Collins preparing for leadership role

La'el Collins is learning to lead on the offensive line in just his sophomore year at LSU. Senior Josh Dworaczyk, once Collins' biggest competition at left guard, is a big reason why.

When LSU offensive lineman La'el Collins reported to campus as a freshman, he knew the learning curve in college would be very difficult. The 6-5 321-pound sophomore gives a lot of credit for his success to fellow offensive lineman and senior Josh Dworaczyk.

Dworaczyk has always been a player that doubles as a coach and mentor to younger players on the team, something Collins says made the two closer and also helped him see the field earlier.

"Our relationship is great because of our time together," said Collins. "The chemistry with Josh has been clicking ever since I first got here. He's just one of those guys that I accepted, and he taught me a whole lot about the game and the experiences."

Collins explained that the relationship he has built with Dworaczyk during his time at LSU has helped his comfort level on the field because he knows someone will have his back if he happens to make a mistake. Collins also believes that having a veteran guy on the line like Dworaczyk gives them an advantage every week because of the experience he brings to the table.

"To have a guy like that on your side is amazing and an advantage," said Collins. "You know if he gets beat then I'm there or if I get beat then he's there. That is just the type of relationship we have and the chemistry where we never hang each other out to dry. We are always there to help each other out."

With the two being so close, Collins said that competing for a starting spot with Dworaczyk leading up to this season was tough. Even with Collins being named the starter at left guard following preseason camp, the former Redemptorist standout said Dworaczyk took everything in stride and never showed any negative emotion, but rather took on a leadership role to help in any way that he could.

"That says a lot about his character," said Collins. "He was never a guy that was down or mad that I ended up winning the starting job. He was never a guy that wanted me to fail so he could get in. He was one of those guys that always had a strong mindset. He always told me to keep getting better and to keep working.

"If I ever had any questions, he was the first guy that I went to and that is what I respect about him so much. He's a hard-working man and everything he has right now, he deserves."

With the career of Dworaczyk as a Tiger coming to a close after this season, the LSU offensive line will be in search of someone to take over the leadership role that will be vacated. Collins feels as though he can be the guy that steps into that role, because he has learned so much from the person that has it now.

"Definitely, I can be that guy," said Collins. "I can see it already happening in practice where I'm telling the young guys where they need to be and what they need to do. It's something that Josh has put in me that I will definitely pass along to the younger guys."

Even though he is only a sophomore, Collins already sounds like a veteran when talking about his younger teammates on the line. He has complete confidence that they will come through big the rest of this year and next year for the Tigers.

"Those guys are going to step up big time next season," said Collins. "Those guys are physically ready right now. It's just the mental part of the game that they really need to understand a little more. They are learning from the mistakes that we're making right now. I know they are going to be ready. It should be an easy transition because everyone works so hard."

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