Dig Baton Rouge

Young and Confident

By Andrew Alexander

LSU receiver Travin Dural instantly became household name to Tiger fans after his game winning touchdown reception in LSU’s regular season finale against Arkansas last November.

With freshman Anthony Jennings at the helm of the offense because of an injury to senior Zach Mettenberger, the play offered a glimpse into LSU’s future on offense, and had Tiger fans salivating over many imminent Jennings-to-Dural touchdowns.

Dural’s train of thought was much simpler during the play.

“I’m looking forward to winning a national championship this year,” Dupre said.

“[Head coach Les Miles] said, ‘You’re going to be open on this route,’” Dural said. “I’m just thinking, ‘Don’t drop this ball, don’t drop this ball.’ And I was wide open, and the ball felt like it was in the air for 10 minutes.”

That reception was Dural’s second touchdown, but just his seventh reception of the season – the other five all resulted in first downs.

Dural’s seven catches, 145 yards and two touchdowns lead a LSU receiving corps that is frantically trying to replace two of the most productive receivers in LSU history from last season. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry combined for over 2,300 yards and 18 touchdowns last season and were both drafted in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.

LSU’s next three returning receivers are fullback Connor Neighbors with seven receptions, and tight ends Dillon Gordon and Travis Dickson’s 11 combined receptions.

Seriously, that’s it.

Most of the receivers LSU will be counting on either redshirted (Avery Peterson, John Diarse), rarely saw the field (Quantavius Leslie) or are freshmen (Malachi Dupre, Trey Quinn, Kevin Spears and D.J. Chark).

But LSU’s lack of experience amongst this relatively new group of receivers has not impeded the confidence of freshman wide receiver Malachi Dupre.

“I’m looking forward to winning a national championship this year,” Dupre said.

When asked if winning a national championship was a realistic outcome for this season, Dupre said it’s the only goal that the team has in mind.

“I’m trying to become to the best I can be in practice so when the season comes, I can make stuff happen,” said Dupre, who averaged more than 17 yards per catch as a senior at John Curtis High School last year.

Dupre doesn’t feel the pressure to come in and instantly replace Beckham and Landry’s production. That’s a good sentiment to have, especially when Mettenberger is no longer the guy feeding the receivers.

“I know Odell played a lot as a freshman at wide receiver, but you can see the steps that it took to reach his peak as a junior,” he said. “He didn’t become great right away, it took time, and I have time working on my side too.”

Time may not be something the Tiger receiving corps have a lot of this summer as they prepare for the season opener in Houston, Texas against Wisconsin.

As the veteran guy and de facto leader of the receivers, Dural has taken on the responsibility of getting the freshman receivers up to speed.

“I’m trying to get them to understand that the college game is a lot faster,” Dural said.

Redshirt freshman Avery Peterson said he does not feel any pressure entering the season, emphasizing that the most important thing on his mind is “learning the plays and getting timing down with the quarterbacks.”

LSU fans were dazzled by the Tiger aerial assault on offense last season. It’s time for those same fans to learn some new names because the next generation of LSU receivers is ready to take the stage.

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