The wheels may have fallen off the LSU baseball team, but not so of freshman outfielder Spencer Ware.
In fact, it’s Ware’s set of wheels that make him such a valuable commodity – in football, that is.
Ware is so athletic that he can play two sports well at the major college level, even having moved into the starting lineup of a baseball team that can’t seem to right itself after a fast start.
Good as he may be at baseball, where he still must chip off some the rust, Ware is most valuable as a running back in football. He can make more of an impact there, as well.
As the heir apparent to departed Stevan Ridley, the 5-foot-11, 225-pound Ware figures to run the football at least 15 to 20 times a game. It’s unlikely Ware ever would figure into that may plays in a baseball game, and if he did, they wouldn’t be as important to the outcome as the touches he will receive in football.
The spring football game, alone, is testament to how critical Ware will be to the success of the Tigers this fall. Ware accounted for 144 yards in the White’s 22-7 victory over the Purple. He rushed 13 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 50 yards.
After a stupendous Cotton Bowl showing that raised expectations, Ware didn’t disappoint with his spring effort. Two days later, he was back with the baseball team, which is all fine and good, but Ware’s presence won’t make all that much difference this year.
On the other hand, Ware’s absence in football would leave a deep void. LSU is blessed with such abundant talent that nearly anyone can be replaced, but it just makes it that much easier to have Ware in the backfield.
After all, Ware did victimize Texas A&M for 102 yards on 10 carries in the Tigers’ 41-24 Cotton Bowl victory. He sustained that momentum through the spring and capped it with his superlative final-game performance that was televised nationally by ESPN.
The next time most of us will see Ware live on a football field, he’ll be running for the ABC-TV cameras against Oregon in the season opener Sept. 3.
As mighty as the Ducks may be after losing to Auburn in the national-championship game, Ware is apt to exceed his entire freshman regular-season production of 14 carries for 73 yards.
Don’t expect Ware to rest on any kind of laurels, either. He was just as serious in the spring game as he will be when the Tigers face Oregon or begin Southeastern Conference action.
“The spring game is for evaluation,” Ware said, “and I feel like I am going to do whatever I can to set myself above.”
Page 2 of 2 - Ware has done that so far with back-to-back breakout performances that have established him as one of the Tigers’ go-to players for the coming season. As well as Ware played baseball at Cincinnati’s Princeton High School, he never figured to make the same contribution in that sport at LSU.
Whatever production he might provide could be considered lagniappe, although Coach Paul Mainieri is hardly looking at it that way.
“We need somebody to spark our team,” said Mainieri, who doesn’t have as many weapons as does football coach Les Miles. “At this point, Ware is going to get a chance.”
While he’s at it, Mainieri might want to take a look at quarterback Jordan Jefferson, wide receiver Rueben Randle or cornerback Mo Claiborne.
Then, again, being a good athlete in one sport doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in another. Ware is that rare breed whose skills work well in multiple sports. What’s more, he has the work ethic required for such an endeavor and the desire to see it through.
Ware may not be able to salvage the LSU baseball team’s season, but he’s just what the football team needs.