Will Clapp is a quick learner.
In his first season playing center, the LSU redshirt junior landed as a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's best center.
Clapp, a New Orleans native and 45-game starter in Baton Rouge, joins Alabama's Bradley Bozeman and Ohio State's Billy Price. The award is presented to the winner on Jan. 13 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Clapp sat out his rookie season in 2014 before moving into the starting rotation at guard in 2015 and 2016. He took over for Ethan Pocic at the center position this year, a stable force on a battered, young offensive line. The Tigers started two true freshmen for much of the season, and tackles KJ Malone and Toby Weathersby each missed time with health issues.
Unlike 2014, Leonard Fournette won’t take the field when LSU and Notre Dame meet in a bowl game on Jan. 1.
Clapp has fought through pain, missing just one start in his career. Last season, he played through a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder, and he's battled various injuries this season as well.
WalterFootball.com projects Clapp as a third-to-fourth round draft pick. He's eligible for the 2018 draft as a fourth-year junior. He has side stepped questions about his potential return to LSU. The decision is likely to hinge on his evaluation grade from the NFL College Advisory Committee. Most LSU underclassmen submit a request for grades, normally returned to them in late December or early January.
The Tigers have lost 25 underclassmen to the draft over the past four years. The deadline for them to declare this year is Jan. 15.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron expects edge rusher Arden Key to play in the Citrus Bowl against Notre Dame, but he can’t be sure on that.