Les Miles: ‘A week, 10 days’ until LSU hires offensive line coach

One candidate emerged Tuesday as a strong possibility to be LSU’s new offensive line coach, but head coach Les Miles said he doesn’t expect a hire to be made in the next week.

“I wouldn’t think for, oh, a week, 10 days,” Miles said when asked about a timetable for a replacement for Greg Studrawa.

Miles spoke at a news conference Tuesday announcing the return of several junior players, namely left tackle La’el Collins.

Several reports Tuesday indicated Virginia Tech offensive line coach Jeff Grimes is a leading candidate to replace Studrawa, who “left” the program after seven years, the university announced last week.

A radio station in Virginia, 24/7 Sports and coachingsearch.com have linked Grimes with the LSU opening.

Asked broadly about the vacancy, Miles said, “We have a number of guys we’re looking at. I can tell you this, it’s got to be a guy who can show us he can improve what is already a pretty good line. He’s going to have to have run-pass technical expertise, guys he’s put in the league (NFL). Coaching in the league is a thought. Not necessarily a prerequisite.”

LSU has interviewed at least two candidates for the job — McNeese State line coach Rob Sale and Grambling assistant Ben Wilkerson — but both former LSU linemen are seen as long shots.

LSU is after a more experienced coach.

Grimes is the Hokies offensive line coach and run game coordinator. He just completed his first season at VT. He was previously at Auburn from 2009-12 and is a Texas native who graduated from UTEP.

Collins said the future of the line coach “played a little bit into” his decision to either return or enter the NFL draft.

“But I knew our coaches were going to do a great job of bringing the next best guy in for us. I trust those guys and I trusted this process,” Collins said.

Asked more specifically about the search, Collins said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron “just says they’re going to bring the best guy in they can bring in to help us win championships.”

Cam on QBs

Cameron said Tuesday that sophomore-to-be Anthony Jennings enters LSU’s starting quarterback competition in “great position.”

Cameron, speaking to reporters for the first time in months, also said he expects young players to emerge over the coming months to replace the host of offensive skill players who left early.

The Tigers lost their top two receivers in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. and starting running back Jeremy Hill. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was a senior.

“(In) our offseason program, there will always be some guys surface that maybe didn’t play this year, and we’ll build things around those guys,” Cameron said. “We’re going to have great competition at the quarterback position. Obviously, Anthony comes in in a great position. We’ll kind of see and let it evolve.”

Jennings, who struggled in LSU’s Outback Bowl win, is expected to be joined in the QB competition by early enrollee Brandon Harris, junior-to-be Stephen Rivers, redshirt freshman Hayden Rettig and senior Rob Bolden.

Hilliard knew for a while

Running back Kenny Hilliard knew after the Outback Bowl that he’d return for his senior season, he said Tuesday.

“I kind of made a decision with my mom that I was going to get my degree,” he said.

Hilliard and Terrance Magee are what’s left of what was once a stacked backfield just a month ago. Hill left early and reserve Alfred Blue did not use his fifth year of eligibility, granted to him by the NCAA for an injury-shortened 2012 season.

True freshman Leonard Fournette, the nation’s No. 1 prospect, arrives in August and is expected to immediately contribute.

Beckwith at LB

Kendell Beckwith, who played mostly on special teams as a freshman, appears headed to linebacker, Miles said.

Beckwith, a consensus four-star recruit from East Feliciana last year, played mostly defensive end this season. He played some linebacker.

Beckwith will “more likely” play linebacker than on the defensive line in the spring, Miles said Tuesday.