LSU football showcases juniors returning for 2016
BATON ROUGE – LSU coach Les Miles along with a handful of the Tiger juniors that have opted to return to school for another year met with members of the media on Friday afternoon to discuss their decision.
Miles was joined at the press conference on Friday by cornerback Tre’Davious White, linebacker Kendell Beckwith, defensive end Lewis Neal, defensive tackle Christian LaCouture and center Ethan Pocic. The return of these five players along with the remaining juniors will give the Tigers 19 scholarship seniors for the 2016 season, the most for LSU since Miles’ first year in 2005 when they had 19 seniors on the squad.
LSU only had one player off the 2015 team declare early for the draft – junior offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins. It’s the fewest early departures for LSU since 2009 when defensive back Chad Jones was the Tigers’ lone early entree.
The following are comments from Miles, LaCouture and Neal about their decision to return to school for another year:
Head coach Les Miles statement:
“Anytime you make a decision of this magnitude, you certainly lean on your family and you lean on those loved ones. We recognize as a coaching staff that this is their decision. It’s a personal decision. We pass along information. We try to advise as best we can but again it’s their decision. They felt as a group that there is just more to accomplish. Each of these guys can improve their draft position; get their degrees buy next December.
“They put a premium on their education, their teammates and they also want to play in a championship game. The NFL will be there for these guys. They are going to postpone wealth with the idea that there is more to do. Anytime you do that it speaks to the quality of the people. This means to this football team that 19 seniors will return next year and 18 starters. We will return every rushing yard and 95 percent of our passing yards.
“Kendell Beckwith is a two-year starter and a returning leading tackler. He is really the kind of glue of the defense. Tre’Davious White is a 3.0 student and SEC Academic Honor Roll member. He is a three-year starter and our punt returner. He is one of the very skilled corners in our conference. Ethan Pocic is a two-year starter on offense. He has great knowledge of the line. He was on the second team All-SEC and also an SEC Academic Honor Roll member. He gives great experience to the interior and great experience to the line. He can really play any of the five positions.
“On the defensive end, Lewis Neal was among the SEC leaders in sacks with eight sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. Christian LaCouture was a three-year starter and one of those guys that made it awfully tough for our opponents to win the football off the center. He is another SEC Academic Honor Roll member. Ricky Jefferson is not with us but was a 32 game participant and 10 game starter with 65 tackles and three interceptions. It’s a great group. It’s a great nucleus for a championship team. We have some young guys to go alongside them. They’ll be awfully happy with this decision.”
Defensive tackle Christian LaCouture statement:
“After talking it over with my coaches and family, I decided to return for my senior year of college. LSU has really been a dream come true for me. To play Division I at the highest level in the SEC is really a dream come true for me. We feel after talking it over that we have a real legitimate shot to make the playoff and win a national championship. That’s something that when we came to LSU we expect. We expect to play at the highest level and play in big time ball games. We expect to go out there and win the national championship. We have one more time to go. At LSU we expect to win championships and we want to leave here with one. With that being said, I really want to thank all of my coaches for getting me to this point in my life. I especially want to thank Coach Miles for believing in me and offering me a scholarship to play football at the best university in the country. I also want to thank my teammates for being the best teammates I could ever have. Through the ups and downs, I know I can always count on them. Last but not least I want to thank my family. Through everything I know that my mom, dad and sister will be by my side through whatever it is. I wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for them. They mean the world to me. “
Defensive end Lewis Neal statement:
“I’m just happy to be back because it’s been a great feeling to play for a school like LSU. When I was growing up, I never watched LSU or football like that. I played basketball a lot. When I was recruited by Coach Miles, he gave me the opportunity to come and get a great education and play at a high level. I had no choice but to take it. I came here to get a degree and finish what I started. Just a chance to play with these amazing guys and the bond we have, you only get one shot at that. You don’t get that back. When you step out of college it’s the real world. Coming back and having that family and friendship with everybody on the team and enjoying that because you have to cherish these moments. You only get these moments once in your life. You have to cherish these moments and play great football for LSU to get a national championship. The talent that we have coming back is amazing. We have a really good shot. I want to be a part of it. That’s another reason why we decided to come back. Like I said, I have to thank Coach Miles. We are going to do our best for him and our teammates and the state of Louisiana and the university. We are going to do our jobs to go out and get a championship (next) year.