What are top 5 questions LSU must answer during spring football practice? _lowres

Advocate staff photo by Travis Spradling -- Ethan Pocic and Maea Teuhema are two of the returning three players on the line.

HOOVER, Alabama — Being a spectator instead of a contributor this spring didn’t sit well with Ethan Pocic, but he might be better for it in the long run.

The senior center was coming off a hip surgery that was conducted shortly after LSU’s bowl win against Texas Tech and was held out of spring drills while he conducted rehab. Sitting out gave him a fresh outlook.

“It was hard to sit out, watch and do my rehab, but it kind of puts things in perspective for you,” Pocic said. “You think you can always just go out there and play.

“It makes you more appreciative of playing football. I can’t wait to put the pads on now that I haven’t played since the bowl game.”

It wasn’t easy for him to see it then, but the benefits of taking a forced step away are clear to Pocic now: he understands now that football will not always be there, he devoted himself to being a smarter player and now maybe he’s even a stronger and faster one too.

When he got the surgery, he wasn’t sure what to expect in the rehab process. It turned out much smoother than he was anticipating.

“It’s pretty similar to a shoulder labrum,” Pocic said. “It’s not like a hip replacement. They go in, scope it, shave the bone down, fix the cartilage. It’s not as bad as you’d think.

“I feel great now, I feel better. I feel faster, I have more range of motion. I’m excited. I feel stronger, too. I can now do all my leg exercises, I can squat. Before this I couldn’t squat that much.”

He was not able to run until after the spring game, so he put his time away from the huddle to good use. He mentored LSU’s younger offensive linemen and studied parts of the game that he’s not usually responsible for as an offensive linemen.

Pocic schooled himself up on defensive coverages. He would watch practice and wait for certain situations to arise, then pick teammates’ brains about how to identify when a player is tipping a blitz.

As a center, Pocic already needed a solid grasp of the game, especially as it related to the offensive line. That knowledge would’ve helped had he made a position switch to tackle, an idea the Tigers were toying with before coach Les Miles squashed it at SEC media days Thursday.

The rest of the knowledge that he picked up while he was out is lagniappe.

“When you start studying the game, you really advance yourself,” said coach Les Miles.

And now he’s been given the green light to put that knowledge to use on the field again.

“This summer, as soon as I got back I went to the doctor and he fully cleared me,” Pocic said. “I’m good to go.

"If we had practice today I’d be back out there. I’ve been getting after it.”

Follow Luke Johnson on Twitter, @ByLukeJohnson.