LSU football coach Les Miles said he’s looking forward to seeing how his freshmen perform when the Tigers begin preseason practice Thursday.
“There’s some freshmen that you’ve never really seen,” Miles said as the team reported Wednesday. “Even though they’ve been on campus, they’ve gone to school, you still have not seen them run, catch and compete.”
Miles singled out five freshmen, starting with linebacker Kwon Alexander of Oxford, Ala., who he said “has great speed, has really tested well in the summer.”
He said he was “really looking forward to seeing” two other linebackers — Deion Jones from New Orleans (Jesuit High School) and Trey Granier from Thibodaux High — compete.
Miles said defensive lineman Danielle Hunter of Katy, Texas, “looks really good” and added that he “can’t wait” to see what safety Corey Thompson of Missouri City, Texas, “will look like in pads and how he might perform.”
LSU has a history under Miles of playing true freshmen who demonstrate in preseason camp that they’re ready to compete in the Southeastern Conference.
“That freshman class is going to get a chance to play in several spots,” Miles said. “Those freshmen — let’s evaluate them well and see if they can get on the field and give us great help. It’s really in play. It’s not in any way just a veteran team where we’re coming in and we do what we do and there’s not a lot of things to answer.”
He added that any freshman who comes in expecting to redshirt would be making a mistake.
“If this freshman class isn’t ambitious about where they play, how miserable,” Miles said. “If they come in just thinking they’re redshirting, what a miserable way that would be to approach a great year because we need everybody. This freshman class has to step into their role and play aggressively.”
Logan earns No. 18
Miles announced that junior defensive tackle Bennie Logan of Coushatta, has inherited jersey number 18, switching from No. 93 a year ago. Logan inherits the number from strong safety Brandon Taylor, who was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the third round of the NFL draft in April.
LSU has had a tradition for more than 10 years in which the No. 18 is worn by a player who best represents what it means to be a Tiger on and off the field. The tradition began with quarterback Matt Mauck, who helped lead LSU to the BCS title as a senior in 2003.
After Mauck the number has been worn by running back Jacob Hester, tight end Richard Dickson, and running back Richard Murphy before reaching Taylor last season.
“Bennie is a guy that’s worked hard through this program, really defined himself by effort and energy and want, and constantly does things the right way,” Miles said. “He improved annually and daily. Now he wears No. 18, and that’s a tremendous compliment to him and what he’s accomplished thus far.”
Logan, 6-foot-3, 287 pounds, became a starter for the first time last season and had 57 tackles, including 6.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks. He earned the Toby Caston Award for outstanding leadership on defense in the spring.
Banners note SEC titles
Miles was scheduled to meet with the team as a group for the first time late Wednesday in the indoor practice facility, where banners commemorating the Southeastern Conference overall and West Division titles from last season would be unveiled.
“That’s kind of what this program is designed to do — win championships,” Miles said. “It will be the backdrop of my meeting and the message will be a consistent one.”
Split-squad work begins
The Tigers hit the practice field for the first time at 9:25 a.m. Thursday. LSU will have split-squad practices for the first three days. The varsity will practice in the morning and the freshmen, other newcomers and selected veterans will practice in the afternoon.
The first full-squad workout will be Sunday, and the Tigers will practice in pads for the first time Monday.