With SEC Media Days taking over the news cycle in Hoover, Ala., and LSU hosting a recruiting camp back in Baton Rouge, there was too much happening around LSU football for one person to keep track of. GeauxTigerNation's Gary Laney took the trip east to cover the Tigers' season-opening media session, while David Helman stayed on campus to scope out the talent of the future.
In the process, they picked up a few questions about what the other saw during the week.
David Helman: OK, Gary. Apparently Zach Mettenberger is the key to LSU's 2012 season (insightful analysis, I know). With the entirety of the college football media clamoring for his attention and asking him questions about his abilities, how did the "Mettsiah" handle it all? Did he show off the poise you'd expect from a national championship caliber quarterback?
Gary Laney: If he handles defenses as well as he handles media day, he'll have a huge year.
He owned up to his mistakes off the field leading to his departure from Georgia as a redshirt freshman (he pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery for groping a woman in a bar), saying he was immature but he felt he "finally got it right" now. He deflected talk of being an offensive "savior," repeatedly noting he didn't have to do too much.
Questions about past transgressions and built-up current expectations are plenty of reasons to make one nervous and uncomfortable in a news conference setting. Mettenberger was neither. While not necessarily polished, he was personable and quick with a smile and showed one trait one would hope for from a quarterback in this setting: poise.
DH: Secondly, it seems like the SEC and national media are anointing the Tigers early. LSU is featured prominently on every preseason watch list and poll, and the Tigers are overwhelming favorites to repeat as conference champs. You were around all these guys -- is that the genuine opinion from national media, or is it just spin coming out of Louisiana?
GL: LSU's talent speaks for itself and I think the media poll results recognize both the level of talent and the respect for Les Miles' ability to get talent to play to its potential.
There is clearly an understanding that the LSU defense, in particular, might be special with five potential first-round draft picks in next year's NFL draft. And while there's some hesitation to buy into the offense -- not before Mettenberger takes his first snap as a Division I starter -- the media throngs recognized that the Tigers offense may be better equipped to hold up its end of the bargain.
Gary Laney: My first question is simple: Who stood out the most at LSU's July camp?
There was almost too much talent on hand to be able to single out two standout players. To make the task easier on myself, I'll omit the Tigers' current 2013 commitments -- of which there were many. All of those guys showed off their ability, but as current LSU commitments that's to be expected.
Instead, I'll focus on two guys I hadn't had a chance to see in person. First was wide receiver Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe). I think I talked about Quinn in every single camp story I wrote this week, because he was simply that good. The rising junior ran a sub-4.4 40-yard dash on registration day, and he only got more impressive as the camp went along. Whether it was one-on-one drills or 7-on-7, I think I only saw him drop one ball all weekend. In the process, he made just about every kind of grab on every kind of route, and he embarrassed more than a few defensive backs in the process.
Second was corner back Laurence "Hootie" Jones (Monroe, La./Neville). Only a junior, Jones already stands at 6-foot-2, 208 pounds, and he looks every bit of it. Jones showed up somewhat unexpectedly on Day 2 of the camp, and he proceeded to lock down just about everyone he faced in workouts. Just like teammate John Diarse (Monroe, La./Neville), Jones looks like he could play college ball today. Neville's secondary should be scary this year.
GL: LSU landed three commitments during camp. Who will be the next to commit?
I think everyone at camp thought cornerback Rashard Robinson (Pompano Beach, Fla./Ely Blance) would be the next guy onboard when LSU coaches led him away from practice and toward Les Miles' office on Sunday afternoon. Robinson has yet to pull the trigger, although he's still a likely candidate to join this class.
If it's not Robinson, I'd keep an eye on defensive tackle Greg Gilmore (Hope Mills, N.C./South View). Gilmore has listed LSU as one of his favorites all summer, and he's slated to make a decision in August after he visits campus with his family.