LSU football notes: Quarterback battle rages on

In practice Monday, Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings took simultaneous snaps, both rolled toward one side of the field and then nearly toppled over.

Harris overran his roll-out and collided with Jennings.

Yeah, this quarterback battle couldn’t be any livelier.

“You’ve got to come in,” Jennings said, “and be your best.”

The battle to be LSU’s starting quarterback is developing into a heated competition just two practices into the month-long spring drills.

Everybody seems to be noticing.

“It’s definitely a competition,” left tackle La’el Collins said Monday after the second of 15 practices this spring.

Players were made available to reporters for the first time this spring, and Jennings for the first time since he replaced Zach Mettenberger and helped lead LSU to a last-minute win over Arkansas in the regular-season finale.

Harris, who enrolled in January, is not allowed to speak to reporters because of LSU’s policy prohibiting freshman from media sessions.

Jennings, meanwhile, called his struggles in a win in the Outback Bowl “freshman jitters.”

He said he’s developed more confidence and a stronger arm and continues to mentor what many believe is his top contender, Harris.

Hayden Rettig, a redshirt sophomore from California, is also in the mix to win the job.

Harris and Jennings, though, seem to be the frontrunners, a feeling drawn from coaches’ and players’ comments over the past few months — and Monday.

“I saw that Anthony and Brandon were going to be given the reps,” said former Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden, when discussing the reason he moved from quarterback to receiver.

For now, Jennings said he’s running with the No. 1 group.

“Trying to keep that going,” he said, “and eventually become the starter.”

Jennings went 7-for-19, threw for just 82 yards and was sacked four times in a win over Iowa in Tampa, Fla., his first start.

“I don’t think that game was one of my best games. If it was, I don’t think I would be starting,” Jennings said. “I watched it so many times. I’ve learned that winning is the most important thing. … My teammates still believe in me. Nothing has changed.”

Except now he’s fighting off a hotshot freshman.

Harris, a Parkway grad, was ranked as one of the nation’s best dual-threat quarterbacks.

Jennings said the two are similar.

“He can run the ball, just like I can. He can throw the ball with the best of them,” Jennings said. “What’s different right now — he doesn’t know as much as I do. That comes with time.”

Harris running into Jennings during the drill is a small example of the knowledge gap between the two.

Jennings has been there.

“I did the same thing to Zach,” a smiling Jennings said. “I know how it is. You’re not going to be perfect. Ready to get him going and teach him everything that I know. I’m still learning, too.”

In the end, though, it’s still a competition, and Harris is already making his mark.

“He wants his reps. He wants to get out there and learn, get out there and compete,” Collins said of Harris. “He made a great pass today in practice and really fired us up as an offense. We need that competition at that position.”

Beckwith all smiles at LB

The move for Kendell Beckwith from defensive end to linebacker made him “the happiest man ever,” he said.

Beckwith, a highly recruited sophomore from East Feliciana High, was running Monday with the No. 2 group at middle linebacker behind 2013 starter D.J. Welter.

He’s one of several players who have made position moves.

Beckwith played in a reserve role last season mostly at defensive end.

“Linebacker is where I wanted to play,” said Beckwith, who was signed as a linebacker. “That’s where my heart was.”

Beckwith’s move brings competition to a somewhat unstable spot last season.

“It’s definitely competition,” Welter said. “He’s a stud. Big guy, but he definitely moves well for his size.”

Coaches want Beckwith, about 245 pounds, to drop about five pounds to play the position.

Lagniappe

Senior Hoko Fanaika saw time during Monday’s practice with the No. 1 group at right guard. Evan Washington was there Saturday. Miles said Washington, Fanaika and Ethan Pocic will see time at the spot, vacated by Trai Turner’s early departure for the NFL. … Linebacker Lamar Louis, who is running with the first string at strongside linebacker, was one of two players wearing green noncontact injuries Monday. He had a surgical procedure on his wrist but is nearly 100 percent. Offensive lineman Anthony Dodd, who had shoulder surgery during the offseason, was the other.