BATON ROUGE – Travin Dural’s entree of choice during his convalescence from hamstring surgery last off-season was, you might say, an off menu item as far as the LSU training table was concerned.
Popeyes fried chicken. He found it side-sticking good.
“Yeah, Popeyes was putting a lot of weight on me,” the fifth-year senior wide receiver from Breaux Bridge said this week, skillfully transferring the blame.
His mother, Tamika Dural, noticed an obvious change.
“I went home one day, and my mom was like, ‘Man, you look stuffed,’” Dural said. “So, that’s when I knew it was time for change. I was almost 230 pounds in the spring and I played at 203 last year.”
Dural had hamstring surgery on the day before Thanksgiving after his hamstring was torn three to four inches off the bone in the Ole Miss game on November 21 when he went high for an overthrow by quarterback Brandon Harris and landed on defensive back Kendarius Webster.
“I kind of got up on the DB’s shoulder,” Dural said. “I really got up there, and he flipped me. When I hit the ground, my leg snapped back. My knee touched my shoulder. It tore my hamstring off at the top, just under my butt. I felt it, and it was just hanging there. But it didn’t hurt that much. I could walk. I just couldn’t long stride. And I couldn’t run. When I tried, my leg would lock up.”
The injury was rare for a football player. As team orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brent Bankston, said, it usually only happens to hurdlers or skiers. Following the surgery, Dural could barely walk and could not run.
“I put on 25 or 30 pounds in the spring since I couldn’t run, and all I could was work out my upper body,” he said. “When I got here I was 178 and had to put on weight. Went from 178, and four years later – 228. That’s big jump.
After mom’s comment, running backs coach Jabbar Juluke chimed in as did offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
“We’re going to have to line you up at fullback,” Juluke said.
“And Coach Cameron made a couple of jokes about it,” Dural said. “I didn’t like the fullback and tight end jokes, so I knew I had to slim down. I had to stay away from Popeyes. Oh man, I tried to do a no-meat diet, but that failed miserably. That failed miserably in like two days.”
He stuck to meat but switched from fried to grilled chicken.
“I stayed away from the Popeyes and the home cooking and started eating salads and started eating a lot less and drinking a lot more water,” he said. “When we started back working out and running after spring practice in April, the weight just disappeared. It was the first time I ever had to worry about nutrition. Before, I was always running and always active, so I just never gained weight.”
Now, he feels like his old self as he is back in the 205 range with hamstring attached and healed after sitting out spring drills and 7-on-7 passing drills over the summer.
“It was mainly letting it heal, letting the stitches dissolve and letting it come back together,” he said. “By April, it was fully healed and could work out and get stronger again. I could’ve gone full speed then.”
But to be safe, Dural did not go full speed and extension until the first day of practice last week.
“I’m 100 percent,” he said afterwards. “I feel great. I feel light. I feel like I was never injured. My hamstring doesn’t bother me at all.”
He can even sneak in a Popeyes run here and there.
LACOUTURE CONFIRMS INJURY: LSU starting senior defensive tackle Christian LaCouture confirmed via Twitter that he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee at practice Sunday and is out for the season.
“I plan to attack this injury head on, and I will help and support this team from the sideline and watch them achieve greatness,” he said. “I would like to thank everyone who has offered their support during this time. I really appreciate it. I tore my ACL during practice.”
NOTES: New roster addition Travonte Valentine, a 6-foot-4, 356-pound sophomore transfer nose guard, was scheduled to practice Wednesday afternoon for the first time after being admitted on Tuesday into LSU for fall classes and cleared to practice, LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette said. Valentine originally signed with LSU in 2014 as the No. 3 defensive tackle in the nation out of the Miami area, but he was not ruled academically eligible and later was kicked off the team the following summer. He transferred to Arizona Western and played in the 2015 season before an arrest got him kicked off that team. He then transferred to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College before switching to LSU.
The Tigers practiced at 8:35 a.m. Wednesday and were scheduled to practice again at 3:45 p.m. in their first day of full squad two-a-days.
LSU will have single practices on Thursday and Friday mornings before its first scrimmage of preseason at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium, which is closed to the public and reporters.
LSU Fan Day will be at 5 p.m. Sunday in the basketball practice facility in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center and at the Carl Maddox Field House.
LSU Media Day will be from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the football practice facility.