There isn’t much of a debate as to who the starter will be when the season opener against Florida State arrives. But the Tigers know that Jayden Daniels is around for only one more year and to preserve their strong future at the position, a lot of that hinges on Garrett Nussmeier.
The now redshirt sophomore is heading into year three with the program and proved with his play last year that he could probably start at many other schools around the country. But he elected to return to LSU because of his love for the school and there’s a lot of genuine excitement as to how he fits into this offense with another year of development.
Brian Kelly was asked about the quarterback room while previewing the spring ahead and naturally, Nussmeier’s name came up. Despite having what Kelly describes as “corrective surgery” following the 2022 season, Nussmeier was out on Thursday for the first day of practice and should be cleared for full contact in the coming week.
While asked about the transfer of Walker Howard, Kelly’s answer also pertains to Nussmeier and the importance of holding on to the talented former top-100 recruit beyond the second transfer portal window.
“You’re ready for everything and you wanna do a great job of retention and sometimes it’s out of your hands. Garrett was out there today. He was out there throwing the football and he’ll probably be another week before he’s full go,” Kelly said. “I think he’s excited. So we’ve got three quarterbacks that got a lot of work in the spring and I think we’re in a good place.”
That third quarterback Kelly is referring to is true freshman Rickie Collins, who has enrolled early and is already learning about the positives of that decision, particularly for that position. There are a few different pillars that Kelly broke down on Thursday as to why Collins being on campus for spring ball is extremely important for his development.
For starters, the signaling is usually “foreign” to high school quarterbacks when they reach the college level so getting to school early and starting the process of learning that part of the game is crucial. Second is the ability to start working with quarterbacks coach Joe Sloan and the “different voice” he provides Collins in his development.
“Trying to put it together in a faster environment. Everything’s quicker and mid-year enrollment covers everything from the intellectual development, to the physical development in the weight room to the mental development and dealing with the ups and downs to college life for a guy that should still be in high school,” Kelly said.
That last point comes down to all 13 early enrollees who are on campus at the moment but for Collins, who plays the most critical position in the sport, getting out in front of the offense and understanding what’s being asked will only aid his growth as a passer. On the field, the arm talent is unquestionable for Collins as he delivered multiple on point passes during the short period of individual drills open to the media.
Daniels is the clear starter as of now but having a player like Nussmeier behind him to compete will take this group to another level. The Tigers are light on running backs and offensive linemen at the moment so it will be difficult to ascertain any sweeping takeaways from this offense this spring, which is a little bit of an issue considering how great of a position this offense was after the offseason moves that were made.
The future of this room is in the hands of both Nussmeier and Collins, so having those guys in the right frame of mind and ready to contribute this spring is going to be necessary.