collinscamp.071119 TS 402.jpg

Former former LSU football players La'el Collins, left, and Jeremy Hill, center, watch as players including Chauvin's Simon Pellegrin II, 14, right, go through an agility drill at Collins' football camp, Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at Dutchtown High School.

La'el Collins sported his new swag, the white cleats with purple and gold trim and the LSU sweatpants that the Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle picked up on a visit to his alma mater.

The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Baton Rouge native once blocked his way onto the All-Southeastern Conference team during his senior year in 2014, becoming one of the most coveted professional lineman prospects in the NFL.

Now, Collins is entering his fifth professional season, and Wednesday morning, he hosted his second annual summer youth football camp at Dutchtown High School.

About 200 children ran around the field, and Collins, a Redemptorist High grad, threw footballs to a small group of kids that formed a one-on-one drill for receivers and defensive backs.

LSU's Ed Orgeron: 'This may be one of the best secondaries I've ever been around'

Dutchtown produced LSU's starting center for the 2019 season, Lloyd Cushenberry, one of four returning starters on an offensive line that's trying to return to the success the position group once had when Collins roamed Tiger Stadium.

In 2018, LSU tied for 106th nationally with 35 total sacks allowed and tied for 110th with 89 total tackles for loss allowed. Both are program lows since at least 2009.

LSU's new up-tempo, run-pass option offense is partly constructed to alleviate some of the pass protection issues. By going to quicker pass routes in five-man protection sets, first-year passing game coordinator Joe Brady said, the offensive line won't have to block as long in the quicker-developing plays.

RPO offenses can also hold blitzing defenders in check, with quarterbacks keying on certain dangerous defenders for the reads that will decide where the ball can safely go.

LSU ranks fourth in CBS Sports 'Best in College Sports' rankings; see full list

It's a stark difference from the ground-and-pound offenses LSU ran when Collins was paving the way for former 1,000-yard rushers like Jeremy Hill and Leonard Fournette.

Asked if the Cowboys use any RPO schemes in their offense, Collins replied with a laugh: "Absolutely. But we don't talk about scheme."

Brady and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger have both said this offseason that running backs will be used often as receivers out of the backfield in the new offense, much like how Alvin Kamara was used by the New Orleans Saints while Brady was an offensive assistant with the franchise from 2017 to 2018.

LSU running backs have been utilized to a certain extent in recent years. Darrel Williams was the second-leading receiver in 2017, when he caught 23 passes for 331 yards.

Hill, who traveled to Dutchtown to help Collins with his camp, was the third-leading receiver in his final season at LSU, when he caught 18 passes for 181 yards in 2014. 

"It'll be good to see them get the running backs involved, especially in this day and age," said Hill, a free agent recovering from a torn ACL he suffered early into his one-year contract with the New England Patriots in 2018. "That's only going to help those guys going to the next level. So, I think the stuff you saw Kamara doing a lot? I think they're going to try and implement some of that stuff with the guys we have. That's going to be great."

LSU sports news in your inbox

If you're a Tiger fan you won't want to miss this newsletter. Sign up today.

SEC Media Days: See where LSU's Ed Orgeron and players are scheduled to speak

Hill is a Baton Rouge native who was teammates with Collins at Redemptorist, and he paid close attention to future hometown running back prospects like University High's Nick Brossette, LSU's leading rusher last season, and Catholic High's Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is paced to be LSU's starter in 2019.

"I think Clyde will step right in and do his thing," Hill said of Edwards-Helaire, who rushed for 677 yards on 146 carries in 2018.

The success of LSU's new offense also hinges on the first word of "run-pass option." Yes, the run game is essential to the RPO, Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead said in the spring, because a successful run game forces the defense to designate extra defenders to sell out for the run.

Those extra defenders are usually the ones that are tagged as the players to read.

LSU's new-look, no-huddle offense, Joe Brady says, will be powered by this position group

But whether it is the pass protection or run blocking, Collins said he's talked with LSU offensive line coach James Cregg, who joined Ed Orgeron's staff in 2018 after a four-year stint as an NFL assistant coach, and they "share some ideas and thoughts about offensive line play."

"I think they can really improve," said Collins, who said he met with true freshmen Kardell Thomas, a guard, and tackles Anthony Bradford and Thomas Perry on his visit to LSU. "But at the end of the day, it's all about the work that you put in. You can't cheat the grind. Those guys got the right mindset. I think they've got the right kind of guys in the building that are setting the tone for them. They've got other guys that's done it the right way. They just follow their lead, and I think they'll be great."

LSU QB Joe Burrow: 'I can throw with anybody in the country' and 'excited to showcase' offense

As for the expectations for an LSU team that will likely begin the season ranked within the top 10, Hill didn't have to look farther than the gargantuan Super Bowl 53 ring he was wearing.

"We haven't gotten the national championship we've been wanting to get," Hill said. "And I know around here, it's national championship or bust. So, we've got to get back to that."

How Dave Aranda uses nose tackles as weapons on LSU's defense: 'The answer for me is shades'

Clean-cut Joe Burrow on why LSU will score 'a lot of points,' he's more comfortable in Year 2

Q&A with the 'Slinger'; LSU's Steve Ensminger gives offensive outlook for 2019 season

Q&A with 'The Professor': Dave Aranda details defensive outlook, how he'll fill Devin White's spot

Email Brooks Kubena at