LSU quarterback Myles Brennan finally reaches the end zone with his weight gain
BATON ROUGE - LSU quarterback Myles Brennan has flattened the curve.
Unfortunately, he was not talking about the COVID-19 pandemic. The red-shirt junior from Long Beach, Miss., was talking about his struggles since 2017 against the skinny virus.
Brennan signed at LSU in February of 2017 out of St. Stanislaus High in Bay St. Louis, Miss., and was listed at 6-foot-3 and a generous 180 pounds. He was closer to 170. For the next three years, he tried to fatten his lack of curves.
He ate pizza and Raising Cane's fried chicken late at night, followed by a few high calorie breakfast sandwiches and a shake and six or seven meals a day in all.
When he could, he would eat at Commander's Palace - the five-star classic restaurant long operated in New Orleans by his great aunt and food celebrity Ella Brennan, who passed away in 2018. His favorite dish there is the "Filet Stanley," which is seared filet mignon with a demi-glace (rich brown sauce), mushrooms and a creamy horseradish sauce that is finished off with two baked banana halves.
It worked. He would put weight on, but then lose it. Finally, though, it appears to have stuck.
"Now, I'm 218 to 220," he said on a teleconference Wednesday two days after the Tigers opened practice for the 2020 season. "To this point, it has been difficult. Now, I feel I've flattened my curve a bit. I hit 222 during quarantine, and I was 220 when I came back to LSU in June."
He had kept it on.
"I took a deep breath and was like, 'I'm getting somewhere this season,'" he said.
And it is still on. Now, he should be able to absorb some Southeastern Conference hits, and that is particularly necessary now as the Tigers are scheduled to play 10 SEC games this season, starting with Mississippi State at home on Sept. 26.
The arm and accuracy were always there, though Brennan has not played in a game that was in any doubt since 2017.
"Myles has had a great summer. Great leadership," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said.
"We always knew Myles had a very strong arm, and it's cool to see how he's kind of grown into his role," said senior safety JaCoby Stevens. "I remember when we came into together, I was always excited for Myles because he was breaking a lot of records in Mississippi."
Brennan set Mississippi prep career records for passing yards with 15,138, touchdowns with 166 and total offense with 16,168 yards at St. Stanislaus.
As Danny Etling's backup in 2017 at LSU, he completed 14 of 24 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. He was red-shirted in 2018 behind starter Joe Burrow before completing 24-of-40 passes for 353 yards and a touchdown with an interception last season behind Burrow.
"He came in and waited his turn," Stevens said. "He adjusted to the circumstances. He could have been one of those guys who decided to leave and enter the transfer portal, but he stuck it out. And now he's the guy. We expect to see big things from Myles."
There were a lot of circumstances.
Brennan committed in April of 2016, but the head coach and offensive coordinator who recruited him to LSU - Les Miles and Cam Cameron - were fired the following September. Defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron became the interim head coach, and tight ends coach Steve Ensminger was elevated to offensive coordinator.
Orgeron remained the head coach, but he replaced Ensminger with Matt Canada in December of 2016.
Orgeron fired Canada late in the 2017 regular season and replaced him after the bowl game with Ensminger. Then in January of 2019, Orgeron hired passing game coordinator Joe Brady from the New Orleans Saints with Ensminger staying as offensive coordinator.
After Burrow won the Heisman Trophy and LSU won the national championship at 15-0 last season with one of the greatest passing offenses in NCAA history, Brady became the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers in the NFL.
LSU's new pass game coordinator Scott Linehan is Brennan's fourth coordinator at LSU in four years.
"I committed under Les and Coach Cameron," Brennan said. "They ended up getting fired. Come in with Coach Canada, and then he's gone. Then Coach Ensminger comes in with his offense. Then Coach Brady brings his offense. Then here we are, and COVID gets in the way. All that is just going to prepare me to be a better person in the end and be stronger."
COVID-19 has meant less field time, but more film time.
"I've lost track of how many times we've installed the offense now," Brennan said.
He has not lost track of Ensminger, LSU's designated offensive coordinator survivor.
"It helps a lot," he said. "He has been here since day one. He's played the position, and he's played it here. When he gives advice, it's coming from a first-hand guy who has been through it here. This is my fourth year with him in the same room, and it's pretty nice."
Brennan considered leaving the table, but not for long.
"I thought about it. I wouldn't say a lot, but it has crossed my mind in previous years," he said. "But there's a reason I came here. I wasn't going to let adversity or any challenges get in the way and make me crumble."