LSU coach Les Miles doesn’t believe in redshirting true freshmen who are ready to play.
“It’s about this year,” Miles said. “If they can make us better, we want them to contribute.”
Sophomore safety Ronald Martin is a case in point. Martin was ready to play as a true freshman last season, but was stuck behind veterans Eric Reid and Craig Loston for most of the season. But Loston was sidelined by a concussion, then Reid suffered a thigh injury against Ole Miss in the penultimate game of the regular season.
Martin was next in line, and ready, so in he went. Miles played him some more against Arkansas and Georgia the following two weeks.
“God put me in this position for a reason,” Martin said. “I’m just going to take it and go.”
The position Martin finds himself in Saturday against North Texas could be a significant one. The former White Castle quarterback has gotten most of the reps with the first-team defense since Loston went down with a toe injury early in fall camp.
Even though he was left with three years of eligibility rather than four, Martin said the opportunity to see game action last year has served him well.
“It let me know what’s going on out there,” Martin said. “When you’re out there, it’s a battle. It let me know how it is out there.”
Collins adjusting well
La’El Collins began playing offensive tackle in the fourth grade with the South Baton Rouge Rams. He left Redemptorist in 2011 as the top-rated offensive tackle in the nation.
So how does the 6-foot-5, 321-pounder feel about lining up for LSU at left guard?
“It’s pretty much natural to me right now,” Collins said. “One thing about me is I can play inside and out, so being able to play guard and play tackle, I feel like it gives me a good look and makes me versatile, which I want to be.”
Collins could still have a future at tackle, but veterans Chris Faulk and Alex Hurst are locked into those positions this fall. Collins is the likely starter at left guard for Saturday’s season opener.
Simon becomes technician
Junior Tharold Simon said he has become a more complete cornerback thanks to first-year defensive backs coach Corey Raymond, who played for LSU as well as the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions.
“Coach Raymond changed my whole game around from last year,” Simon said. “He’s a real technician. I think he’s the type of coach to get you ready for the next level. Last year, it was just me going out there and being athletic and playing football. Now that I’ve got the technique down, the fundamentals of the game, knowing the game, I think he made me a way much better player than I was last year.”
Mills mature freshman
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry said Jalen Mills, who’s expected to start Saturday, looks more mature than the typical true freshman.
“I think (maturity) is coming with the role he has now,” Landry said. “He’s more into learning, not playing around on the side. He’s more involved in the defense and learn schemes to be in position to make plays. He has been that way all along. He has that aggressiveness that separates him from the other freshmen.”
Scott Hotard contributed
to this report.