On a team returning 18 of 22 starters, serious position battles aren’t easy to come by at this camp.
Except on the offensive line.
The line lost two starters. Coach Les Miles dubbed Toby Weathersby as his starting right tackle in the spring, but that still leaves a guard position up for grabs. Senior Josh Boutte, redshirt sophomore Garrette Brumfield and junior K.J. Malone are competing to start opposite Will Clapp at either right or left guard - a battle that restarted during Thursday's opening day of camp.
The one thing different about Boutte than the other two: this is his last shot.
“My approach is to just be hungry man. For me, it’s my last season. It’s all or nothing right now,” he said.
LSU opened preseason camp on Thursday.
Boutte began last season as LSU’s starting right guard and lost that job midway through the season opener at Mississippi State. A key holding penalty in the first half of that game potentially cost LSU a touchdown. Teuhema replaced him in the second half – and for the rest of the season.
Boutte is back, at least for now, working with the starters at right guard. Brumfield is behind him, and Malone is working at both guard and tackle on the left side. The potential starting line combinations are becoming obvious.
If coaches feel Malone is a better option at guard than Brumfield or Boutte, he’ll start at left guard, and Will Clapp will start at right guard. If Boutte or Brumfield impress enough, Clapp will play left guard and one of them will play right.
Where’s Boutte at in the competition? He’s being kept in the dark.
“I feel pretty good. I’ve talked to (offensive line) Coach (Jeff) Grimes a lot. He tells me good things,” Boutte said. “He’s the type of guy who doesn’t really tell you if you got the job or not, but I’m sure he’s saying the same things to Garrett (Brumfield).”
Brumfield, a University High graduate who’s been beset with injuries during his career, is fully healthy now. Boutte and Brumfield are close, despite the competition.
“Garrett Brumfield, he’s doing really good,” Boutte said. “He’s developed. That’s my little brother. We’re all pushing each other. Make each other better. Coach Grimes always says that he puts his best five on the field. If we have seven of the best five, two are going to get rotated.”