LSU QB competition front, center at Spring practice

In his two months at LSU, freshman quarterback Brandon Harris has enjoyed one thing more than any other.

“The food,” said David Fester, Harris’ high school coach at Parkway.

“Steak and baked potato any time you want it,” Feaster said. “Fajitas. Étouffée. You can ask the ladies for something, and they’ll cook it.”

The food’s been good, the classes manageable, and the weight training grueling in Harris’ first few weeks in Baton Rouge.

And the football? It’s just about to get going.

LSU is scheduled to begin spring practice Friday, though drills could be pushed back to Saturday.

Harris, an early enrollee from Bossier City, is likely to be at the center stage of the month-long spring practice.

For the first time in years, LSU enters spring practice without, really, a clear favorite in the starting quarterback competition.

Harris, one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation in this past signing class, and sophomore Anthony Jennings are seen as front-runners for the job. Hayden Rettig, a redshirt freshman from California, and senior Rob Bolden will also compete to replace Zach Mettenberger as the Tigers’ starter.

The Tigers lost nine starters from a team last season that finished 10-3 and won the Outback Bowl. Six of those left early to pursue NFL careers, and three were seniors.

So there’s lots of replacing to do, namely at defensive tackle, receiver and running back.

Still, the spotlight shines brighter behind center than anywhere.

Even coaches know it’s the thing to talk about. Without being prompted, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron brought up the quarterback battle a few weeks ago.

“We’re going to have great competition at the quarterback position,” Cameron said. “Obviously, Anthony comes in in a great position. We’ll kind of see and let it evolve.”

So Jennings is the favorite? Cameron declined to expound last month while at a press conference announcing the return of junior left tackle La’el Collins.

Either way, this battle seems to be a two-man race. All signs point to it.

During an interview last month with The Advocate, Miles was asked about the quarterback battle.

“We’ll let it play out,” Miles said. “It’s going to be all competitive. We’re in no hurry to make a decision. We’re going to teach and let them both grow, all of them I should say, and pick the best.”

It’s known that the coach wants a dual-threat quarterback. He said during last season that the future of the quarterback position in college football resides in the a more mobile quarterback.

And there’s this: During a recruiting trip in November, Miles told reporters that Harris is “kind of a future for us.”

Feaster expects big things from a guy who threw for more than 3,500 yards and ran for 1,100 last season at Parkway.

“I want him to start,” Feaster said. “If he’s not starting when they go out there against Wisconsin, I’ll be disappointed. I’ve never heard him say he needs to be the starter or anything. He’s going to work as hard as he can. I just think he’s the best.”

He’ll have to beat out a guy who’s two real appearances last season are strikingly dissimilar.

Jennings led LSU on a 99-yard, game-winning touchdown drive against Arkansas. Six weeks later, he went 7-for-19, threw for just 82 yards and was sacked four times in a win over Iowa in Tampa.

Feaster said the two — Jennings and Harris — have become friends since his arrival in January.

“He acts like they get a long very well,” Feaster said. “There is some competition that’s understood between them.”

Harris has been spending most of his time eating, in class or at the weight room, the coach said. He’s rooming in an apartment with LSU’s other early enrollee, Texas defensive back Ed Paris.

He’s getting adjusted to a different style of weight training and a more complicated playbook.

“They put a young coach at each position (group), and the coach’s job is to scream at them and beat them down,” Feaster said of weight training. “That’s been the hardest thing, but it’s all coming out positive.

“The playbook is a lot more intense. LSU expects a lot more out of their quarterbacks than Parkway did — checking out of plays and knowing the defense.”

Roster moves

Starting left guard Vadal Alexander has changed his jersey number from No. 78 to No. 74, former guard Josh Williford’s old number. … Receiver John Diarse has switched from No. 88 to No. 9, which belonged to departed defensive tackle Ego Ferguson. … LSU has added a host of walk-ons to its roster, including quarterback Brandon Bergeron, a Lafayette native who transferred from Highland Community College in Kansas. He passed for 2,978 yards and threw 22 touchdowns last season at Highland. … New enrollees Paris and Harris will wear Nos. 24 and 6, respectively.