Will Clapp is used to changing faces.
He has played left guard, right guard and center during his career at LSU. Each move changed the man to his left or his right. And injuries last season caused even more shuffling.
He’s more than accustomed to this stuff. So guard Maea Teuhema’s absence during preseason camp is not ideal, sure, but it’s not all that significant.
“These guys are smart,” said Clapp, LSU’s presumed starting center. “I think they’ll be fine.”
The guys he’s referring to are Teuhema’s temporary — and potentially permanent — replacements: redshirt freshman Lloyd Cushenberry, sophomore Adrian Magee, sophomore Donavaughn Campbell and true freshman Austin Deculus.
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Those four have started zero college games and have played in only seven combined. The foursome is rotating in at right guard, Clapp said, led by Cushenberry and Campbell. Coach Ed Orgeron on Monday said that duo is challenging for the spot vacated by Teuhema, a two-year starter at guard and tackle.
Teuhema is out, at least for now, because of “academic stuff,” Orgeron said. There is no timetable for his return. Orgeron said he’s unsure about Teuhema’s situation and that he’d know more in the “next couple of days.”
Final exams for summer school were Thursday, and summer school grades were due Tuesday, according to the school’s academic calendar. Summer intersession classes begin Monday and last through Aug. 19.
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Meanwhile, the battle for the starting right guard spot rages on — without Teuhema. LSU held its second camp practice Tuesday, shuffling the line in Teuhema’s absence. The change affects everyone, most notably Clapp, the quarterback of the group.
“I need to make sure we’re on the same page,” he said. “Younger guys, sometimes they’re not on the same page, or they’re not used to seeing certain looks. So I’ve got to over-communicate to them, but these guys are catching on quickly. We’ve had walk-throughs run by the players all summer.”
Clapp and Teuhema have held down LSU’s guard spots for the past two seasons, with Teuhema occasionally playing tackle as injuries warranted. Given Teuhema's uncertain future and Clapp’s move to center, the Tigers could operate with a pair of new guards for the first time since 2014: Garrett Brumfield on the left and, on the right, who knows?
“We’re throwing people in there, making sure we have the best options to go forward with,” Clapp said. “We’ve got 28 practices left, and we’ll find that guy by the time it’s over.”
Odds are that Campbell or Cushenberry will land the gig. They’re two inexperienced but talented players from Louisiana. Campbell, a Ponchatoula product, signed as a top-10 guard nationally 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. In fact, he was the last player in the 2016 class to receive a scholarship offer from LSU.
But he quickly became one of the more talked-about players of the spring and summer. Even former coach Les Miles raved about him last season. As another sign of his strength, coaches moved him from behind Clapp to the right guard spot in Teuhema’s absence.
“Lloyd is a good dude,” right tackle Toby Weathersby said. “He’s real quiet and real smart. He played center during spring. He knows this whole offense from front to back. Having him next to me and me rocking and rolling with him makes me feel even better about what’s going on on the right side.”
Cushenberry’s move left a hole behind Clapp. But don’t worry: Those faces are steadily changing, too — just like those beside him.
“We’re in the process of training a bunch of centers,” Clapp said with a smile. “Bunch of people playing center.”
LSU's upcoming camp schedule
- Wednesday (Day 3): 4 p.m. practice
- Thursday: 4 p.m. practice
- Friday: 4 p.m. practice
- Saturday: Scrimmage (time TBD)
- Sunday: No practice
- Monday: 4 p.m. practice