LSU is losing its man in the middle.
Center Will Clapp declared for the NFL draft on Thursday, making his announcement on social media and handing this program a somewhat unexpected blow.
Clapp, a three-year starter and fourth-year junior, was a mainstay on the Tigers line, anchoring the unit in 2017 at center after a move from guard.
He becomes the sixth underclassman to declare for the draft this year, joining edge rusher Arden Key, running back Derrius Guice, tackle Toby Weathersby and cornerbacks Kevin Toliver and Donte Jackson. Clapp is a mid-round projection.
The six early departures are the most since the Tigers lost seven after the 2013 season. Still, there could be at least one more. Guard Garrett Brumfield requested a grade from the NFL College Advisory Committee. He has not made an announcement.
John Thompson was there for Steve Ensminger’s rise.
Clapp, a New Orleans native out of Brother Martin, started 36 games in a career that spanned three years. A hard-nosed player with a football pedigree, Clapp's father, Tommy, lettered as LSU's nose tackle in the 1980s. Tommy and Will Clapp met with Orgeron on Thursday to deliver the news.
He leaves a void on the line - another one. Left tackle KJ Malone was a senior, and right tackle Toby Weathersby declared for the draft earlier this week. The Tigers were somewhat prepared for the departures, signing four offensive linemen during the early period last month, including two junior college O-line prospects.
Steve Ensminger paused for a moment at the podium. The former LSU quarterback was choked up.
Early departures at LSU since 2005
- 2018: 6**
- 2017: 4
- 2016: 1
- 2015: 3
- 2014: 7*
- 2013: 10
- 2012: 3
- 2011: 2
- 2010: 1
- 2009: 1
- 2008: 0
- 2007: 1
- 2006: 0
- 2005: 0