Pieces of the puzzle: Senior OL T-Bob Hebert

Senior's versatility pumps up his value to the Tigers and his willingness to play three positions on the offensive line always leaves him in the thick of things on offense.

If there's a big play for the LSU offense this season – and there figure to be a few of them – senior T-Bob Hebert will be somewhere in the middle of things on the offensive line.

The percentages certainly favor the affable Georgia native being on the field anyway.

As he enters his fifth and final season with the Tigers, Hebert isn't pegged as a starter, nor does he have a specific position to call home any more.

And that sits fine with him because by being an o-line jack-of-all-trades, the son of former Northwestern State and New Orleans Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert has increased his value to a team that goes into the season with high hopes.

A one-time starting center, the 6-foot-3, 304-pound Hebert has evolved into an offensive line utility man – ready to jump in at either guard spot or at center whenever and wherever he's needed.

"I guess I'm just a guy who will try anything," said Hebert, who started seven games at right guard last season after Will Blackwell suffered a broken ankle on the first snap of the season. So far in pre-season camp, Hebert is logging time at both guard spots, and he'll also be P.J. Lonergan's backup at center.

"I've always approached football with an open attitude. The more you can do, it's only going to help you. The more positions you know and understand, the better you can prepare mentally and that, in turn, makes the game slow down physically.

"The nice thing is, I have experience at all three positions and feel comfortable at all three. I'm thankful that the coaches have given me the opportunity to learn all three. So I'm just trying to prepare to the best of my ability for all these different spots and just trying to fit in wherever I can and help where I can. I just want this team to be the best it can be and achieve the goals that we've set."

Hebert is a key member of an offensive line that will have to play a major role for the Tigers' offense to reach those lofty goals.

Last season he was in on 607 offensive plays and registered a team-best 76 knockdowns. Though not as big and bulky as most of his o-line brethren, Hebert is regarded as one of LSU's best mechanical blocker and his technique is as sound as anybody up front.

After battling injuries his entire career, including a major knee injury and a compound ankle fracture, Hebert also has a clean bill of health entering his final season.

"T-Bob is as healthy and physically strong as he's been," offensive line coach and newly appointed offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa said. "Right now, he's as physically strong, in shape and healthy as he has ever been."

More than that, though, Hebert – along with left guard Josh Dworaczyk – are the clear-cut leaders of a veteran group up front.

Studrawa said any hesitancy he has of moving up to the press box booth to call plays on game days is alleviated by the leadership those two supply.

"Those two guys are so smart," Studrawa said. "They're the reason I can go up in the box and still feel comfortable knowing they're like two more coaches on the field. They've been in this system and know what they're doing. Without these two kids, it would be a lot more difficult than it is because they are such an asset to the team."

Hebert comes by leadership qualities naturally, of course, as the son of a former NFL quarterback.

But it's also woven into his gregarious personality.

"That means the world to me," Hebert said of Studrawa's comments. "That's been my coach for five years and he's almost like a second father figure to me at this point. He's made me into the player I am today – worked with me, taught me schemes and techniques. That kind of praise, it inspires me to fulfill the goals he set for me."

Not that long ago, Hebert's simple goal was simply to get on the field.

While most freshmen arrive on campus with their minds set on starting wherever they might've starred at the prep level, the likelihood is that most players are going to have cross-train early in their careers and be prepared to play a different position.

Hebert had played center almost exclusively from the age of 9 by the time he arrived at LSU in 2007. As a freshman and redshirt freshman, Hebert worked behind veterans Brett Helms and Ryan Miller and saw only spot duty.

He compensated by jumping in with the guards to learn that position and even worked some as a short-yardage fullback and spent times on special teams – returning a kickoff 13 yards.

"You've got to be hungry to get on the field and be ready to do whatever you can to do that," Hebert said. "That's how I was when we had the two older guys in front of me at center. The fullback position really helped me understand the offense as a whole better. It's like the sixth or seventh lineman. It was an irreplaceable time for me to learn and I'm really glad I had a chance to play there."

Hebert's versatility – the willingness to be flexible enough to move from center to guard and from side-to-side – has an added benefit for the Tigers.

As much as Hebert's outgoing personality serves him well as a leader, his example to younger players is just as impactful.

"He's knows what's going on," Tigers' coach Les Miles said of Hebert. "He's in the middle of it. It allows guys that are standing beside him to get the right communication and know what they're supposed to do. He answers some questions in there for us."

Hebert is equipped to offer multiple answers as well as anybody. It's just part of his ever-changing job.

"I'll be ready to go whenever the coaches need and wherever my team needs me," Hebert said.

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