Les Miles will begin his on-field evaluation of his football team when spring practice starts Thursday. Miles will be looking for anybody who can help the Tigers win games next season, even if they are not a household name.
LSU always finds players that ascend the depth chart to the surprise of everyone.
Terrence Magee was expected to be the fourth running back on the roster last season. But Magee finished as the second-leading rusher with 626 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He told The New Orleans Times Picayune he kept working hard and patiently waited for a chance to make plays.
It all started last spring when Magee performed well in practices and scrimmages. He will probably get the bulk of the reps with the first-team offense this spring.
Stories like Magee's show the beauty of spring ball. Players and coaches get a fresh slate. Depth charts are softly set, especially at LSU where a yearly mass exodus of draft eligible players has become the norm.
There are plenty of unproven Tigers looking to make a name for themselves. Here are a few who could boost their chances of playing more snaps by having a massive spring.
Replacing quarterback Zach Mettenberger will be a tall task. The 6'5'' gunslinger threw for more than 3,000 yards as a senior.
Anthony Jennings, who played sparingly as a backup last season, is the front-runner. Early enrollee 4-star Brandon Harris is the hottest name. But do not forget about Hayden Rettig.
Rettig will probably begin spring with the second unit and will certainly keep Jennings on his heels. Harris will have to impress if he plans to move ahead of either of the two.
LSU needs to fill the shoes of right guard Trai Turner. There will be a heated competition for who gets that role.
Fehoko Faniaka is a former junior college transfer, also from California, who will battle for the position as a senior. Faniaka is massive at 6'6'', 348 pounds. He would fit in nicely with the other giants across the offensive line.
Fanaika will square off against Jonah Austin, Josh Boutte and others for the starter's role.
Dwayne Thomas gave offenses headaches in limited action last season. Thomas played as a nickelback and dimeback in defensive coordinator John Chavis' elaborate Mustang package.
Thomas sealed the victory for LSU against Arkansas by forcing quarterback Brandon Allen to fumble on the Razorbacks' final drive. He finished the season with only 10 tackles, but four of those were for loss and two of them forced fumbles.
Thomas will have his role increased next season. But his name should begin to make some headlines coming out of spring practice.
Chavis needs to put the explosive Kendell Beckwith on the field more often. The question Chavis must answer now is where and how.
Beckwith is listed as a linebacker, but his best attribute is his pass-rushing. Chavis used him some on 3rd-and-long last season. He fits more of a 3-4 outside linebacker mold when LSU's base package is a 4-3.
Beckwith is a tweener. He might not be suited to play traditional outside linebacker or an every-down defensive end. Chavis will work hard this spring to help find the best answer.
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