When news broke Monday that LSU starting left tackle Dare Rosenthal was entering the NCAA transfer portal after violating team rules, immediate questions arose how an offensive line that was supposed to return each starter from last season would fill in.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron said in a Tuesday morning radio interview that junior lineman Cameron Wire is set to replace Rosenthal as the team's starting left tackle.
Wire, a 6-foot-6, 311-pound East Ascension High graduate, is the most tenured option to replace Rosenthal in 2021. Wire has been a utility lineman for LSU in the past two seasons, and he started in six games last season while playing tackle and guard.
Garrett Dellinger, an early enrollee who was recruited as a tackle, will have to become LSU's sixth-man lineman in place of Wire. Beyond that, Orgeron said, LSU's depth at offensive tackle remains questionable.
"I don't know who's the second left tackle right now, to be honest with you," Orgeron told WNXX-FM's "Off the Bench."
Behind Wire and LSU's returning starters — left guard Ed Ingram, center Liam Shanahan, right guard Chasen Hines and right tackle Austin Deculus — third-year sophomore Charles Turner is the only player of the remaining 10 offensive linemen on the roster to have started in a game.
Turner, who was recruited as a center, has played in 11 total games in the last two seasons and his only start came at left guard against Missouri in 2020.
The other linemen who have seen game action — Anthony Bradford (10 career appearances), Marlon Martinez (nine), Kardell Thomas (one), Marcus Dumervil (one) — have mostly seen time as interior linemen.
The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Dumervil is a former four-star prospect who was ranked the nation's No. 11 offensive tackle in the 2020 recruiting class, according to 247Sports, and could be one of the backup options at left tackle going into the 2021 season.
Orgeron said LSU may also try out Bradford or Hill at tackle. The 6-foot-5, 365-pound Bradford is an athletic lineman and former four-star prospect who was recruited as an offensive guard, and he was expected to push incumbent starter Chasen Hines for the starting right guard position once fall camp began.
Hill is a third-year redshirt freshman, a 6-foot-3, 307-pound former three-star prospect who was recruited as an offensive guard and played in one game last season against South Carolina.
Rosenthal's departure indeed highlights LSU's depth issue on the offensive line, a potential roster management issue that was supposed to be mitigated by the full return of last year's starting unit.
The loss of Rosenthal also presents the first personnel hurdle for new offensive line coach Brad Davis. The former Arkansas assistant joined the coaching staff earlier in June to replace James Cregg, with whom LSU parted ways for reasons sources told The Advocate are related to NCAA recruiting violations.
Now, Davis will have to develop an offensive line that regressed in 2020 — a year after the position group won the Joe Moore Award for nation's top blocking unit — and was already losing all of its returning five starters after the 2021 season either to the NFL or expired eligibility.
The 6-foot-7, 327-pound Rosenthal was expected to be a solid option going into his junior season, although he'd missed several games throughout his career, and Orgeron viewed him as a highly talented tackle with the potential to be a top draft choice next spring. Multiple reports have pegged Baylor as a potential landing spot for Rosenthal this season.
Rosenthal, who has missed 12 games in two seasons, was suspended indefinitely from the team in October and was reinstated against Arkansas after missing two games. Wire started in Rosenthal's place at left tackle. Rosenthal returned to the starting lineup four games later in LSU's home loss to Alabama.
"Listen, LSU loves Dare," Orgeron said. "Dare loves LSU. I recruited him out of Ferriday High School as a defensive lineman. Came here. Is going to be a great offensive tackle. He had some personal situations that he had to take care of. It was a hard decision for him, but we wish him the best. We're going to miss him."