Former Parkway star Brandon Harris discusses his progress at LSU

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Terri Eddington/Legacy Photography

Russell Hedges
rhedges@bossierpress.com

If you follow LSU football, then you know the conventional wisdom among members of the media is that former Parkway star Brandon Harris will be the starting quarterback in the opener against McNeese State on Sept. 5 in Tiger Stadium.
“Nothing is official, but Brandon Harris leads the LSU QB race,” was the headline on a recent story on ESPN.com.
Harris, however, isn’t ready to claim to starting job, and LSU coach Les Miles may not name his starter until just before the McNeese State game.
“I haven’t earned the starting spot,” Harris said during LSU’s Media Day last Saturday.
Needless to say, Harris was one of the most popular players at Media Day.
The sophomore is once again in a battle with junior Anthony Jennings for the starting job.
Jennings won the job during the 2014 preseason. After performing well coming off the bench against Mississippi State and New Mexico State, Harris got his chance with a start against Auburn. He was back on the bench after the Tigers’ 41-7 loss and played sparingly the rest of the season.
Surrounded by reporters, Harris talked about the upcoming season and the progress he’s made.
Harris worked with so-called quarterback guru George Whitfield for the second straight summer.
“I’ve been working on my footwork and continuing to improve on my accuracy, not gunning the ball to the guys,” he said. “They come to the ball, so they can just catch the ball and run underneath and do different things like that.
“In reality that’s what it’s all about. I can throw the ball hard every game, but if you give them a nice comfortable ball and let them run with it and just give it accurately they can run with it.”
Harris said he’s learning that a short pass can be just as effective as a long throw downfield with the weapons the Tigers have in their backfield.
“I think not trying to look for a long shot down the field every play, taking the ball down with (running backs) Leonard (Fournette), Derrius (Guice) and others and giving them the opportunity to catch it and run,” he said.
Harris said last Friday’s scrimmage was an eye-opener.
“I kind of figured it out that if you kick it down to them they can carry it a long distance,” he said.
Miles has certainly taken notice of Harris’ progress.
“I think a lot of lights went on in the spring,” he said. “When you can sit back and reflect on any season, especially a season that has some ups and downs, if you’re the right kind of kid and the right kind of person, you’re going to reflect, take it personally to a degree and you’re going to let that help you grow.
“I think both of those guys shouldered everything that took place. That’s part of every quarterback’s maturation—the good ones at least. I think some lights started to come on last spring.”
Jennings, who was briefly suspended from the team during the summer because of a legal issue that’s since been resolved, likes what he’s seen of Harris.
“I think he’s throwing the ball with more touch,” he said “He’s getting the drops and getting the reads correctly and on a more consistent basis. Everyone knows he has the talent, so I think he’s coming in with a different mindset and I think he’s been playing very well throughout fall camp.”
One of the major criticisms during LSU’s 8-5 campaign last season was that the Tigers didn’t have much of a passing game to complement a strong running attack.
“We came in with a mindset that we wanted to get better and have a dominant offense with our running game to passing the ball as well,” Harris said. “The guys have really gone in and the receivers fought hard this summer. I was tough on them by getting them up to catch passes with me every chance I got. All in all we had a great summer and a great fall camp.”
One of the major criticisms during LSU’s 8-5 campaign last season was that the Tigers didn’t have much of a passing game to complement a strong running attack.
“We came in with a mindset that we wanted to get better and have a dominant offense with our running game to passing the ball as well,” Harris said. “The guys have really gone in and the receivers fought hard this summer. I was tough on them by getting them up to catch passes with me every chance I got. All in all we had a great summer and a great fall camp.”

— Russell Hedges, rhedges@bossierpress.com