured left knee.
Eugene off team; others out
LSU confirmed that safety Micah Eugene left the team and that defensive backs Derrick Raymond and Jerqwinick Sandolph will not travel to the Outback Bowl.
Team spokesman Michael Bonnette confirmed the news Thursday morning. Miles would not comment on the matter during Thursday’s luncheon.
The Advocate reported Wednesday, through a source, that Eugene left the team. Eugene, a sophomore from Lafayette who started two games this season, did not join the squad for bowl practices.
Sandolph, a sophomore out of Hahnville High, played in three games this year. He was not listed on the depth chart distributed before the regular-season finale against Arkansas.
Raymond, a true freshman who went to East Jefferson High, did not play this season and was listed as a third-string cornerback.
Jennings continues to improve during early bowl practices, Miles said.
LSU has had four bowl practices and will have three more — Friday, Saturday and Sunday — before taking a break for Christmas. The Tigers will continue practice in Tampa, Fla., on Dec. 26, the day the team arrives.
“He’s taking it in stride,” Miles said of Jennings, expected to get his first start against Iowa. “Obviously his responsibilities are more and (he has) an opportunity to know, going into the game, that he’s going to play significant football. He’s improving.
“Every day he’s getting a lot of reps. We think he’ll play well.”