Hester growing into all-purpose Tiger

Jacob Hester is really just his secret identity. Don't let the six-foot, 232-pound junior's nice-guy exterior fool you. Underneath it all he's actually the Punisher. In comic book lore the Punisher is the anti-superhero, a former police officer named Frank Castle whose wife and child were murdered, giving him a lifelong mission of vengeance.

He's a sullen vigilante – gritty, tough, rugged – and bears the image of an oversized skull on his chest. That's the exact same symbol Hester has emblazoned on the silver dogtag which hangs around his neck. His jersey number, 18, is imprinted just below the skull.


"In high school I wore a Punisher shirt underneath my shirt. But they only let you wear Nike (on the field at LSU), so this is my Punisher shirt," Hester said about the dog tag. "That's what my brother called me in high school. He bought me the Punisher shirt and he called me the Punisher."


Despite not having the Punisher's somber behavior, Hester's style of play can easily be considered gritty, tough and rugged. And although he's not seeking vengeance, he's definitely looking to avenge the Shreveport football legacy from which he came.


"Some Evangel guys have struggled at LSU, so we're trying to bring it back and help them out a bit," Hester said.


Whether acting as a safety valve for JaMarcus Russell, taking handoffs from him or even pitches, Hester showed last Saturday night he is deserving of touches in LSU's offensive scheme.


By halftime of the Tigers' 45-3 romp over Arizona, Hester had hauled in the fourth receiving touchdown of his career (a five-yard completion from Russell). By the time the final whistle had blown, Hester had amassed 43 yards on the ground on eight carries, including a 28-yard scamper through the heart of the Wildcats' defense with 7:06 left in the third quarter to put LSU ahead, 31-0.


"It was huge, man," Hester said of the running lane. "I saw it, and I froze for a second it was so big. Usually you don't see holes like that against a good team, but they (LSU's offensive line) blocked it perfectly."


Hester also had six receptions for 53 yards to give him nearly 100 all-purpose yards.


 "I said this earlier, he may be the most all-around football player on our team," LSU Coach Les Miles said. "We expect he might get similar touches in other games."


While at Evangel, Hester played numerous positions on both sides of the ball. He admits that remembering what assignments he has now can be difficult at times, but really is necessary for him and his team to be successful.


"There is a lot (to remember)," Hester said. "But if you're fullback, then if you know what the running back is doing it does nothing but help you out. So when I was just playing fullback, I learned running back too. So it wasn't that bad of a transition, because if you know what he's doing than it betters your blocking."


Miles wasn't the only person professing Hester's abilities to cope with all that is being put on his shoulders following the win over Arizona.


"He plays a lot of positions and he does a good job at all of them," Russell said. "It just feels good to the rest of the team knowing that we have a guy who's bound to do anything for his teammates." 


On a night where the Tigers gained 231 yards on the ground collectively, Hester was the second leading rusher. Nine different players contributed to the total. Aside from Hester, the main contributors were Charles Scott, Trindon Holliday, Justin Vincent and Alley Broussard.


"First day of camp he (Miles) told us we have too many good running backs to play one running back," Hester said. "We've got four running backs that can do a lot of different things.


As Hester puts it, LSU has so many guys who are capable, why stick with one back when you can have a fresh guy in there every series with the rotation the Tigers have?


But wait a second, the Punisher's supposed to be a loner, the type of guy who doesn't want any help in getting the job done.


"This team, just like the 2003 team, we don't have stars," Hester said. "We have a bunch of guys who know their roles and they do it 100 percent. We don't try to single one person out and say you're the guy. We have a bunch of leaders. We have the same make-up as them. We just hope we can accomplish half of what they did."


Hester is definitely a Punisher of a different breed than the one in Marvel Comics, but it's a certainty LSU's offense and special teams are in good hands when he's on the gridiron.

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