LSU has failed to get double-digit first downs in its last two postseason games, both losses, which is a cause for concern for LSU's offensive future -- but not if the future offensive Tigers who played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl have any say.
Tight end Desean Smith and wide receiver John Diarse, two ESPN 300 performers committed to LSU, were on the West team at Saturday’s game played in San Antonio. They were two of four future LSU players on offense, along with offensive guard Josh Boutte and quarterback Hayden Rettig.
"It was unbelievable, a great experience," Smith said of the week in San Antonio. "I'm glad I got to go."
Diarse echoed Smith's sentiments: "Every day, I was able to take something good away from the experience."
The experienced allowed both to get jump starts to where their careers are headed.
It allowed Diarse to segue from his high school position at quarterback to his college position. Classified as an athlete, Diarse will enroll Friday at LSU and begin work as a wide receiver.
"I've had to get back to playing receiver," Diarse said. "I told the coaches, I've been playing the three years as a starting quarterback. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it."
Evidently, he made an impression during the week, showing good hands to go with the physical build that will help him as a college receiver.
Smith, too, will take on a new roll in college. But he won't start working on it in Baton Rouge until August, as he'll remain at his high school the rest of the school year. And he won't change positions.
Smith, who played in a wide-open, pass-first spread offense in high school would often be used as a big wide receiver instead of the traditional tight end. Because of that, he must work on his blocking skills, something he said was a point of emphasis for him in San Antonio.
"We all want to get to the NFL and I'm going to have to improve my blocking," Smith said.
He said he felt he made progress in that area in San Antonio, getting tough work daily against players like USC commit Kenny Bigelow. He also caught a 2-point conversion from quarterback Max Browne after the only West touchdown.
Both Smith and Diarse came away impressed by Rettig, who didn't have a great game (3-for-11 passing), but did have a good week of practice.
"Hayden is awesome" said Smith, who traveled to California to spend time with Rettig last summer after both committed to the Tigers. Diarse, who caught a 13-yard pass from Rettig during the game, added that Rettig's passes came at him "90 miles per hour" and he liked the touch on Rettig’s passes.
White, who made his biggest impact on the game with a 33-yard kickoff return, also showed promise during the week in the secondary.
"Went up against him three times [at practice] and caught one pass," Diarse said. "He looked good."
Smith said all six future Tigers spent much of their downtime bonding and looking forward to being together again in August.
"We definitely going to have an opportunity to shine," Smith said, "and show people why LSU chose us."