ATLANTA — Brian Kelly understands the building relationships with football players is all about building trust. That is exactly what he has been working at doing since taking over as LSU head coach.
“Well, I think trust is a two-way street,” Kelly said Monday at SEC Media Days inside the College Football Hall of Fame. “They’re earning my trust, too. I think it works both ways.
First of all, trust is about saying something and backing it up, and then continuing that relationship,” Kelly added. “We’re working on that relationship every day through deeds, through things that we put in front of them and say that we’re going to do for them, and backing it up, then asking them to do some things for us, seeing that they back it up.”
Building that trust includes awarding the coveted No. 7 jersey to former Westgate High star and SEC record-breaking wide receiver Kayshon Boutte.
“As you know, Kayshon was just awarded No. 7 which we consider a program number that highlights the very best player, in particular from the state of Louisiana,” Kelly said. “That has to happen when trust has been formed.”
Kelly’s focus may be building trust with the Tigers but it is also evaluating and developing two key position groups — quarterbacks and offensive line.
When he took over Notre Dame in 2010, Kelly had a new quarterback and a new offensive line. A dozen years later, Kelly takes over an LSU program with quarterback and o-line questions.
Even though there may be simialtries, Kelly believes that the quarterback situation is slightly different with the Tigers.
“I think the depth at the quarterback position is much different,” Kelly said Monday during SEC Media Days. “Jayden (Daniels) and certainly Myles (Brennan) bring us obviously starting experience. Garrett (Nussmeier) obviously for me is an exciting quarterback. Walker (Howard) is a true freshman, but there’s great depth there.”
Kelly did admit that a big issue for the program is the big fellas that protect the quarterbacks. LSU returns only one starter across the offensive line in rigth tackle Cameron Wire.
“The offensive line is clearly an area that we need to keep our eye on,” Kelly said. “But I think we’ve added some really good transfers, and we think we’ve got some young men that have developed.”
In addition to have only one returning starter on the offensive line returning, there is just one coach from former coach Ed Orgeron’s staff that Kelly retained — Brad Davis who served as interim coach for the team’s bowl game.
Kelly explained why that was.
“I got a chance to see him in a different capacity, much more of a, I would say, leadership capacity where he got an opportunity to really touch all of the players,” Kelly said. “I really loved his ability to reach players. I felt like if he could reach all of those players, how well would he do with 15 to 18 players.”
Kelly added, “My time with him, his want and desire to be part of LSU made it an easy decision for me.”