Red shirt junior Justin McMillian attempts a pass during a drill at LSU fall camp. McMillian, a Texas native, is one of two scholarship quarterbacks that have decided to transfer from LSU in the past week. (Photo courtesy of LSU Sports)
Then there were two
BATON ROUGE -- Despite all of the rhetoric coming out of Baton Rouge that the quarterback race was not settled and all four scholarship players at that position still had a shot at being named the opening day starter, two of those players decided to transfer out.
On Tuesday afternoon, red-shirt freshman Lowell Narcisse announced that he would not be playing for the purple and gold any longer. The very next day, left-handed throwing Texas native Justin McMillan said his final farewell to the Tigers.
Narcisse stated in his announcement that “I just had to do what’s best for me as far as my future and as far as showcasing my abilities.” Narcisse also reiterated that LSU was his dream school but he felt “like it was the best thing for me to get a fresh start.”
McMillian’s departure statement was a little more business like. McMillian thanked former head coach Les Miles and former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron but did not mention anyone on the current staff.
“I am passionate about this game, and I plan to give my complete dedication to the next program, just as I have given to LSU,” McMillan wrote as he announced his transfer Wednesday morning.
Narcisse also announced on Thursday that he will be transferring to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. McMillian, who earned his degree this summer is eligible to play immediately under NCAA graduate transfer rules. No word as of yet as to where he may land.
LSU is now left with two remaining scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow and sophomore Myles Brennan. Besides Burrow and Brennan, the Tigers have sophomore walk-on Andrew Sale, true freshman Jordan Loving and newly acquired walk-on Alex Aucoin.
Sale played at Tennessee Tech for one year, Loving is a Riverside High product, and Aucoin guided Parkview Baptist last season.
On Wednesday, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said that he could not remember a time in his career when a team faced a quarterback issue similar to what LSU is dealing with now.
“I’m concerned with having two guys on scholarship,” Orgeron said during a news conference Wednesday. “But I do believe that Andre and Jordan will be capable backups. We can train them. Obviously, we’ll have to keep them healthy. But there is a concern.”
McMillan and Narcisse’s decisions to transfer came after Saturday’s scrimmage, Orgeron said, when the coaching staff gave each player a performance grade, which is standard procedure after scrimmages.
Those grades are not known at this time. But, it would be very interesting to see where each of the quarterbacks fell in pecking order after that scrimmage. Obviously, those grades did not sit well with both McMillian and Narcisse.
Orgeron stated that he did talk to both quarterbacks about their decision to transfer and wished them luck.
“I don’t blame them,” Orgeron said. “If they see they’re not going to be the starting quarterback, they want to leave. We gave them some grades, and there was a pecking order. But there was no decision made, and they decided they wanted to go. I supported them, talked to them, and wished them the best.”
With the departure of McMillian and Narcisse, offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger will now have the opportunity to finalize the direction the offense is to move in. With Burrow and Brennan now left, LSU will more than likely gear their game to a pro-style attack.
“Now we have two weeks to look at what Joe can do, what Myles can do, and streamline the plays that we’re running,” Orgeron said.
LSU has not had fewer than five quarterbacks on its roster since the program carried four total quarterbacks in each of the 1998 and 1999 seasons.
LSU went a combined 7-15 in those two seasons, and then-cocah Gerry DiNardo was fired after the Tigers went 3-8 in 1999.
The last time LSU had just two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster was in 2014, when the Tigers went 8-5 with Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris at quarterback. At that time the roster had six total quarterbacks.
Orgeron said he is open to bringing in walk-on quarterbacks “if we could,” but the program can no longer sign any scholarship players. It used all 25 of its scholarships that the NCAA permits teams to award to players each season.
“We feel good about the two quarterbacks we have and we’re happy to have them,” Orgeron said.