LSU vs Utah State014.JPG

LSU offensive lineman Austin Deculus (76) and guard Damien Lewis (68) are ready for the Utah State defense on Saturday.

Austin Deculus said he feels like he's living in a movie, but over the course of a conversation, it's hard to pin down exactly what kind.

At first, LSU's starting right tackle made it sound like a mythical adventure.

Here's his offensive line, preparing to defend No. 2 LSU's undefeated season at Tiger Stadium on Saturday from the powerful force that is No. 9 Auburn's defensive line.

Leading that Auburn attack is a defensive tackle who LSU coach Ed Orgeron recruited himself, a potential first-round NFL pick named Derrick Brown.

And Deculus is the embattled prospect, the former top 50 recruit who chose LSU over teams like Alabama and Notre Dame, the player ready for his toughest challenge of the 2019 season.

"Everybody wants to slay the big bad wolf," Deculus said. "Slay the dragons in those tales. In that sense, (Brown's) the big bad wolf. He's the big guy."

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And there's the comeback story. The atonement for poor pass protection in 2018, when LSU ranked 106th nationally with 35 total sacks. The commitment to improving one-on-one blocks. The grit in Saturday's 36-13 win at Mississippi State, when Deculus didn't miss a series after Burrow fell on his right leg during a sack.

"I try and pride myself in being a tough guy because I owe it to my teammates," said Deculus, who re-entered the game with a heavily taped ankle. "If it's not broke, then I don't need to be out for that long."

Then, the movie shifted to a heartfelt Hallmark.

Deculus remembered hearing crying over the phone the morning of last year's Auburn game, just after he told his father he'd be LSU's starting right tackle for the first time.

That was the beginning of what is now 18 straight starts for Deculus, a junior, at right tackle — the foundation to grow into the blocker Orgeron recently said has been playing at his best.

"A bunch of emotions going through," Deculus said. "I was about to tear up."

And that's where it steered to comedy: he acknowledged the support of his family, of former offensive guard Garrett Brumfield — "who sadly has left us ..." — before grinning and correcting that Brumfield had only graduated — "not in that way."

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He even describes his appearance in terms of films.

His scraggly, dirty-blonde hair that drapes to the shoulders of his 6-foot-7, 322-pound frame?

"I'm trying to be like Thor and Aquaman," he said.

Does it all sound a little ridiculous?

Actually, his mother, Cheryl, said, it's really ReDeculus.

That's the nickname that "fits him perfectly," Cheryl said — the moniker that's used in his Twitter username ("I'm ReDeculus"), which might as well be the running title of whatever movie it is he's living.

The nickname was born in 2017 at the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando, Florida.

Deculus was walking with his mother to a post-game TV interview carrying a full gallon of milk in one hand and a cookie in the other (both were apparently post-game snacks). Before they reached the TV crew, Cheryl said he turned to her and asked for a pen. He unpinned his name badge, scribbled "R-E" in front of his last name, then told his mother: Now we can do the interview.

"With Austin, you just never know what's going to come out of his mouth," Cheryl said. "Even when he was little, he would just catch you totally out of the blue. You'd never know."

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Once, Cheryl was baking cookies in the kitchen of their northwest Houston home. Deculus, then a toddler, reached for a cookie and withdrew when she popped his hand with a sharp No!

He reached again. And again. And again...

She looked over to his father, Tony.

"We're going to have problems with this one," she said.

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But as Deculus grew up, Cheryl said, he also inherited his grandfather's goofiness, her socialness and his father's big heart.

Deculus didn't inherit his father's size. No, Tony is 5-foot-6. The height, Deculus said, came from Cheryl (5-foot-11). Deculus was taller than his father by the time he was in sixth grade.

"It was definitely a little bit of a different vibe," Deculus said.

Even with the height, Deculus said he had quite the awkward phase. He compared his younger shape to the self-portraits kids draw in elementary school: "Just a circle, four little sticks. That's kind of how I was built. I was bad. Like I was noodle arms, noodle legs, big 'ole belly."

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Those noodle limbs were always bound to play football — the game Cheryl says really is "a religion" in the Deculus family.

Tony played football for an organized team while serving in the Marine Corps. Deculus' older brother, Ryan, was a linebacker for Division III Howard Payne (Texas) University.

Just two sons? Oh, that was enough, Cheryl said. They ate enough for six. She's pleased that they're a hunting household, a family that brings back hides of buffalo and red stag and hogs from exotic ranches in Texas.

"We always have plenty of meat come winter," she said.

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Deculus shot up near 235 pounds by his sophomore year at Cy-Fair High. Bobcats head coach Ed Pustejovsky said Deculus started at left tackle for three seasons on varsity, attracting scholarship offers and visits from college coaches all over the country.

Alabama's Nick Saban. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops. So many coaches visited their home, Cheryl had to build a spreadsheet to keep track.

The spreadsheet was mostly for her. No, Deculus was a coast-to-coast LSU recruit from the time he committed the summer before his junior year until he showed up as an early enrollee in 2017.

Deculus wasn't born in Louisiana. But his father was raised in Mamou.

Just before the 2019 season began, Deculus told his father: I'm going to put Mamou on the map.

Tony responded, confused: What are you talking about?

The answer didn't come until LSU's roster updated on the school's official website.

Deculus had a new hometown listing: Mamou, Louisiana.

ReDeculous, ain't it?

"I'm not only playing for LSU on my chest," he said. "(I'm) playing for Deculus. Like there's such more deeper meaning to where there's so much more bloodline and history in it."

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