Lloyd Cushenberry, LSU’s 315-pound, redshirt freshman offensive lineman, is eager to play any position.
He’s a good follower of instruction, and he’ll do anything you ask, fellow lineman Garrett Brumfield said.
“Right now,” Brumfield said, “if you told Lloyd he needed to be a place-kicker, he’d do it.”
The Tigers are OK at place-kicker.
They’re not OK on the offensive line.
Maea Teuhema, a junior projected to start at right guard, has left the program, the school announced Wednesday night. LSU had announced Wednesday morning that Teuhema had been suspended indefinitely.
The suspension likely involved academics; coach Ed Orgeron said Monday that Teuhema did not participate in the opening day of preseason camp because of "academic stuff."
Teuhema’s departure means the Tigers are down to 11 scholarship offensive linemen. It also means Cushenberry, formerly the backup to Will Clapp at center, is moving to right guard.
All of a sudden, the former Dutchtown High star is locked in a starting competition at a new position just three days into preseason camp.
“I know I have to step up. It's a great opportunity for me right now,” Cushenberry said Wednesday. “Even last year when I redshirted, I always came with the same mindset: I prepared like I was a starter. Even though I knew I wasn't going to play last year, I knew one day my time would come. Now, here it is.”
Andre Anthony was alone.
Cushenberry and sophomore Donavaughn Campbell are expected to contend for the starting spot at right guard in Tehuema’s absence. Third-year sophomore Adrian Magee and freshman Austin Deculus are also working some at right guard, center Will Clapp said Tuesday.
Teuhema’s exit is a blow for an offensive line that has lost four players during the offseason. He started 21 games in his first two seasons in Baton Rouge, and he was expected to anchor an offensive line that returned four starters from a unit that Pro Football Focus ranked No. 1 nationally in 2016.
Teuhema’s teammates aren’t sulking because of the news.
“We’re more than happy to have Maea with us. He’s a great part of our group, but just from a day-to-day standpoint, I couldn’t expect myself to hinder the group,” said Brumfield, the projected starter at left guard. “It’s not that we don’t love Maea. We would love to have Maea, but just on a day-to-day basis, we still have practice today, practice the next day. The season’s still going to come.”
Can't see video below? Click here.
Teuhema's backups don't have much experience. Cushenberry sat out last season as a redshirt, and Campbell played in just four games in 2016. Teuhema was versatile, too: He played both guard spots and tackle. He entered preseason camp last year as LSU’s projected starting left tackle before a summer ankle sprain knocked him off course.
Teuhema, a Texas native ranked as high as the No. 1 guard in his recruiting class, signed with LSU in 2015. He came aboard a year after his brother, Sione, signed with LSU. Sione Teuhema also didn't complete his career with the Tigers. He was suspended in the spring of 2016 and left the program that summer; he's now about to begin his second season at Southeastern Louisiana.
Even before news of Maea Teuhema, Orgeron expressed "concern" with his depth on the offensive line, specifically at tackle. Earlier this summer, after tackle Willie Allen left the program, the coach said he planned on recruiting a junior-college tackle for immediate help next year on a line that'll lose senior left tackle K.J. Malone.
Allen was one of four offensive linemen to leave the program this offseason, joining tackle Chidi Okeke (Eastern Kentucky), center Andy Dodd (McNeese State) and 2017 signee Seth Stewart, a tackle who left the team in June after just a couple of days in Baton Rouge.
Teuhema makes five. He also becomes the 10th player to leave this offseason.
A third Jefferson brother will be an LSU Tiger.
The top candidates battling for Teuhema’s spot are Louisiana natives. Campbell, a Ponchatoula product, signed as a top-10 guard in the 2016 recruiting class. He played in four games as a reserve last year. Cushenberry, who redshirted last season, was a more lightly recruited player out of Dutchtown.
Cushenberry was one of the more talked-about players of the spring. He filled in for Clapp at center while Clapp recovered from shoulder surgery. He impressed coaches so much that they toyed with the idea of moving Clapp back to guard and having Cushenberry play center.
Now, he’s heading to guard.
“I feel like, me being at center, I already know what everybody else has to do,” Cushenberry said. “So I just need to sharpen up little techniques at guard. As long as I know what to do, I feel like I can go out and do it.”
Mike Gegenheimer and Sheldon Mickles contributed to this report.
LSU is down to 11 scholarship offensive linemen after Maea Teuhema’s exit Wednesday. Here’s the current depth chart, as outlined by coach Ed Orgeron:
Lloyd Cushenberry -OR-