Local in QB battle at LSU

Sophomore quarterback Andrew Hatch is locked in a three-man race to start for defending national champion Louisiana State this season, and his chances keep looking better.

The Cimarron-Memorial High School graduate is listed first on the depth chart and is the only quarterback on scholarship at LSU who has played a down in college. Plus, one of his rivals is sidelined with a leg injury.

Still, nothing is guaranteed in Hatch’s competition with Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson. The Tigers might even play two quarterbacks this fall.

“I’m comfortable with whatever the coaches think is best for the team because that’s what it’s about,” the 22-year-old Hatch told reporters at LSU’s media day. “It’s about this team. It’s not about any individual. Football is a team sport. It’s the ultimate team sport.”

Previous requests by the Review-Journal to interview Hatch were denied. Tigers coach Les Miles keeps his quarterbacks mostly off limits to the media, even those who regularly cover the team.

Hatch took an unusual route to the Southeastern Conference powerhouse.

He began his college career at Harvard, quarterbacking its junior varsity squad in 2005, but then left for what was supposed to be a two-year Mormon mission in Chile.

Hatch injured his knee five months into the mission while playing soccer and returned to the United States for surgery.

Rather than go back to Harvard, Hatch contacted new LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, who told Hatch he first had “to walk on and earn the scholarship.”

Crowton had recruited Hatch out of Cimarron before he was forced to resign as Brigham Young’s coach in 2004.

Colleges didn’t show a lot of interest in Hatch at Cimarron because of his size and the team’s run-first offense, but Crowton scouted a game and liked the way Hatch took charge. Crowton also saw that the quarterback’s parents were tall and figured the 6-foot-1-inch, 190-pound Hatch would grow. Hatch now is 6-4 and 224 pounds.

“I think the thing that stands out about him is he’ll race you to the drinking fountains,” Crowton said. “He’s so competitive to the details of things.”

LSU’s season doesn’t begin until Aug. 30 at home against Appalachian State, but Hatch definitely is in a competition now. He quarterbacked the first-team offense at LSU’s scrimmage Tuesday.

Lee, a redshirt freshman, is out indefinitely with a leg injury, and the other quarterback in the race, Jefferson, is an incoming freshman.

So Hatch appears to have an excellent chance to claim the job.

“You always have to set your goals high and you always have to work hard,” Hatch said. “Obviously, your goal as a football player and what you want to accomplish is to get on the field and play.

“I set the goal, and I’ve been focusing on working as hard as I can.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914.

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