Travin Dural is off to the races

Travin Dural kept hitting the rewind button.

There he was, on the television, standing near the LSU sideline.

The ball was snapped. He ran straight down the sideline, a simple “Go” route.

He caught the pass around the 10-yard line. He raced to the end zone.

Rewind.

“I watched it a lot of times,” Dural said of his 49-yard, game-winning touchdown catch against Arkansas in the regular-season finale. “It took me a long time to actually get over the fact that I did that.”

During the break following the Arkansas win, Dural, a redshirt freshman wideout from Breaux Bridge, watched that play so much that his mother had to tell him to stop.

He has. Who goes against Mother’s wishes, after all?

That TD pass from true freshman Anthony Jennings brought to light what the Tigers might have in Dural: a deep threat with solid hands who can make the big play.

He has been buried a bit this season, hidden under the gaudy statistics of arguably the program’s best-ever receiving duo. Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. both surpassed 1,000 receiving yards this season, a first in LSU history.

Dural, Beckham’s direct backup, admits that his preseason expectations were never realized during a sometimes-frustrating year. He finished with just seven catches for 145 yards, fourth on the team.

He has 50 fewer catches than Beckham and is 68 behind Landry. Even running back Jeremy Hill out-distanced him with his 18 receptions.

“It was a little difficult at the beginning of the season,” Dural said, “but as the season progressed, I kind of accepted my role for what it was.”

His role is expected to grow substantially next year if Beckham and Landry, both juniors, make the expected jump to the NFL. It might get a boost in the short term, too.

Jennings is expected to start when No. 14 LSU (9-3) meets Iowa (8-4) in the Outback Bowl at noon on New Year’s Day. Jennings and Dural have spent much of this season developing a connection in practice with the second-string unit.

“We’ve got a good feel for each other,” Dural said. “I’m hoping I get a little more playing time. Or I’ll just sit back and wait my turn.”

If not in Tampa, Fla., his turn could come in a matter of months, something he and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron have discussed, Dural said.

“He knows that next year … depending on what happens with me and Odell, he’s got a big future planned here at LSU,” Landry said.

That’s been expected since Dural committed to LSU, over Alabama, in April 2011. A speedster who has added 20 pounds to his frame since arriving at LSU, Dural won the 200-meter dash at the 2012 LHSAA state championships and was on Breaux Bridge High’s title-winning relay team.

Some say he’s the fastest player on the team. Dural said he runs a sub-4.4 40-yard dash. The speed comes from his father, a former receiver at Louisiana-Lafayette.

“I watched a little film of him,” Dural said. “He was fast.”

His time in Lafayette didn’t last long.

“He enjoyed (those days), but he enjoyed them a little too much,” Dural said. “He says to take advantage of my situation I’m in right now.”

That’s a good one. He’s the leader to take over for Beckham and Landry.

A four-star signee, Dural was expected to play a role as a true freshman before tearing an ACL in fall practice, an injury he admits had him “depressed.” He spent the 2012 season recovering from surgery and joined the team for practice ahead of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

He shined at times in the spring and had impressive outings in a couple of scrimmages in fall camp despite battling a sore knee. His stock was high; even coach Les Miles in September said Dural was among a group he could see having a game with “five to nine catches.”

It never happened.

“It’s never been a thing for him,” Beckham said. “Any guy who loves the game like this, you want to make plays. Being able to not get the opportunities all of the time could be the biggest thing. Honestly, when his time comes, he’s going to be ready. He’s going to be one of the greats to come through here.”

That game-winning pass against Arkansas proved at least one thing: He can make big catches in big moments.

When his mother’s glaring eyes aren’t around, Dural might sneak in another look at that catch — just to make sure it, indeed, was him.

Or he could scan through his phone. Dural said he received more than 400 text messages following the Arkansas game.

Yes, he was the one who caught that pass.

“It’s a great feeling,” he said, “something I want to feel all of the time.”