Summer Top 50 - No. 9 Vadal Alexander

TSD's summer countdown has finally reached single digits. At No. 9 is Vadal Alexander, a punishing offensive lineman back for his senior season in TigerTown.

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).

Today the countdown picks back up with a senior mauler at No. 9, offensive lineman Vadal Alexander.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM


Perhaps with the move La'el Collins made last season (bizarre pre-Draft occurrences withstanding), there's a new template at LSU to stay for a fourth year and prosper ... at least along the offensive line. That's the hope for Alexander, who spurned being a certain draft pick - possibly even a second- or third-round selection - to return for his senior season in Baton Rouge.

Already in three years the Buford, Ga., native has played in 38 games with 34 starts. Alexander started nine games his true freshman season at right tackle, where he'll return this Fall Camp, and 25 contests the last two campaigns at left guard, where he and Collins formed a dominant run-blocking left side. He is the most experienced offensive player on LSU's team and widely considered the best road-grater on the roster.

And now he's getting into even better shape with his move back out to right tackle. Alexander said at SEC Media Days last Thursday he's down some 15 or 20 pounds to around 315 pounds. At 6-foot-6 he's plenty tall enough and has an adequate frame to play tackle. He'll also be one of the biggest team leaders, evidenced by his selection at Media Days. Alexander is respected inside the locker room and presents good face to the media outside of it.

STILL LEFT TO PROVE


The biggest question mark surrounding Alexander is the position change, namely whether or not it's the best move for LSU. There's no question playing right tackle is the best path to NFL riches for Alexander, but there's a not-so-quietly-kept sentiment from fans and members of the media that goes 'Why move Alexander from left guard when he was blocking so well there?'

Ultimately that will work itself out and position coach Jeff Grimes will make a decision based on factors outside of Alexander, too (like which younger guy takes the mantle as the fifth starter and is that player better suited for guard or tackle). Still, if Alexander is to stay out as a bookend tackle, he'll have to improve his footwork and speed to negate edge rushers. He was solid as a right tackle as a true freshman, until an injury-plagued Alexander got whooped by Clemson in the bowl game.

Because of his injury leading up to that game in Atlanta, it's not completely fair to remember Alexander's time at right tackle that way. But it is still a cautionary tale. And a reminder that he'll have to be on his toes. If Alexander's weight loss this summer is an indicator, he's taking this move seriously and will be in position to succeed at right tackle. Now it's up to him to go out and show it beginning in August.





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