Friendship bonds receiving tandem for No. 6 LSU
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)
Landry playfully pops a straw through the end of its wrapper and ceremoniously extends it to Beckham. It's the same shtick employed by servers at the famous Camellia Grill, where Landry first ate while visiting with Beckham at his family's uptown New Orleans home. Now it's also an inside joke between arguably the best receiving tandem in college football.
Inseparable off the field, Landry and Beckham are constantly pushing one another to excel on it, all to the enormous benefit of an LSU passing game that is the best it has been in years.
''We're all like brothers, but those two are like twins,'' LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander said of the junior receivers. ''They work with each other. They have confidence in each other. They want each other to succeed. ... It's special to watch - two guys like that being as close as they are.''
Through seven games, Beckham and Landry have combined to make 83 catches for 1,407 yards and 13 touchdowns. Both exhibit an exceptional athleticism and football I.Q. that make them difficult for opposing defense to adequately cover simultaneously. Now they're Mississippi's problem. The Rebels host the No. 6 Tigers on Saturday night.
''They're great receivers. Good hands, great speed,'' said Ole Miss safety Trae Elston. ''We've just got to figure out a way to stop them.''
Landry has made 46 catches for 674 yards and seven TDs. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger often looks for him over the middle, where Landry made one of his most spectacular catches this season at Georgia - a leaping grab in traffic converging with such force that the receiver's helmet was knocked off.
Beckham, who has 37 catches for 733 yards and six TDs, plays with a showmanship that belies the humility with which he handles himself in daily life. He's been known to snag kickoffs with one hand. His vision and speed led coach Les Miles to refer to him as ''a big play waiting to happen'' in both the receiving game and on special teams. Beckham has two receptions this season that went for more than 40 yards. He also returned a missed field goal attempt 100 yards for a score.
''Once you step beyond these white lines, his football personality really comes to life,'' Landry said of Beckham. ''Off the field, the type of person that he is and the family that he was raised in really is kind of that soft, genuine personality. It's one of those things for us, being an LSU Tiger, we have to take the field with that swagger and that confidence.''
Beckham recalled meeting Landry at a 7-on-7 football camp in Alabama, when the two were standout receivers at Louisiana high schools - Beckham at Isidore Newman (where the Manning brothers also played) and Landry at Lutcher.
''I knew that he was a great receiver coming out of high school and he knew that I was going to be something good,'' Beckham said. ''Starting from high school until now it's like a brother I never had.''
Nearly 72 percent of Mettenbeger's completions have been to either Beckham or Landry, who arrived at LSU the same time Mettenberger did three years ago. Mettenberger routinely praises Landry's ability to make ''freak catches.'' And when Mettenberger isn't ribbing Beckham about his brightly colored trousers and shiny belt buckles, he refers to the receiver as a ''natural athlete in everything he does.''
''Me, Odell and Jarvis have been tight since we got here,'' Mettenberger said. ''Those are two of my best friends on the team and really I trust them in any situation throwing the ball.''
Landry and Beckham see their individual success tied together to some extent, particularly in the way they support and push one another, and make almost everything they do together into a friendly competition. They even have running lunch bets decided by whichever receiver puts up better numbers in a given game.
''We complement each other so well that it's hard to kind of control us both when we're on the field at the same time - and stop Jeremy Hill,'' said Landry, referring to LSU's leading running back. ''As a duo, I'll say the success that we have had comes from the play of Jeremy Hill, Zach and also these other skill players and the offensive line.''