Summer Top 50 - No. 4 Jerald Hawkins

Continuing our top 50 countdown of LSU players for 2015, TSD reaches a veteran offensive lineman swapping sides of the line at No. 4.

Because everyone loves to rank things, and because summer is the best time to argue and debate, TSD is spending the coming days 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 inches closer to the top spot with an athletic offensive lineman at No. 4, new left tackle Jerald Hawkins.

PAST PRODUCTION


"Hawk" arrived to Baton Rouge a three-star prospect from a fairly small school in Baldwin, La. Even at 280 pounds then, he was a remarkable athlete across the board on the prep level - playing football, basketball, baseball (whispers of a 90 mph fastball still follow him) and winning a state title in the shot put during track and field season.


2013: 808 offensive snaps, started in two positions

- After taking a redshirt in 2012, Hawkins stepped in as a day one starter at right tackle in 2013. He started 12 games at that position and filled in for La'el Collins at left tackle versus Furman. Hawkins came alive late in the campaign, playing every snap in seven of LSU's last eight contests and registering nine knockdowns in a home win over Texas A&M late in the fall.

2014: 834 offensive snaps, 43 knockdowns

- The 6-foot-6, 309-pounder took a big step forward in his game last season. He started all 13 ballgames at right tackle, playing the second-most snaps (834) of any LSU offensive lineman. Hawkins excelled in the Tigers' physical 10-7 home win over Ole Miss, racking up an uncanny 12 knockdowns in 71 snaps. His durability was on display, too, as Hawkins played every down against Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Arkansas and Notre Dame.

2015 OUTLOOK


The offensive line has a surprising amount of positional shakeup this fall considering three starters return (Hawkins, Vadal Alexander and Ethan Pocic). Hawkins is involved in the biggest of those dominoes to fall. He's sliding over to left tackle, replacing Collins. That transition began for Hawkins this spring and is expected to resume when Fall Camp kicks off next week.



With Hawkins at left tackle and Alexander, formerly at left guard, penciled in at right tackle, LSU is shoring up its bookends heading into another season with quarterback uncertainty. Hawkins has an incredible wingspan and is an easy selection to take over on the blindside. His pass-blocking abilities are top-notch, but he'll have to continue to develop as a run-blocker to contribute portions of what Collins did a season ago for a team that loved to run left.

TSD'S TAKE


The return of Hawkins for a fourth season is among the biggest recruiting coups LSU had in the offseason, if it wasn't the biggest. Getting Alexander back is huge for the run game, but convincing Hawkins to stick around solidifies one of the most important positions on the field. "Hawk" isn't always the most vocal guy, but he's looked up to by the younger players as well.

Both offensive linemen that decided to return figure to up their draft stocks in 2015. It says here that Hawkins, more of a prototypical tackle and the better athlete, ends up vaulting himself higher. A monster season could be ahead for Jerald Hawkins.





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