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Paul Letlow

August 7, 2004

Third-year starting quarterback Steven Jyles said he welcomes competition for his job this fall.

Jyles has thrown for 4,430 yards and 31 touchdowns in two seasons at Louisiana-Monroe, ranking him fourth on the all-time list in both categories. Only Doug Pederson, John Holman and Raymond Philyaw are ahead of him in the record book.

But as ULM began practice on Friday, Jyles took part knowing that the coaching staff signed junior college quarterback Darnell LoVett to give him a run for the position.

"The competition is just to push me and make me work harder," Jyles said. "I enjoy it."

Even after suffering an injury to the ring finger on his throwing hand in the third game last year, Jyles was able to complete 55.8 percent of his 360 passes. He ranked second in the Sun Belt Conference in passing and total offense while throwing 14 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.

"For myself, I set very high expectations," Jyles said. "Last year I suffered an injury that kept me from doing what I wanted to do. I tried to hang in there."

Jyles said this season is about redemption - for himself and the Indians.

"It isn't just me as an individual trying to prove myself," Jyles said. "It's the whole team. We came off a 1-11 season. That hurts a lot, man.

"Not only me, but a lot of other players have a lot to prove for their self and the team."

Shrinking Schule: Junior running back Jason Schule is taking his move from fullback to tailback to heart. Schule is noticeably slimmer as he begins fall workouts.

"I did a lot of running over the summer," Schule said. "I lost about 20 pounds."

Schule, who is listed in the media guide at 241, said his playing weight last season was between 230 and 235. Now he's closer to 220.

"That was my goal over the summer, to get leaner but not lose any strength," Schule said. "I feel a lot quicker and I feel a lot better at this weight."

Schule finished spring practice listed on the depth chart ahead of tailback Kevin Payne, who ran for 976 yards as a redshirt freshman last year. Both backs are expected to play significant roles in the offense.

Staub sighting: New athletics director Bobby Staub took advantage of the nice weather Friday by checking out the first day of football practice. Staub and his wife Laura were interested onlookers for part of the session.

"It's great to be out here," said Staub, who took office at Malone Stadium on Wednesday. "Sometimes you get holed up in that office for long stretches. It's good just to get out here and see the kids and what you're working for. It gives you a fresh outlook."

Weatherbie's words: "It was a beautiful day out here to work. The guys looked quicker and faster than they have. The off-season program has really put them in great shape. They're out here busting their tails and working hard. It will pay off." - ULM coach Charlie Weatherbie after the first practice on Friday.

Arrowheads: After speaking to ULM's newcomers on Friday morning, former LSU running back Billy Cannon visited Bastrop High School before appearing back at ULM's practice that evening. The 1959 Heisman Trophy winner briefly addressed the team after practice, asking them if they were excited to see him or just glad to be done. In unison, the players said, "Both!" ... Slowed by a pulled hamstring, backup quarterback Darnell LoVett showed a slight limp as he ran at the end of practice. ... The Indians are scheduled to practice for the second time this afternoon. The team hits the field to stretch at 3:45 p.m.

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