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LSU quarterback Danny Etling (16) is consoled by LSU offensive lineman William Clapp (64) on the bench after the Tigers were defeated by the Fighting Irish, Monday, January 1, 2018, in the Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. Notre Dame won 21-17.

For three years, Will Clapp paved the way for NFL-caliber running backs.

Now, he’s in the NFL — in his hometown. 

Clapp, LSU’s all-conference center from New Orleans, is staying put in New Orleans after the Saints selected him with the 27th pick of the seventh round on Saturday. The 6-foot-5, 314-pound Brother Martin product played guard and center for the Tigers. He projects as a center at the next level.

He becomes the first LSU player picked by the Saints since Al Woods in 2010 and it came with just 12 selections remaining in the draft. Clapp was the 10th center drafted.

Clapp was instrumental in the success of several LSU running backs, including Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice. As a guard in 2015 and 2016, he served as a powerful lead blocker for those tailbacks, specializing as a vicious pulling lineman known for turning around a tackle to take out defenders on the outside.

He moved to center in 2017 to replace good friend Ethan Pocic, now with the Seahawks. He manned the middle of the Tigers’ line, excelling in just one season in that role.

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Clapp prides himself in his toughness, the son of former LSU nose guard Tommy Clapp. He rarely missed snaps despite battling through injuries. The worst was in 2016, when he played for much of the year with his shoulder popping out of place. He underwent surgery last offseason to repair the problem.

Clapp left with one year of eligibility remaining, but he was not a typical underclassman departure. He was a four-year player who redshirted his freshman season. He graduated, too, and scratched off all of his collegiate goals.

2018 LSU NFL Draftpicks

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.