t’s here.

Or, at least, they are.

LSU’s football players report to campus this morning, the first step on the road to the Tigers’ attempt at the toughest of sports’ double plays: repeating as a champion.

Coming off their second BCS national championship in the last five years, the Tigers renew the work of chasing more glory in 2008.

Practice begins Monday with a pair of workouts, leading toward LSU’s Aug. 30 season opener against Appalachian State. The Tigers enter the season ranked No. 6 in the USA Today coaches’ poll, which was released Friday.

LSU coach Les Miles, who begins his fourth season in Baton Rouge with a record of 34-6 said he’s been pleased with the reports he’s received this summer of his players dedication to workouts and training.

“At this point I would have to say yes,” Miles said. “I think everyone has had a great summer.”

Players will come in and undergo physical testing to see where they stand as compared to where they were at the end of spring practice in April.

“A number of them have to come in and make their marks,” Miles said.

LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette said Miles expects to welcome 105 players today, a number that will eventually swell to 125 when walk-ons are added later this month.

There are a couple of notable absences, however.

Safety Rockey Duplessis of Belle Chasse will not begin his eligibility until January. Duplessis will be classified as a “grayshirt,” meaning he can enroll in school and take up to six hours of classes this fall but can’t accept athletic scholarship aid or begin his five-year playing eligibility clock.

Talented wide receiver DeAngelo Benton of Bastrop will also not be able to enroll at least until the start of LSU’s spring semester in January, having been ruled academically ineligible for the second straight fall. Benton, who originally signed with the Tigers in 2007, remains one-tenth of a point shy of a 2.5 core high school grade point average, one of the components for NCAA eligibility.

The Advocate