LSU will have to replace at least four starters on the offensive line after right guard Chasen Hines declared Thursday for the NFL draft.
Hines, a senior, had one more year of eligibility through an NCAA waiver given to athletes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He took over as the right guard in 2020 and started 16 games over the past two seasons.
"This has been one of the most difficult decisions to make," Hines wrote in a social media post, "but with many prayers and talks with my family, I've decided to forgo my eligibility and declare for the 2022 NFL draft! Thank you and God bless."
Hines was headed toward the NFL after accepting an invitation to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, but he said last week "nothing is official at the moment." He could have withdrawn from the pre-draft event and returned for a fifth season.
Arkansas safety Joe Foucha and UL cornerback Mekhi Garner both announced they were transferring to LSU.
With Hines’ decision, the LSU offensive line will look much different next fall. Fifth-year senior left guard Ed Ingram also declined an extra season to enter the NFL draft, and center Liam Shanahan and right tackle Austin Deculus exhausted their eligibility.
The only starter who could still return is fourth-year junior left tackle Cam Wire, who played in seven games with four starts last year. He dealt with injuries throughout the year, which caused him to miss the last two regular-season games. Wire returned for the Texas Bowl.
As LSU works on replacing its offensive linemen, it signed four incoming freshmen and added transfer Miles Frazier, a freshman All-American from FIU, last month. The coaching staff has also targeted other linemen in the transfer portal to complement the players already on campus, such as freshman Garrett Dellinger and sophomore Marlon Martinez.
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Hines appeared in 18 games over his first two seasons, one of LSU’s top backups as an underclassman. The second-string center in 2019, Hines was considered at the position heading into his junior year, but Shanahan stepped in, allowing Hines to shift to right guard.
Hines mostly handled the position the rest of his career, though injuries limited Hines’ playing time this fall. Now LSU will have to replace him, adding another need to the offensive line.
“Thank you, Tiger nation, for all the love and support through my career here at LSU,” Hines wrote. “To my teammates, I appreciate you guys for all the memories that will last a lifetime. To the training and strength staff, thank you for all the support you’ve given me since Day 1. Thank you (director of player relations Tam Davis) and her staff for all of their hard work. To the best fans in the world, thank you for making Death Valley an unbelievable experience!”