Summer Top 50 - No. 35 Josh Boutte

TSD's countdown of the top 50 LSU players for 2015 reaches a first-time starter from this spring aiming to hold down his spot on the first offensive line.

Because everyone loves to rank things, and because summer is the best time to argue and debate, TSD is spending the coming weeks through the end of July rolling out its top 50 LSU football players for the coming season.

Many are seasoned veterans and a select few are new to the roster, but all 50 Tigers figure to make an impact on the gridiron in 2015.

So we hope you enjoy this list, updated once each weekday and compiled by the TSD staff of Ben Love and Hunter Paniagua (who, naturally, had disagreements of their own along the way).

The countdown begins its fourth week with an offensive lineman fighting to win a starting job at No. 35, junior Josh Boutte.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM


First and foremost Boutte, at 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds, is huge. Traditionally Les Miles has preferred his starting right guard be of the bigger variety, usually less mobile than the left guard and built to run-block (although there have been notable exceptions of late in Trai Turner and Ethan Pocic). Boutte, who has cross-trained at guard and tackle, certainly fits that mold.

He also ended spring practices as the preferred first-team option at right guard for offensive line coach Jeff Grimes. Boutte got the start with the ones in the spring game, with Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander at the tackle spots, William Clapp at center and the versatile Pocic at left guard. Although Alexander, Clapp and Pocic can move to multiple spots, this was the configuration Grimes went with for the final few weeks of spring practice as well as the showcase game in Tiger Stadium.

Boutte does have some playing experience under his belt, too, having played in 21 total games during his two seasons in Baton Rouge. Much of that time was spent on special teams, but, like LSU’s linebackers make that habitually get their starts covering kickoffs, you have to start somewhere when there’s trusted depth ahead of you.

STILL LEFT TO PROVE


There’s still a lot the New Iberia native has to show Grimes and Miles to lock down a starting spot this fall. Even though Boutte ended spring as the starting right guard, there was plenty of rumbling that Grimes may shift Alexander back inside, which would directly affect Boutte. It was also clear from spring that Grimes stays on Boutte, constantly making him run extra and trying to get more from the third-year player.

Ultimately for Grimes there are two new starting spots of the five, and Clapp seems a virtual shoo-in to get one of them. That leaves only one remaining job open, and if another young offensive lineman (like K.J. Malone, for example) shines more than Boutte, he’ll be left standing when the music stops. So competition will continue into Fall Camp, and the versatility of the four presumed starters (especially Alexander, Clapp and Pocic) means Grimes isn’t locked in to having to pick a right guard.

Finally, while it’s true Boutte has stepped in between the lines for 21 regular-season games, his experience playing in ballgames with the offense is limited. As a freshman in 2013, Boutte logged only 15 offensive snaps, none versus SEC competition. A season ago Boutte saw action along the offensive line in four contests with only one coming against an SEC foe, a blowout home win over Kentucky.



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