At the top of Lowell Narcisse’s Twitter account is pinned a message he wrote from March 2016:
“One of the hardest decision(s) you’ll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder.”
Interesting choice of words by the young quarterback, made even more interesting by his decision Tuesday.
On a bombshell day for the LSU football program, Narcisse, the redshirt freshman from St. James, decided to walk away. Apparently not liking the trend the four-man LSU quarterback derby was taking, he is taking his ball and heading elsewhere.
Fourth-year junior Justin McMillan may not be far behind. Like Narcisse, he was absent from LSU’s steamy and shockingly newsworthy practice Tuesday. He, too, is possibly off in a quiet corner somewhere, contemplating his football future.
By this point, you all surely know that LSU coach Ed Orgeron imported Ohio State graduate transfer Joe Burrow after spring practice. One transfer could have been expected after that — and especially after Orgeron and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger immediately praised Burrow for his work ethic and football acumen.
To be sure, Coach O in particular has been careful not to name any quarterback as a starter for the Sept. 2 Miami game.
He has not even named a front-runner, saying the practice repetitions are being kept at an even mix, though arguably the time is now for someone to be No. 1.
Orgeron said he promised Burrow only a chance to compete. LSU’s incumbent quarterbacks — McMillan, Narcisse and Myles Brennan — were offered the same chance after an inconclusive spring practice in which none of them charged to the front of the line.
Apparently, though, something changed after the Tigers’ first preseason scrimmage Saturday. Though the numbers Orgeron provided from the closed session painted a picture of a tight grouping, one has to believe the LSU coaching staff showed the team a depth chart afterward, and that the numbers there did not please at least two pairs of eyes.
Based on what we observed at practice Tuesday, Burrow was first and Brennan was second.
For Narcisse, at least, those numbers did not add up.
One could understand why McMillan would go. He is a fourth-year player having already used up his redshirt season. He wants to play, somewhere. It has to be a bitter pill to come so close to taking the lead for the starting job as McMillan did in the spring, then watch it slowly sail over someone else’s horizon.
Narcisse is another matter. He just redshirted last season, leaving him (potentially) four seasons to play four. By all accounts, Ensminger was ginning up a wildcat package to showcase his dual-threat abilities, abilities Narcisse tweeted Tuesday night he would now “showcase” elsewhere. He would’ve had to show the patience of a Matt Flynn, perhaps, who did not start until his fifth year in 2007, but there is certainly precedent.
To his credit, the announcement by Narcisse was devoid of anger or self-pity. In fact, he thanked Orgeron and Ensminger for the opportunity. He took the high road, and now is taking the road out of Baton Rouge instead of waiting for his turn at LSU.
So now the LSU quarterback situation becomes much more sharply defined. And precarious. Throw a few more “ifs” onto the stack carried by a team already burdened with them.
If Burrow gets injured or struggles, and if Brennan can not take up the reins in a satisfactory fashion, and if McMillan leaves as well, the Tigers would be left with precious few other options.
There is Andrew Sale, a transfer from Tennessee Tech; Jordan Loving, a walk-on from Riverside Academy; and a bevy of other talented athletes dotting LSU’s roster who were quarterbacks in their previous prep lives.
However it turns out, a season on the brink for LSU just got, well, brinkier.
Every athlete must choose his own path, even one as curious as the one Narcisse chose Tuesday.
Another tweet from Narcisse, apparently from late Monday night:
“I don’t live my life for you to understand…”
That is never more true than right now.