Junior college transfer will enroll in January, Miles says
“He plays heavy and plays fast. I’d like to have him a little heavier, but unlike some of us who are a little bit more naturally inclined to gain weight, I don’t think he is.” LES MILES, LSU coach, on linebacker Tahj Jones
Offensive lineman Fehoko Fanaika won’t be making it to LSU training camp.
Coach Les Miles said the 6-foot-6, 340-pound junior college transfer from Sacramento, Calif., did not qualify academically, making him the third newcomer whose season was lost in the classroom.
On Saturday, Patrick Peterson Sr. told The Advocate that his son, receiver Avery Johnson, fell short on his SAT score, and Miles confirmed after Sunday’s practice that both players won’t be at LSU this season.
“Both guys will be delayed in their reporting date based on qualification issues,” Miles said. “We expect that they will be here in January without any loss of eligibility. It’s not optimal, but it’s certainly not bad news. It’s survivable.”
The third member of the recruiting class who won’t join LSU is quarterback Jeremy Liggins, who will suit up for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College instead.
Miles indicated that Faniaka, an offensive lineman, would have to return to school for the fall semester, but he declined to specify where. He added that he plans to fill the roster spots vacated by Faniaka and Johnson — the younger brother of former LSU All-American cornerback Patrick Peterson — with players who are already practicing with the Tigers.
Tigers break out ‘Big Cat’
LSU led off its first full-squad practice off with a bang, opening with the “Big Cat Drill,” in which the team forms a circle and watches two players — one on offense, one on defense — go head to head in the center.
Miles felt it was an important moment to get the Tigers back in a hard-hitting mindset, as well as give the freshmen a proper welcome.
“We’re a physical football team. Our guys understand it, that’s how we play, and it’s fundamental to us. It’s what we’re going to do,” Miles said. “There’s some natural animosity when big men — or for that matter, small men — decide they’re going to whack each other. It was fun. I enjoyed it.”
Miles stood in the middle and called out names, with quarterback Zach Mettenberger jokingly stepping forward when lineman Derek Edinburgh was summoned.
Memorable moments included receiver James Wright losing his helmet against safety Corey Thompson, receiver Jarvis Landry laying a solid hit on freshman cornerback Dwayne Thomas, and cornerback Tyrann Mathieu chattering away after taking on freshman receiver Travin Dural.
Miles said the team will be full contact on Monday, which he called “the end of our five-day acclimatization.”
Jones a hit at LB
With only one starter — junior Kevin Minter — returning to the Tigers’ linebacker corps, there’s plenty of playing time up for grabs.
Miles said he expects several guys to fill that void this season, and he listed junior Tahj Jones as a standout.
Jones played in all 14 games last season with one start, finishing 13th on the team in tackles with 27. He also registered an interception and fumble recovery.
If there’s a drawback to Jones, it’s his size. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, only incoming freshman linebackers Lorenzo Phillips and Deion Jones are lighter.
But Miles praised Tahj Jones for being coachable and improving, and he doesn’t see his size as an issue.
“He plays heavy and plays fast,” Miles said. “I’d like to have him a little heavier, but unlike some of us who are a little bit more naturally inclined to gain weight, I don’t think he is.”
Miles was asked about a player who took the field with the defense Sunday wearing a No. 33 jersey. He wasn’t listed on the roster.
“Well, you caught me,” Miles joked. “He’s the super secret 33 guy.”
The secret weapon has not yet been identified by LSU.