A Full Plate for Ware

Spencer Ware is with the baseball team until March, when he will rejoin the football team for Spring practice.

After a career-high 102 yards on 10 carries, freshman running back Spencer Ware earned a nice break following LSU’s 41-24 win in the Cotton Bowl.

He didn’t get it.

The Cincinnati native traded his helmet, shoulder pads and place in the Tiger backfield for a bat, glove and spot in the outfield of Alex Box Stadium.

Ware, a highly touted dual-sport athlete at Princeton High School, expressed an interest in playing baseball in college during his recruitment. Les Miles promised Ware that he could do both in Baton Rouge, which was good enough to get the Ohio standout on board.

After the January 7th Cotton Bowl, Ware immediately turned his attention to the diamond.

“Baseball is in my heart. I love it,” Ware said. “I love to compete every chance that I get. I love it just as much as football, and I can’t put one in front of the other.”

LSU is no stranger to multi-sport athletes. Recent Tigers Chris Jackson, Jared Mitchell and Chad Jones have all contributed to both squads during their time in Baton Rouge.

“I’ve never stopped guys from pursuing a second sport in any way,” said Miles.

Ware will participate in baseball activities up until spring football practice begins on March 11. At that point he will participate fully in football activities, set to attend every practice and meeting with the football team until the spring game on April 9. At the completion of spring football, Ware will rejoin the baseball team.

“What I’m hoping is that (Ware) shows something in the next three weeks that will encourage me to want to play him in the games prior to him leaving for spring practice,” said Paul Mainieri. “When he comes back to us on April 10th, he may be the spark that we’re looking for.”

Ware is competing for a spot in the Tiger outfield that returns starters Trey Watkins and Mikie Mahtook. The right field job appears to be a race between sophomore Mason Katz and junior college transfer Raph Rhymes.

Ware hasn’t swung a bat in a competitive environment since May. Regaining the timing and comfort on the field after seven months is no small task.

“Every day I just try to get more and more reps because that’s the only way you can get better at this game is repetition,” Ware said. “I’m going to try to contribute to the team as much as possible. Everybody plays a role. Whatever role I have, I’m going to take ownership of that and try as hard as I can.”

Mainieri praised Ware last week after just a few individual workouts.

“Spencer has really impressed me,” he said. “Obviously we knew he was a great athlete. I guess I didn’t realize he had as good of skills as he does. He knows how to track a ball and throw. He can run the bases. He’s got very good hitting mechanics.

“The problem is he hasn’t faced live pitching since last May, and he certainly hasn’t faced the caliber of pitching that he does against our guys.”

One tool that Ware won’t have to recover is speed.

With the new limitations of the collegiate bats, runs will be at a premium. Ware’s speed gives him the potential to make a major impact player off of the bench late in ballgames.

He swiped a base with ease in last Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage.

As for running with the football, Miles is expecting big things following the early departure of 1,000 yard rusher Stevan Ridley.

“He’s going to do some things that are really significant,” Miles said. “ I think some of these young guys that we are looking at that are coming into the program will have different skill sets that will step to the front. But I think Spencer Ware is a talented guy.”

For now Ware will enjoy his time away from the grueling toll football season takes on the body.

“I can pump my arms faster out here,” Ware joked. “And I don’t have to worry about people tugging on the ball.”

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