LSU entered spring practice having lost its top two receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. That prolific duo combined for 2,345 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2013, and finding ways to replace that production has been one of head coach Les Miles' priorities during the offseason.
The Tigers leading returning receiver, Travin Dural, might not have raised many eyebrows with his statistics from last fall. As a redshirt freshman, Dural caught seven passes for 145 yards and two scores. This spring, however, Dural has emerged a potentially major component of LSU's passing attack.
The 6-foot-2, 182-pounder redshirted in 2012 after injuring his knee during preseason camp. Last year, Dural bounced back and saw playing time in 12 games. Still, he made his biggest impact in the regular-season finale against Arkansas on Nov. 29. With 1:15 to play, Dural hauled in a 49-yard, go-ahead touchdown from quarterback Anthony Jennings, who had been inserted in the fourth quarter in place of injured starter Zach Mettenberger. Dural's score lifted LSU to a 31-27 victory.
Dural carried that momentum into spring practice, as he's been a solid playmaking threat in scrimmages. That's thanks, in no small part, to his speed. LSU says Dural runs a sub-4.4 40. While a member of the track team at Breaux Bridge (La.) High, he won the 200-meter event at the Louisiana state meet.
This spring, Dural caught a touchdown pass in each of the Tigers' first two scrimmages, but he capped the practices with an explosive effort in LSU's spring game. The Tigers' entire receiving corps recorded seven catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns; Dural had five of those receptions for 130 yards and both scores.
After the spring game, Miles was quick to praise Dural's effort.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron went a step further.
Whether or not Dural's spring production transfers to the regular season remains to be seen. Much of that could depend on LSU's eventual starting quarterback. Jennings and freshman Brandon Harris continue to battle it out, and Harris made a big impression with his play in the spring game. But if Dural's work ethic is any indication, he could be in for bigger things come fall.