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Better Know a Freshman: Myles Brennan

LSU found its QB of the future and probably the present.

LSU’s all-time leading passer never passed for 3,000 yards in a single season. In fact, only three LSU quarterbacks have broken the 3,000-yard barrier in a season, each once. QB ineptitude is actually the sister city to Baton Rouge. If we put LSU QB play in context of the national landscape, it’s a pretty low bar to cross to be an all-time Tiger great.

Over the past decade, quarterback play seemed to dip to an all-time low. True, we had outstanding singular seasons from Jamarcus Russell and Zach Mettenberger, but they looked more like exceptions than the rule. Those names were surrounded by players like Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson, Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris. At this point, hitting baseline competence, similar to what Danny Etling did last season, is a welcome occurrence.

Thus, LSU fan’s expectations are poisoned. There’s no longer faith that a talented QB could be ready to emerge and take LSU to the next level. We’ve heard that song before. Yet, a new era is upon us, complete with a shiny, expensive new offensive coordinator, that will look to break the mold.

Myles Brennan may be his mold breaker.

Back of the Card

110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has "can’t miss" talent.

100 - 98 = Five-star prospect. One of the top 30 players in the nation. This player has excellent pro-potential and should emerge as one of the best in the country before the end of his career. There will be 32 prospects ranked in this range in every football class to mirror the first round of the NFL Draft.

97 - 90 = Four-star prospect. One of the top 300 players in the nation. This prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. He is an All-American candidate who is projected to play professionally.

89 - 80 = Three-star prospect. One of the top 10% players in the nation. This player will develop into a reliable starter for his college team and is among the best players in his region of the country. Many three-stars have significant pro potential.

79 - below = Two-star prospect. This player makes up the bulk of Division I rosters. He may have little pro-potential, but is likely to become a role player for his respective school.

247 Composite Ranking: ****
247 Composite Rating: .9347

Brennan finished ranked 152nd in the 247 Composite and as the No. 6 overall pro-style QB. He earned an invite to the Under Armour All-American game. He finished as an Elite 11 finalist, where he was voted strongest arm by his counselors. Trent Dilfer compared him to Jared Goff. His HS stats are downright gaudy:

Myles Brennan HS Stats

2016 275 399 3982 48 3 64 455 9
2015 303 486 5248 53 8 71 497 8
2014 409 582 5797 64 14 53 189 6
TOTAL 987 1467 15027 165 25 188 1141 23

Throwing 165 TD passes in three seasons is #good. He attempted nearly 1,000 passes in his prep career, which is a far cry from many quarterbacks recruited in the Miles era. WLOX named Brennan the Offensive Player of the Year in the state of Mississippi after he lead his team to the state championship as a Sophomore.

When given the opportunity to display his talents vs. the nation’s elite, Brennan stepped into the spotlight. Not only was he named a top performer during practice, he narrowly finished second in the QB Pass Attack Competition, to four-star Texas A&M signee Kellen Mond. His work during the week earned him captain status for the game, where he went 7 for 13 for 111 yards passing. Evaluators on site praised Brennan’s composure and fundamentals. Former FSU QB and Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward praised Brennan, acknowledging his mobility, which is not often discussed. Ward acknowledged the biggest missing piece right now is Brennan’s lithe frame, which needs 30+ pounds of additional muscle.

On the Field

Already There: Arm Strength, Accuracy, Poise, Mechanics, Spins It, Sneaky Mobility

Working on It: Filling Out, Being a College QB

Doesn’t Have It: Nothing

Already There

Arm Strength: Pretty excited to see continued growth here as Brennan adds good weight (more on that in a moment), but he’s got a pretty live arm naturally. :24 you can see he gets put in position to release from a bad arm angle and doesn’t really get to step into the throw, but he’s still able to torque his hips and generate power (and accuracy!) on the deep throw down the sideline. Where I really like to see arm strength is on deep sideline tosses. How much juice a QB can get into the ball on those throws will often define his ability at the next two levels. Which is what makes :31 so promising. Brennan’s front foot is on the 31-yard line as he stands perfectly between the hashes. He tosses a deep out dead on the money to the 3-yard line. That’s a good 40+ yard toss on a rope, into a decently well-covered receiver. He’s gifted.

Accuracy: There’s not many bad throws on the reel (it’s a highlight, duh), but again and again Brennan’s ball placement is next level. Loads of HS QBs manufacture accuracy in air-raid systems built on short throws. A lot can even generate solid numbers through dropping rainbows deep to talented WRs that run under the ball. Brennan is neither a designed short thrower or lollipop aggregator. Brennan’s accuracy is on display in all types of throws at all types of distances. He can teardrop one into his receiver’s lap like at :44. He can rope into the end zone on the outside shoulder of his draped receiver at :50. He can do it on the run like he does at :56. He can do it under pressure like in 1:21. He can drop it between a pair of defenders like he does at 2:46. Off-balance, rolling left, on a busted play is absolutely no reason to not be deadly accurate to Myles at 3:54. Love the high ball, where only his guy can get it at 4:09. And finally, 4:16 is exactly what you want to see: staring down pressure and knowing you will get hit, taking a huge shot and delivering the ball to a well-covered target down the seam. Unreal.

Poise: First play on the reel, :05, and you see Brennan isn’t really one to hit the panic button. Despite being bombarded with instantaneous pressure, Brennan steps up through the pressure, scrambles and still manages to get a pass off for a lengthy TD completion. Stuff like how he stands in the pocket at 4:16 is what gets you excited about his potential. He knows the jawbreaker is coming, but he stands tall and delivers the ball. And 4:56. Yes, it’s a wide open target, but he steps up through the pressure, which is something you see him do consistently.

Mechanics: Something which plagued many of the QBs under Miles, Brennan has a really smooth, over the top throwing delivery that should transition well up the next two levels. I love everything I see :18 in. Gripping the ball with two hands, chest height. He’s standing tall in the pocket, on his toes, scanning the field ready to deliver a strike. When it’s time to deliver the ball, Brennan turns his body to his target, plants his feet and flicks his wrist with an easy delivery. The pass, of course, drops in perfectly.

One thing I love is that he pretty consistently squares up to the target. Even when flushed and forced to be on the move, he’s always going to get his body set toward his receiving target. 6:57, which is a disaster on many levels, watch how he squares his shoulders to make the throw. It’s a big reason he’s able to maintain such great accuracy. It really all drives from outstanding footwork, which consistently keeps him in tremendous position to make throws.

Spins It: Brennan throws a gorgeous ball. The ball rarely comes out awkward and always a crisp, easy spiral, which is delicious for receivers. Watch the reel and you can see how catchable of a ball Brennan throws. And these aren’t 4 and 5 star WRs he’s throwing to here. Local media back up what the tape shows:

Sneaky Mobility: No coach is gonna build a run game around Brennan’s abilities, but he’s not Tom Brady either. Brennan has some escapability and flashes plenty of ability to make defenses pay with his legs if they leave running lanes open. It also means you can do some creative things with him in Matt Canada’s offense whether it be on bootlegs or simply in the read-option game. More often than not he’ll be the constraint, but you lull teams with that handoff 5, 6, 7 times and Brennan could pop you for a big gain. There’s plenty of examples throughout, but 3:07, 3:14, 3:31, 3:54, 4:02, etc.

Working On It

Filling Out: Dude is wiry. He listed at 6-3, 180 in high school, and I’d guess he was more like a buck 65. The current LSU roster lists him as 194 pounds. You can see in his arms that he’s definitely started to accumulate more mass, but he’s still wispy. Look at this pic of he and Narcisse together:

He looks like a college freshman before discovering booze and Narcisse looks like a seasoned Junior. This is, by far, the biggest area he’ll need growth. It looks like he’s already putting in the effort, but there’s more to be done. He not only needs the size to take the hits, but to keep amping up the velocity on his throws.

Being a College QB: Well, no shit. It’s just a different ball game. Impressive as his reel may be, he’s still tossing to a lot of streaking targets. He flashes the ability to throw under duress, but will he still in front of 120,000 screaming fans while he plays on national television? You can never really know what will happen when the lights go on, something Matt Canada alluded to just yesterday. He’s young. He’s green.

Poseur’s 80s Movie Comparison

There can be only one.

As Ricky Bobby reminds us, Highlander won an Academy Award for being the greatest movie of all time. The position of LSU quarterback is not nearly as lauded as that of The Highlander, but we do need to follow Christopher Lambert’s lead and kill every pretender to the throne. Myles Brennan is here. He is the only LSU quarterback we need.

What the Future Holds

Three weeks ago, prior to LSU’s second scrimmage, Billy text me that Brennan had come in and had a “huge first week.” Any intentions of red shirting the young QB to learn and mature physically went out the window in his first seven days on campus. Since then, it’s been a slow build to what feels like his coronation. I wrote last week that O doesn’t need to hesitate on this decision, and he’s been a bit skittish in his willingness to commit to Danny Etling as the starter, always qualifying it with phrases like “right now.” We don’t yet know O’s motivation in the clearly intentional comments, and if I had to guess, Etling will be named the starter ahead of BYU. But I also get the sense that Myles Brennan might just be too damn good to keep off the field. Etling’s spotty health track record leaves a lot of questions, as well.

Yesterday, reporters directly questioned Matt Canada about both Narcisse and Brennan, but not Etling. This particular quote, on Brennan, caught my attention:

I thought he made a tremendous jump Saturday with his play, looks calmer and more in charge of the offense. His curve is going faster because he’s just getting started. I think he’ll keep working at it. Really, really pleased with what he’s done. He’s an awesome, awesome guy.

Brennan’s rapid improvement only puts more pressure on the staff to play him. It seems things are starting to click for the freshman behind center, and not just in a “making the throws” sense, but in actually captaining the offense.

Playing QB presents a multitude of challenges. The physical tolls are obvious, but sound decision making, short-term memory and holding command of the huddle are essential. The players can sense if a QB lacks confidence. For all these reasons, it’s obvious why anyone would question the merits of starting a true freshman in the dregs of the SEC.

I think Myles Brennan defies those doubts. If people are looking for a player with upper level preparedness and poise, Brennan is your guy. He knows the offense... he’s “more in charge” by the week. In three weeks of Fall Camp, he’s making that leap from newcomer freshman to potential starting QB. That’s a rocket-like ride to the top that he’s earning all the way. Brennan came to LSU ready to be the starting QB. It may not happen in Week 1, but as I’ve tweeted, I think Brennan will be LSU’s starting QB at some point in 2017.

I’ve seen people question his arm strength, and I don’t care. They are wrong. He’s got natural zip and whatever he lacks will quickly be eliminated once he adds the necessary muscle mass. He’s a student of the game. He’s a leader. He’s not just physical tools and throwing balls into buckets and first guy off the bus. No, he’s got the soft skills people crave. He’s not easily rattled. He’s an example setter. He’s the type of kid that will make everyone around him better because he’s constantly working to improve himself.

When Orgeron began his OC search, he aligned his sights on Lane Kiffin, who we learned wasn’t far off from taking the job. In that pursuit, LSU offered Alabama QB commit Tua Tagovailoa, a head-scratching decision. Tagovailoa quickly re-affirmed his commitment to the Tide, Kiffin took the FAU job and Myles Brennan decided to re-open things after seven months of enduring commitment, including through a coaching change. O quickly acted and assuaged any doubts, bringing Brennan back into the fold.

What struck me about the situation was how thoughtfully Brennan handed the ordeal. From his perspective he was endlessly loyal to LSU and all of the sudden they were going to go after another hot QB target for... what reason exactly? “Don’t you already have your QB?” I wouldn’t stop my son from questioning his decision in that situation and you wouldn’t either. He didn’t lash out or act impetuously. He was hurt, but he gave O and Canada a chance to pitch him and they won him back over. In a lot of ways, I think Brennan took this as a challenge. I’m not sure he would have prepared as hard without this event. Brennan was probably always on a path to be a very good QB, but this type of external motivator might be what drives him to be amongst the best. He’s now out to prove, even to his own coaches, that they didn’t make a mistake. He’s the one they need. He’s the one they’ve been looking for.

Myles Brennan checks every box to me. Physical tools are all there, but his mental game will be what distinguishes him. He’s a good decision maker, but he also showed he’s collected in the pocket, despite a pretty constant barrage of pressure in HS. He’s a tireless worker that showed up in Baton Rouge intent on winning the starting QB job. When I look at Myles Brennan, I see Andrew Luck. I see Heisman trophy finalist. I see the most gifted QB to step onto campus in Baton Rouge since Jamarcus Russell. Whatever it is, Brennan has it. I’m confident he will wind up being the best QB in the 2017 signing class. He’s the one for whom we’ve been waiting.

High End: Heisman Finalist, top NFL draft pick, LSU record breaker
Low End: Back-up with limited duty in 2017, loses job to Narcisse and transfers
Realistic: Multi-year starting QB and all-conference player that redefines QB play for the new era at LSU

Additional Reading

How Brett Favre’s Influence Helped Myles Brennan to Elite 11 by Tyler Donohue

Recruiting Breakdown by Tyler Donohue