It goes against the grain of what LSU football stands for in recent years under Les Miles, but that's primarily a skill-position thing. When it comes to developing quality trench workers on offense, the ideal set-up is still taking a year aside to grow physically in the weight room and mentally in the playbook.
The latest proof of that concept, or success story, is William Clapp.
A 6-foot-5, 295-pounder from Brother Martin, Clapp did the offensive lineman equivalent of holding a clipboard in 2014. Now, heading into the offseason leading up to 2015, he's the Tigers' starting center, equally adept and capable of sliding out to left guard in a moment's notice.
TSD caught up with Clapp for a one-on-one interview recently. Clapp detailed his improvement, sponging information from older players and a new graduate assistant and shared a quick take on the quarterback battle.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~Ben Love: What's this spring been like for you? Coming off a redshirt year you have a better chance to compete. Do you think you've taken advantage of it?
Will Clapp: It’s been a fun spring. I’ve definitely gotten a lot better, mostly working center. I think I’ve taken advantage of it, especially getting a lot of one [first-team] reps. It’s been fun.
BL: You said mostly center. What's the split been like in practice for you between center and left guard?
WC: I’ve played both. That’s where I spent my whole redshirt year, at center. So playing guard is a little bit different, but for the most part center was the big adjustment (originally). I guess I’ve been playing center the last two-and-a-half weeks. I haven’t even taken any guard reps.
BL: I know the coaches have so long still to make a decision, but does it feel like they prefer Ethan Pocic at a guard spot so being able to play you at center helps?
WC: Everybody is so versatile. We can all play anywhere. So they haven’t really decided yet, but mostly I’ve been at center and Ethan’s been at left guard.
BL: How have the two guys at right guard fared this spring, Garrett Brumfield and Josh Boutte?
WC: Both of them having been doing great. Really everybody on the line has improved greatly this spring. Coach (Jeff) Grimes has been working on the finer points of technique with us.
BL: Remind me, which coach usually works with the inside guys and then who works with the tackles in practice?
WC: Most of the time Coach Grimes works with the tackles and our offensive line GA Ryan Pugh works with the centers and guards.
BL: I know this is Pugh's first spring here with the team. What do you take away from him so far?
WC: Having him on the staff is great. He played for Auburn their national championship year, so he gives me a lot of tips. Having him here has really helped me develop as a center.
(Asked a follow-up question about Pugh, who played for Grimes at Auburn) He’s still young enough to think like us, but also he’s a great coach and he thinks just like Coach Grimes. So if Coach Grimes isn’t there, I can pick his brain about center things and he can give me the right answer on it.
BL: As far as older teammates go, who have you sponged the most from since you got to campus?
WC: Definitely Ethan. I was under his wing last year, learning center and guard from him. So whenever I’ve had a question or struggled some, I just go to him and he normally helps me solve it pretty quick.
BL: What have you seen from both Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings at quarterback?
WC: Both guys are improved. Most of the time I’m really not even looking to see who’s behind me when I’m snapping the ball. Both of them have had great springs and they’ve been leaders.