Summer Session: Next O-Line Up

TSD is cranking out 30 stories on the 2014 Tigers in the coming weeks. Today's Summer Session: After four returning starters on the offensive line, who's next up for LSU and position coach Jeff Grimes in 2014?

30 days, 30 topics inside the world of LSU football.

TSD is previewing and analyzing the 2014 edition of the Tigers from every angle, bringing you a daily dose of "Summer Session" each weekday through June 11, three days before the unofficial kickoff to football season at SEC Media Days.

TODAY'S SESSION: NEXT O-LINE UP

Perhaps lost in the shuffle of a very busy weekend in LSU sports and recruiting was an item of news that won't be so insignificant come 2015, if not sooner, on the gridiron.

Jevonte Domond, a JuCo offensive tackle who committed to the Tigers on May 13, officially signed with LSU and will be eligible for the 2014 season after graduating this summer.

Domond's reclassification from a 2015 prospect constitutes big news for new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, aiding the former Auburn and Virginia Tech assistant in his quest to fortify a front five of the future . . . and a reliable second five for this fall.

The starting O-Line for LSU in 2014 is fairly easy to project, save the right guard spot, where Fehoko Fanaika ("Hoko") and Evan Washington will continue their position battle this August. It is, from left:

LT Collins – LG Alexander – C Porter – RG FF/EW – RT Hawkins

Now, let's spin this thing forward and look at the depth behind the starters.

In my projected starting offense piece from last week, I tabbed Fanaika, who's rumored to have shed some pounds, as my pick to start at right guard. But whether Fanaika starts or Washington, the other will be the immediate backup at right guard (and would probably fill in should anything happen to Vadal Alexander at left guard).

Beyond those first six it's difficult to forecast who's next, and I'm even told that Grimes hasn't made up his mind yet, preferring to let Fall Camp sort out players seven through 10.

Adding to the intrigue – and mystery – is the fact that so many of the offensive linemen cross-train at multiple positions. Sophomore Ethan Pocic literally plays all five spots along the line. Redshirt junior Jonah Austin has primarily been a left guard but branched out to tackle in the spring. Redshirt freshmen Josh Boutte, Andy Dodd and K.J. Malone have also moved around to different spots.

Then there's the incoming true freshmen duo of Garrett Brumfield and William Clapp ("Will"), both guards. Brumfield seems more advanced at this stage, but both will get a chance to crack the second line, competing with the likes of Austin and Malone.

All of which brings me back to Domond, who has three years of remaining eligibility. Where there's uncertainty in a lot of areas for the future, Domond projects as a pretty surefire heir apparent to Jerald Hawkins at right tackle.

Boutte, who's up to 333 pounds, and Dodd, 322 pounds, will provide competition, but Domond's pedigree as arguably the top offensive lineman in the junior college ranks suggests he'll be tough to beat. That's a nice cornerstone for Grimes to work with as he develops the rest of the younger linemen.

For what it's worth here's my way-too-early pick for how the second team OL will unfold:

LT Boutte – LG Austin – C Pocic – RG FF/EW – RT Domond

Even as the words go from my keyboard to the screen there, I cringe a little because there's just so much still up in the air. As Frank Wilson likes to say the depth chart is "etched in sand" behind the starters.

The final takeaway: After the first six or seven offensive linemen, very little has been determined pre-Fall Camp, but the arrival of Domond earlier than originally expected will go a long way to solving the depth problem at tackle.



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