After a slow start for the LSU football team last season, quarterback Danny Etling became somewhat of a local hero.
Etling, who was a junior at the time, looked more poised in former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s system, completing 19 passes out of 30 for 215 yards and a touchdown in his first start against Mississippi State.
His counterpart, Brandon Harris, was a much different story. In LSU’s season-opening loss to Wisconsin at Lambeau Field, Harris was constantly flushed out of the pocket by the relentless Badgers defense and struggled to follow through his reads. When the Tigers drove down into Badger territory for a potential game-winning field goal, all of their momentum of winning that game was killed when Harris threw an ill-advised interception under immense pressure.
Harris has since transferred to the University of North Carolina, and Etling is more than ready to take over the reigns as a full-time LSU starting quarterback.
At 6-foot-2, Etling can be a mobile quarterback if necessary. The Terre Haute, Indiana, native has made quite a few plays with his legs in his career, whether if it’s scrambling to a first down marker or creating more space in the pocket to complete a long pass. Etling rushed for a touchdown one week before his first official start as a Tiger.
Etling also has one of the strongest arms in the SEC. While LSU has been known for having a run-heavy offense over the years, Etling threw for over 200 yards in seven of his 10 starts last season. During the Thanksgiving night game against Texas A&M, he completed 20 of his 28 passes and threw for 324 yards, which was the highest total of his career.
Not only does Etling have the mental toughness to be an LSU quarterback, but he also has lots of physical toughness.
New LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada definitely likes what he sees from Etling. During a Tiger Tour event on Tuesday, Canada said that Etling showed toughness by performing with a back injury during spring practices. Canada even thought that Etling’s back injury was so severe that he could have easily taken himself out of action.
“[Etling] certainly showed he’s tough,” Canada said. “He easily could have begged out, easily could have said, ‘I can’t go.’”
Even though Etling will not continue throwing for another few weeks, Canada is optimistic that his quarterback will be at 100 percent by the start of camp.
“A lot of credit to him for his toughness,” Canada added. “He wanted to learn the offense, certainly believed, ‘Hey, if I do this, I’m going to learn the offense fast, better [than] if I sit there and tap out and don’t do it. Really proud of him for that.”
At the end of the day, Etling is a winner. He wins on the football field as the Tigers went 7-3 to finish out the rest of last season. The former Purdue quarterback wins off the field as well as he made the SEC Academic Honor Roll and was elected as the vice-chair of the SEC Football Leadership Council. Etling is expected to graduate later this year with a degree in mass communication.