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LSU preparing without trio of defensive underclassmen

[ 0 ] December 19, 2013 |

By Glenn Guilbeau
Gannett Louisana

BATON ROUGE, La. – Three LSU defensive backs are not participating in Outback Bowl practices, including regular contributor Micah Eugene, who has left the team.

Eugene, a sophomore who started two games at safety this season and played regularly but often struggled, “will not be playing in the bowl or coming back for next season,” LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette told Gannett Louisiana on Thursday.

Redshirt freshman cornerback Derrick Raymond and sophomore safety Jerqwinick Sandolph have not practiced since Monday, when LSU began bowl workouts, and they will not travel to Tampa, Fla., for the bowl and may not return to LSU for next season.

“I don’t know as far as long term,” Bonnette said.

The No. 14 Tigers (9-3) play Iowa (8-4) at noon Jan. 1 in the Outback Bowl.

Former LSU safety Micah Eugene. (USA TODAY Sports photo)

Former LSU safety Micah Eugene. (USA TODAY Sports photo)

LSU coach Les Miles has not commented on the three players, but he was evasive Monday when asked about his roster.

“Everybody was there that we expected to be there,” Miles said in his opening comments to reporters after Monday’s workout, which was true as he has known for some time that Eugene, Raymond and Sandolph would not be at bowl practices.

“So, questions?” he asked.

“You always say that slyly,” a television reporter said. “Was there someone you were not expecting to not be there?”

Miles exhaled impatiently and said, “No, we expected them to all be there.”

Eugene started the Kent State and Auburn games in weeks three and four, but he did not start again. His playing time gradually diminished as the season went on as he was often not lined up in the right spot before plays. He finished the season with 33 tackles in 10 games, three tackles for loss, a sack, two pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.

Raymond and Sandolph played sparingly and usually on special teams. None of the three were highly recruited out of high school.

LSU may be making room for much higher-ranked defensive backs for the Class of 2014 as there are two safeties and a cornerback in the Tigers’ list of 16 commitments. That includes Edward Paris of Mansfield, Texas, the No. 8-ranked safety in the nation by Rivals.com, John Battle, the No. 21 cornerback in the nation, and Devin Voorhies, the No. 16 ranked player at the athlete designation.

LSU is also recruiting the No. 3 cornerback in the nation and No. 18 overall prospect in Tony Brown of Ozen High in Beaumont, Texas, as well as Jamal Adams, the No. 3 safety in the country and 35th overall prospect out of Hebron High in Lewisville, Texas.

All-American: LSU wide receiver/kick returner Odell Beckham Jr., was named a first team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America on Thursday as a kick returner. The junior from New Orleans is the 20th first team All-American from LSU since Miles took over in 2005.

LSU No. 7 for 2014: NationalChamps.net has ranked LSU No. 7 in the nation going into 2014 in its annual Early Bird Preview.

“One of the biggest jumps this year is LSU into this top-10 discussion even with the departure of their finally-found passing quarterback Zach Mettenberger,” the website states. “The Bayou Bengals are rich with southern talent from top to bottom.”

Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, Stanford, Oregon and Michigan State made up the top six. Ohio State, Baylor and Central Florida rounded out the top 10. Iowa, was one of 12 schools also receiving consideration for the poll.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

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