A schedule change for his high-school team kept him from committing to LSU in person over the weekend, but nothing was apparently going to sway Patrick Miller from his decision to pick the Tigers.
Miller, a 6-foot-7, 255-pound offensive tackle from Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer, becomes the 19th player to pledge to LSU for the Class of 2012. The Tigers also have one commitment for 2013.
Miller was planning to attend the LSU-Northwestern State game, but a postponement of Dwyer’s game against Jupiter from Friday to Saturday scuttled those plans.
Future trips to Baton Rouge are in the works, but Miller’s high-school coach said his star player was ready Friday to tell LSU of his decision.
“His father and he really liked Les Miles and (assistant coach) Billy Gonzales,” Dwyer coach Jack Daniels told the Palm Beach Post. “He wanted to play in the SEC. He’s been there two or three times and really liked it.”
Miller picked LSU over Auburn, with Oklahoma also in the mix. He reportedly also received offers from Alabama, Florida, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Tennessee.
A consensus four-star prospect, Miller is ranked No. 217 on the Rivals 250 and No. 223 on the Scout 300. He’s rated as the nation’s No. 23 tackle by Rivals, No. 28 by ESPNU and No. 31 by Scout. Rivals also ranks Miller as the 29th-best prospect in Florida, while ESPNU ranks him No. 38 in the talent-rich Sunshine State.
When D.J. Howard thumped his foot into the ball Saturday night in Tiger Stadium to begin LSU’s 49-3 victory over Northwestern State, it wasn’t merely his first action as a Tiger football player.
It was his first time playing football, period.
A walk-on from West Feliciana High, Howard spent most of his athletic life playing the kind of football that Americans refer to as soccer. So the fact that LSU counted on him in its second game of the season to handle kickoffs and punts was a fairly big deal.
“It was an unbelievable experience,” Howard said. “To have 92,000 people there for our first game and it being my first-ever football game, playing for the Tigers was a dream come true.”
Howard took over on kickoffs because place-kicker Drew Alleman averaged just over 61 yards per kickoff against Oregon. Howard did a bit better, averaging 62.5.
Punting was a different issue. First-game punter Brad Wing has an apparent injury to his left (kicking) leg - he was seen leaving the LSU football complex on crutches Monday night - essentially forcing Howard into duty.
Howard responded well, averaging 41.0 yards on three punts with a long of 53.
Someone suggested the nickname for LSU tailbacks Spencer Ware and Michael Ford should be “Thunder and Lightning.”
So far, one does closely follow the other.
In two games, each has had a start: Ware against Oregon, Ford against Northwestern State. Ford has 27 carries for 168 yards and four touchdowns, Ware has 32 carries for 119 yards and three TDs.
The numbers come out pretty much equal for the two Tiger sophomores, which is apparently how Miles likes it.
“I like the best back for the series and for the plays,” he said. “I think a hot hand; a hand that is reminiscent of ball security and a guy that is fresh are the best options.
“It is very comfortable for us to look at Spencer Ware and see the things he has done. I think when Michael Ford comes in fresh, there is just a little bit more juice and a little different energy level.”
Tight end Deangelo Peterson led LSU with four catches for 62 yards against Oregon, but couldn’t find the end zone. Against Northwestern State, he had just one catch for 9 yards, but that was for LSU’s first touchdown on a pass from Jarrett Lee.
To Peterson, being able to score for the first time since he had two touchdown catches in 2009 made the lack of production the rest of the night worthwhile.
“I feel like I broke a big curse,” Peterson said.
Peterson got stopped just short of the goal line several times last season, most famously on a trick play on fourth-and-1 against Alabama when he gained 23 yards to the Crimson Tide 3 before being knocked out of bounds.
“I’m trying to be one of the guys that Jarrett Lee and any of our quarterbacks can count on,” Peterson said.
Death Valley Thursday?
Miles said at his news conference Monday that a Thursday night game in Tiger Stadium would be great, but only under certain circumstances.
“What would need to happen on this campus is really not have school on both Thursday and Friday,” he said. “That would be a very difficult piece for the academic schedule. I personally would enjoy it - but I don’t think this school can give up two teaching days.”
Mississippi State has decided to cancel classes because of Thursday’s game.
The Tigers have utterly dominated the past two decades of their rivalry with the Bulldogs, winning 11 straight games and 18 of the past 19. State’s only win over LSU since 1992 was a 17-16 victory in Starkville in 1999.
LSU leads the series 68-33-3 overall, 12-6-2 in Starkville. The Tigers have played more games against the Bulldogs (104) than any other team.
Advocate sportswriter Les East contributed to this report.