LSU evaluation key to rebuilding team
BATON ROUGE – LSU welcomed 103 players to campus when the Tigers opened their ninth training camp under head coach Les Miles in August.
"This is my ninth fall camp here at LSU and I can tell you that it is always a pleasure to take a team and return them to Baton Rouge," Miles said. "We have had a great summer. I think this team took on a great challenge with the opener at TCU and understanding that is a quality opponent and they are going to have to start fast. To me there has been a lot of weight lost and some strength improved and I think we come to the start of camp very healthy and ready to compete."
Miles said that with so many new faces on this year's team and with the departure of 11 juniors from last year's squad, that evaluation will be a critical piece of training camp for the staff.
"I think what we have to do is evaluate extremely well," Miles said. "I think we have a number of talented people. I want to evaluate the guys that we have coming, I want to see who they are, I want to give them the opportunity to catch balls and run, and see how violent and physical they are. I want to evaluate them and I think that is a big piece of our camp that we have to really focus on.
"Some of these guys we have not really had an opportunity to work on. Some of them got to Baton Rouge in June and we have not been able to take them to the field. We are going to find out for the first time who they are and how they will compete."
LSU opens the 2013 season on Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. CT against TCU in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The first day of camp saw the return of sophomore running back Jeremy Hill to the squad. Hill, who has been on indefinite suspending stemming from an off-campus incident during the spring, practiced during the afternoon session. Hill has been cleared to return to practice and team activities, but Miles said he is still subject to additional punishment.
"We can all document this thing pretty well," Miles said. "We immediately punished (Hill). He was immediately suspended from the team. He went through public ridicule. We waited for the legal system to act. We felt like they had a full review at the situation at hand.
"He really is not a guy that has had constant bad behavior. Obviously he has had a lack of judgment in two instances. The reality is we all see him around here as a good person."
Linebacker Lamin Barrow has been selected to wear No. 18.
"It's just a huge honor and I'm very humbled by it," Barrow said. "I grew up watching and looking up to guys like Matt Mauck and Jacob Hester. To be in the same class as them means more to me than any individual award. It's a great honor to represent our team in this way."
Anthony Johnson is the top returning defensive lineman.
"When you look at last year, everyone is saying we lost too much depth but at the end of the day LSU is known for their defensive lineman and always will be," Johnson said.
Zach Mettenberger returns for his second season under center as the Tigers' quarterback.
"The biggest thing was with this new offense leaning more toward professional style, the quarterback has to be the captain and direct everything," Mettenberger said.
Running back Alfred Blue is coming off an injury.
"They are pushing me," Blue said. "Knowing that those guys are great, and everybody in the running back room is a great back. You know every day that you have to bring your all."