By Trey Mongrue
Terrence Magee certainly wasn’t expecting it.
Despite being one of the two returners, along with freshman Leonard Fournette, to line up on kick-offs since the opener against Wisconsin, Magee entered Saturday’s game with Kentucky having yet to actually register a return. And if you ask him, he was perfectly fine with that.
“To be honest, I would prefer [Fournette] to catch them all,” Magee explained. “I just like going to hit people, so usually I tell him to catch them.”
Yet when the Wildcats opened the game with a rather odd opening kickoff sequence, the ball found itself in Magee’s hands and, as he as done a lot throughout his LSU career, he made a cut into open space and broke off a big run.
“We always try to set the tone on special teams,” he said. “It’s the tip of the spear and each time we take the field, it’s our job to make something happen.”
Magee’s 49-yard kick return certainly set the tone in LSU’s 41-3 win over Kentucky – not just for the Tigers, but for his own personal performance. He was the epitome of efficiency on Saturday night, turning 12 touches into a 220 all-purpose yards, a career-high for him.
“He’s just a really good football player,” said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who tabbed Magee as the third-down running back when he came to LSU. “We’ve seen it before, whether it’s been last season, this season or throughout his career.”
Magee has indeed done it before.
Even with Jeremy Hill getting the lion’s share of the load last season, Magee had time to shine as well, including four games in which he surpassed 100-yard rushing mark. With Hill’s moving on to the NFL to free up carries, Magee seemed poised for big things this year.
Recently though, it has seemed that the LSU running back-by-committee was turning into the “Leonard Fournette and three others” show. Magee’s 127 rushing yards and two touchdowns on nine carries reminded everyone that he can still take over games on a moment’s notice.
But just as is the case with the kickoff returns, he isn’t bothered if the spotlight is not on him.
“I was never discouraged because I don’t play to go out there and have a hundred yards night,” said Magee who, before this season, was awarded the No. 18 jersey that signifies the team leader.
“I go out there to play for this team and give it everything I got for us to get a win and whether that is me running for a hundred yards or running for ten yards it really doesn’t matter to me.”
On the field, however, Magee leaves his modesty at the door and takes on a self-described “bulldog mentality”. It was something that attracted LSU coach Les Miles back during Magee’s recruitment in 2010.
“He doesn’t go down easy and if you give him a lot of space he is going to make the exact right cut,” gushed Miles. “Those kinds of leaders are instrumental in developing a quality team.”
The talent and approach to the game are things that, not only Miles, but everyone around the program have quickly come to enjoy about Magee. Fournette, in particular, who credits a lot of his early success to the teachings of the senior leader.
“He’s always telling me who I need to let the game come to me,” Fournette recalled. “He’s always giving me words of wisdom and I’m just thankful to be on a team with him.”
Teacher may be the most important of the many roles that Magee has assumed during his four years at LSU.
With a pair of top ten teams coming to Tiger Stadium on the horizon, starting this Saturday with third-ranked Ole Miss, LSU may have a fighting chance with a bullet like Magee in its barrel.
“I don’t have one specific type of role with this team,” he said. “I’ve always been the type of guy that just does whatever my coaches ask me to do and I will always try to do that to my best abilities.”