BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - LSU great and former NFL wide receiver Michael Clayton recently visited with WAFB-TV and gave his thoughts on the current state of Tiger football. Clayton was at Christian Life High School Tuesday, assisting his alma matter with a youth football camp.
During his days at LSU (2001-2003) Clayton played with quarterbacks such as Rohan Davey and Matt Mauck, who both broke their share of school records. Davey passed for a program best 3,347 yards in 2001, while Mauck fired an LSU best 28 touchdowns in 2003. LSU won the SEC Championship and BCS national championship those two seasons, respectively. That's a far cry from the quarterback play the Tigers have received lately.
"Well, I think we've always had a bit of a situation at quarterback, a quarterback situation. I was blessed to have Rohan Davey, even Matt Mauck was a good distributor of the football," Clayton said. "And we just had guys who were willing to come in and they had to fight for their positions. They owned it, the whole team respected them. Their position wasn't given to them. And I think we've had a few quarterbacks come in, great quarterbacks, great talents, but they didn't have to work really, for their position. They were just kind of handed their position. And when you have that kind of competition, that's what makes everyone around you better. And that's what we were fortunate to have."
Junior Anthony Jennings (although suspended from the team at moment) and sophomore Brandon Harris are expected to battle it out for the starting spot this season. Last summer the two were engaged in a similar competition, with Jennings not being named the starter until just before the season opener against Wisconsin. Jennings received the lion's share of the snaps in 2014 and completed less than 50% of his passes. In a heartbreaking 20-13 overtime setback to Alabama in Tiger Stadium, LSU's anemic passing attack was especially damaging, as Jennings finished 8-26 through the air with a touchdown and an interception. The Tigers passing numbers were ranked near the bottom of the nation.
"We have to get that position ironed out. That is the most important position on the field, hands down," Clayton continued. "That guy has to be a guy that's committed to the program, willing to work harder than anybody, stay longer than anybody. And it takes time to develop that young guy. Rohan had to develop into that guy over time. And I think with the coaches that we have, it's a tremendous opportunity for those guys to get there."
Clayton finished his LSU career with 182 receptions for 2,582 yards and 21 touchdowns.