LSU quarterback Myles Brennan is well on his way to becoming a poster boy for upheld commitments and delayed gratification.
All that’s left now is to finally fulfill the promise he showed as a record-setting Mississippi high school passer, who in 2016 became one of the most coveted quarterback recruits to commit to LSU during the tenure of ex-Tigers head coach Les Miles.
“It’s been crazy,” Brennan said on a video conference Wednesday, mentioning head coaching and offensive coordinator changes since his commitment; questions about whether he should leave LSU when Joe Burrow arrived as a graduate transfer; and the onset of a pandemic when he at last became the projected starter.
“All that’s just going to prepare me to be a better person in the end — be stronger,” Brennan said. “Without adversity, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today.”
Brennan’s arm talent has never been in question.
He set Mississippi high school career records for yards passing with 15,138 and touchdowns passing with 166.
As an LSU freshman, he received back-up snaps in six games and looked primed to compete for starter as a sophomore until Burrow arrived from Ohio State.
Brennan was limited to one game in 2018 as part of a plan to ensure him a fifth year of NCAA eligibility through 2021.
Now the coronavirus pandemic has caused the Southeastern Conference to cut schedules to 10 games and push the start of the season back to late September. That is, if the virus is under control enough by then to have a season.
And when Brennan throws his next touchdown pass on a Saturday night in Death Valley, he won’t likely get the spine-tingling sensation of 102,000 fans roaring in approval. It’s not clear how many fans — if any — will be granted admission to Tiger Stadium.
“It’s just another speed bump in the road,” Brennan said. “I’m confident that we can all get through it.”
While Ed Orgeron has been Brennan’s only head coach since he arrived on campus in Baton Rouge, there has been ample turnover on the offensive staff. Matt Canada lasted one season in 2017 and was replaced by Steve Ensminger. In 2019, Joe Brady joined the staff as passing game coordinator to help install a read-option spread attack. Now Brady has left to become an NFL coordinator in Carolina and has been replaced by former NFL head coach and coordinator Scott Linehan.
But he cancellation of spring football because of the pandemic limited Brennan’s ability to work with Linehan on the practice field before August camp began this week.
Orgeron has sought lessen pressure on Brennan as he takes over for a QB in Burrow that broke every significant single-season passing record at LSU, won a national title and was taken first overall in last spring’s NFL draft by Cincinnati.
“I want Myles to be the best Myles, that’s all,” Orgeron said at a recent public appearance. “It would be unfair to compare him to Joe every time he takes a snap.”
LSU safety JaCoby Stevens has witnessed Brennan’s evolution from 175-pound freshman to nearly 220-pound, fourth-year projected starter.
“We always knew that Myles had a strong arm,” Stevens said. “I know as a recruit – we came in together – I was always excited for Myles Brennan because he was breaking a lot of records in Mississippi.”
Stevens said Brennan makes defenses “cover the entire field” because he reads defenses well, is adept at throwing short to running backs and has the arm strength to hit LSU’s deep threats such as receivers Ja’Marr Chase, Terrace Marshall Jr. and Racey McMath.
Meanwhile, Brennan said sitting three seasons hasn’t forced him to re-learn how to be a leader. He said he always sought to exhibit leadership, even if just on the scout team.
And he has credibility with veteran teammates who respect his path and patience.
“He came in and waited his turn and just adjusted to the circumstance,” Stevens said. “He could have been one of those guys who decided to leave in the transfer portal, but he stuck it out and now he’s the guy.”
Brennan has family ties to Louisiana, although not necessarily to LSU. His father, Owen, was a Tulane linebacker and his mother, Megan, played basketball and volleyball for the Green Wave.
The idea of transferring out of LSU was “talked about, probably a good bit, and I’ve thought about it,” Brennan conceded.
“I feel very confident in my decision for staying here,” he added. “I wasn’t going to let adversity or any challenges get in the way and make me crumble. I was going to stay strong and bite the bullet and fight each day until I went out and earned what I deserve.
“Every morning,” Brennan continued, “I wake up and tell myself, just win the day and be the best I can.”
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