Scott Rabalais: Brian Kelly’s Words About Kayshon Boutte Indicate Work In Progress, Not Problems | USL

It was arguably the most surprising thing LSU football coach Brian Kelly said Wednesday during his pre-spring practice press conference.

Asked about his relationship with star receiver Kayshon Boutte, Kelly gathered the words he wanted to use in his head for a moment, then replied, “I would say I know his last name right now.”

Immediately you could hear alarm bells ringing across Tiger Nation: “What does he mean, I know his last name?” “How does he not have a better relationship with arguably LSU’s biggest star player?” “This new trainer looks completely verified!”

You could look for a paper bag to treat your hyperventilation, or you could try to figure out what Kelly was trying to say.

What he was trying to say – and his subsequent comments confirmed it from my point of view – is that he only partially knows Kayshon Boutte (full name) the person, the player. Their relationship has a long way to go, as does Boutte’s place in the team.

Everyone, from players to LSU staffers to those of us in the media, are learning how Kelly works. What he expects. Clearly, one thing he expects is responsibility, whether you’re able to go full speed for a game or practice, in a contactless red jersey (as we saw in the first session of the game). spring training on Thursday, red replaced gold as non-contact jersey color of your choice) or not being able to practice at all.

And Boutte, who fell in October at Kentucky with a season-ending ankle injury, is unable to practice. In fact, Kelly revealed on Wednesday, Boutte has had a second surgery since being injured and it has hampered his reintegration into the team.

“He’s a great player,” Kelly said. ” He’s a good boy. But it was a tough time for him. What happens is that you tend to get distracted because you’re not involved in everything. He learns that you have to be involved in everything, whether you are injured or not. It’s a process he goes through. We are seeing some very good changes.

Kelly then referred to a conversation he had with Boutte in the LSU practice room on Wednesday morning.

“We had a good conversation,” Kelly said. “He’s on top of his studies and he’s making good progress.”

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Under former coach Ed Orgeron, injured players had a lot more leeway. Some were still involved in practice and very engaged with the team. Some were not. And for star players like Boutte, the latitude has widened even further.

Do not be mistaken. Kelly recognizes Boutte’s talent, what he has meant to the LSU team in the past and what he could mean this season. Despite only playing in six games in 2021, Boutte was still the Tigers’ leading receiver with 38 catches for 509 yards and nine touchdowns.

But if there’s ever a time for a coach to send a lasting message about accountability to the whole team, it’s now when everyone gets used to the ground rules. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Boutte was seen on the training grounds on Thursday, not participating in passing drills like the healthy receivers, but clearly engaged in what Kelly would undoubtedly call a productive activity.

“The good thing is that the operation was successful,” Kelly said. “He’s in a walking boot right now. It really is the most important thing.

“The rest of this stuff, we’ll sort it out between the two of us. I don’t have a hard head. He’s a good player. »

I took the “I’m not that stubborn” comment to mean that Kelly isn’t going to try to model Boutte to the point where he doesn’t want to play for the Tigers. To make this offense as productive as possible, no matter the quarterback — and as Kelly said, based on seniority, Myles Brennan took the first spring snap — LSU needs a healthy Boutte and happy in the bosom.

Boutte was taken care of in name, image and likeness in January, signing an NIL deal with prominent local lawyer Gordon McKernan at a time when it was feared that other schools would not attract Boutte via the transfer portal.

He is always there. He still has a ways to go to be back in position to be the Southeastern Conference record receiver that he was. The whole situation, from his injury to whether he would stay at LSU, was pretty tough.

But it’s not time for LSU fans to panic just yet. The bet is that when Kelly is asked about Boutte in August, he will say something to the effect that he knows his full name.

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