LSU football training camp preview

LSU is expected to rely heavily on its No. 2 ranked signing class this season. Three rookies lead the star-studded group: running back Leonard Fournette, receiver Malachi Dupre and quarterback Brandon Harris.

Leonard Fournette

Why he’ll be a star — Better question: Why won’t he be a star? Fournette enters as one of the most celebrated recruits in LSU history. He’s got speed, size and strength, and he expects plenty from himself. So does everyone else. He was ranked as the No. 1 recruit in the nation.

What he’s got to prove — The pressure on Fournette is immense. LSU fans expect him to be an instant star, a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown guy who’ll lead the Tigers to a championship as a true freshman in the SEC. Acknowledging the pressure is one thing. Handling it? Another.

Best case — Fournette runs for more than 1,500 yards and scores 20 TDs, and the Tigers win the SEC. Oh yeah, and he becomes the second true freshman to win the Heisman Trophy.

Worst case — Fournette can’t produce against the big boys. The St. Augustine star can roll over high school players, but struggles against SEC defenders, and his freshman season is a bust.

Malachi Dupre

Why he’ll be a star — Rated by some as the nation’s No. 1 receiver recruit, Dupre might have the best opportunity of any of the rookies to play. His speed, route-running and catching ability are seen as exceptional for someone just out of high school.

What he’s got to prove — SEC defensive backs aren’t as kind as those in high school. Running across the middle of the field is a risk some young guys are too afraid to take. Is Dupre one of them? He, too, must learn Cameron’s playbook — and do it fast. Dupre wasn’t here during spring.

Best case — Dupre leads LSU in receiving yards, receptions and receiving touchdowns. He steps into the shoes of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., offering the Tigers a go-to target.

Worst case — The slender receiver out of New Orleans gets lost in the bright lights. He can’t learn the playbook, has too many jitters at key moments and fails to live up to the hype.

Brandon Harris

Why he’ll be a star — The No. 3 dual-threat QB in the nation, Harris has a gun. He showed off a beautiful, deep spiral during the spring game and escapability from collapsing pocket. Coach Les Miles hasn’t been afraid to preach Harris’ skills, calling him “a future” for LSU at QB.

What he’s got to prove — Though he enrolled early and went through spring practice, sophomore competitor Anthony Jennings is still a year ahead of Harris in learning offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s system. Harris’ leadership skills and quick learning will be put to the test.

Best case — Harris, his power arm and his quick feet explode onto the scene. He wins the quarterback job outright during fall camp and rolls through the season as LSU’s unquestioned leader.

Worst case — Harris goofs on the big stage, throwing multiple interceptions in his brief time at QB early in the year. Miles and Cameron send him to the bench for the rest of the season.

The rest of the youngsters

Secondary: Jamal Adams and John Battle are seen as instant competitors at safety, and Ed Paris enters fall camp as the No. 2 at cornerback.

Linebacker: Five-star Clifton Garrett begins the year as the No. 3 middle linebacker.

Defensive tackle: Deondre Clark, Frank Herron and Davon Godchaux all start in the third position at a defensive line spot.

Receiver: Dupre joins D.J. Chark and Trey Quinn as receivers who are expected to play early.

Top five storylines

1. The starting quarterback job — Don’t act surprised that this one made the list. It’s been LSU’s No. 1 storyline since Anthony Jennings struggled so much in the Outback Bowl. The battle got even more interesting when Jennings had a flat spring game while true freshman Brandon Harris impressed.

2. Leonard ‘No. 1 recruit’ Fournette — The five-star running back from New Orleans enters preseason camp third on the running back depth chart, but many expect him to be a utilized just as much, if not more, than Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard. Fournette, the No. 1 recruit in the nation in the 2014 class, has been compared to Adrian Peterson.

3. Up the middle — The competition during fall camp won’t be more fierce than up the middle of the Tigers defense. At middle linebacker, starter D.J. Welter tries to hold off Kendell Beckwith and five-star freshman Clifton Garrett. At defensive tackle, a group of redshirt freshmen are challenging Christian LaCouture and Quentin Thomas.

4. Counting on the rookies — The hype since February has surrounded LSU’s No. 2-ranked signing class. Miles said he expects to play at least 15 freshmen from the group. Several might be leaned upon for big roles. That’s a ton of pressure and risk. Can this freshman group handle it? Miles says he can tell which ones won’t and which ones will.

5. A sturdy line — LSU’s offensive line is the team’s biggest strength. The Tigers return four of five starters, including what would have been a second-round draft pick in left tackle La’el Collins. Vadal Alexander and Jerald Hawkins are also draft-worthy guys who anchor a unit led by new coach Jeff Grimes.

Four downs: What LSU wants out of camp

1. Starting QB: The Tigers would like nothing more than have Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris take the competition by the throat and win it in fall camp. A two-quarterback system is never ideal. LSU needs one of these guys to be the man heading into the season opener against Wisconsin.

2. Go-to receiver: No wideout really seemed to emerge behind Travin Dural as a secondary receiver. LSU needs that second or third guy to keep defenses honest. Who will it be this year? Malachi Dupre, Trey Quinn, Quantavius Leslie? The Tigers need to find him and do it quickly ahead of that looming season opener.

3. Nasty D: LSU’s defense last season allowed 21 points or more seven times, including 44 to Georgia and 38 to Alabama. The unit spent much of the season under the microscope. Early during fall camp, John Chavis needs this more-experienced group to have an edge it didn’t last year.

4. Return man: Odell Beckham Jr. the receiver is gone. And so is the return man. Beckham gave LSU a threat on special teams, and the Tigers will need to find a replacement. Terrence Magee and Travin Dural are listed on the depth chart as kick returners and Dural as punt returner, but some rookies could get into the mix.

Depth chart and analysis

Quarterback

Anthony Jennings, So.

Brandon Harris, Fr.

The scoop: The depth here … well, there is no depth here. Jennings and Harris will duke it out for the starting gig during fall camp. It’s possible that the two could both play, especially early.

Running back

Terrence Magee, Sr.

-OR- Kenny Hilliard, Sr.

Leonard Fournette, Fr.

Darrell Williams, Fr.

The scoop: All four guys could see good chunks of playing time. LSU has a good mix of veteran and celebrated rookies. Fournette, the No. 1 recruit in the nation, overshadows all.

Receiver

X Quantavius Leslie, Sr.

Avery Peterson, RFr.

Malachi Dupre, Fr.

Z Travin Dural, So.

John Diarse, RFr.

Kevin Spears, RFr.

The scoop: Dural leads the way, but Dupre and a host of other rookies not listed — Trey Quinn, D.J. Chark — could find their way onto the field.

Offensive line

LT La’el Collins, Sr.

Jonah Austin, Jr.

LG Vadal Alexander, Jr.

K.J. Malone, RFr.

C Elliott Porter, Sr.

Ethan Pocic, So.

RG Fehoko Fanaika, Sr.

-OR- Evan Washington, Sr.

RT Jerald Hawkins, So.

Josh Boutte, So.

TE Dillon Gordon, Jr.

DeSean Smith, So.

The scoop: This is the strength of LSU’s team. The line returns four of five starters.

Defensive line

DE Danielle Hunter, Jr.

Lewis Neal, So.

DT Quentin Thomas, Jr.

Greg Gilmore, RFr.

DT Christian LaCouture, So.

Maquedius Bain, RFr.

DE Jermauria Rasco, Sr.

Tashawn Bower, So.

The scoop: Hunter could be the breakout player of the year, and watch for Gilmore to give Thomas all he can handle for the starting spot at tackle.

Linebackers

WLB Kwon Alexander, Jr.

Deion Jones, Jr.

MLB D.J. Welter, Sr.

Kendell Beckwith, So.

SLB Lamar Louis, Jr.

Duke Riley, So.

The scoop: Alexander is poised to be LSU’s breakout linebacker. Welter and Beckwith should be in a fierce fight for the starting gig in the middle.

Secondary

S Rickey Jefferson, So.

Corey Thompson, Jr.

CB Rashard Robinson, So.

Ed Paris, Fr.

CB Tre’Davious White, So.

Jalen Collins, Jr.

S Ronald Martin, Sr.

Dwayne Thomas, So.

The scoop: Safety is a concern. Jalen Mills’ absence from the depth chart is notable. Jamal Adams, the third safety, could see substantial time.

Special teams

PK/KO Colby Delahoussaye, So.

Trent Domingue, So.

PR Travin Dural, So.

KR Travin Dural, So.

Terrence Magee, Sr.

P Jamie Keehn, Jr.

Trent Domingue, So.

The scoop:The Tigers return a kicker who last season made 13 of 14 field goals. The big question is who replaces Odell Beckham Jr. as an electric return man.

CAMP SCHEDULE

Sunday 8 a.m.-noon Team reports to West Campus Apartments

Monday 9:35 a.m. Varsity practice

3:50 p.m. Freshmen/selected veterans practice

Tuesday 9:30 a.m. Varsity practice

3:45 p.m. Freshmen/selected veterans practice

Wednesday 9:20 a.m. Varsity practice

3:45 p.m. Freshmen/selected veterans practice

Thursday 9:15 a.m. Varsity practice

3:45 p.m. Freshmen/selected veterans practice

Friday 9:25 a.m. First full squad practice (full pads)

Saturday 8:50 a.m. & 4:15 p.m. Practice

Aug. 10 6:30 p.m. Fan day at Maravich Center/Field House

Aug. 11 9:15 a.m. Practice

Aug. 12 8:45 a.m. & 4:15 p.m. Practice

Aug. 13 9:15 a.m. Practice

Aug. 14 4 p.m. Walk-through

Aug. 15 8:45 a.m. & 4:15 p.m. Practice

Aug. 16 10:45 a.m. Scrimmage at Tiger Stadium (closed)

Aug. 18 8:45 a.m. Practice

4:15 p.m. Walk-through

Aug. 19 3:30 p.m. Scrimmage (closed)

Aug. 20 4 p.m. Walk-through

Aug. 21 4:35 p.m. Practice

Aug. 22 4:30 p.m. Practice

Aug. 23 10:35 a.m. Practice

Aug. 25 First day of school