Austin Deculus one of key LSU leaders for 2021
This summer, Austin Deculus could be preparing for his rookie campaign in the NFL.
Instead, the LSU starting right tackle and 2020 graduate chose to return for the 2021 season as the Tigers look to make up for a rough 5-5 campaign last year.
“The camaraderie of this team is second to none,” proclaimed the 6-foot-6, 332pound native of Mamou, La. “We’ve been jelling as a team since day one. You can feel it. We go full speed, bashing heads, even though we’re trying to take each other out, in the locker room everyone will be dancing, everyone’s having a good time. We maintain that family environment. It’s great to have a team, you’re brothers on the field. You’re going to help your teammates improve.”
The starting five in the offensive line appears set. Deculus is expected to be joined by right guard Chasen Hines, center Liam Shanahan and left guard Ed Ingram upfront. However, the departure of Dare Rosenthal leaves a void at left tackle that sophomore Cam Wire looks like the most likely candidate to fill.
New offensive line coach Brad Davis is seeking the best quintet so things could still change in preseason camp. Regardless, building depth is also vitally important with four starters expected to depart following the ’21 season.
“Everyone on the offensive is improved tremendously,” Deculus stated. “Anthony Bradford has really stepped up his game. Being a road grader guy. He can move anyone off the ball.”
Sophomores Charles Turner and Marlon Martinez have both demonstrated skills that could afford them reps.
“Both can play guard. They can also play center. It’s great to have both of those guys playing multiple positions. because it gives us more opportunities and be more versatile. They both took opportunities (last year) and ran with it.”
Xavier Hill is another versatile lineman for the Tigers.
Garrett Dellenger, a 2021 signee, arrived in time for spring practice, which helped him and potentially this year’s Tigers immensely. Redshirt freshman Marcus Dumervil saw limited action in ’20. Both players could see expanded roles this fall.
“Garrett Dellenger came in early. He’s been doing extremely well,” Deculus said. “I enrolled early and I remember how it was. Marcus Dumervil, Cam Wire, all of our tackles have improved tremendously. We are improving as a group. You feed off of the person next to you. If you’re an offensive tackle, you’re only as good as the guard on your side and vice versa.”
Deculus has seen the good and the not so good while at LSU, from the 2019 unbeaten national title run to last year’s disappointing follow-up. He has been a rock-solid mainstay on the offensive line, playing in 51 games with 34 starts. He arrived in 2017 after considering offers from Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Florida, Baylor, Nebraska, Arkansas, Michigan and Miami.
Scouts should like his makeup as a player. Deculus plays with a nasty streak but maintains his balance and moves like a smaller, more nimble lineman. He demonstrates a solid punch to the defender, withstands a power rush and keeps his feet moving. Deculus shows good reactions with a no-nonsense approach.
As you’d expect with such an experienced player, Deculus is an unquestioned voice among his teammates, evidenced by his selection to represent LSU at SEC Media Days this week along with Derek Stingley, Jr.
LSU’s success this year on offense will need the blocking and playmaking to meld into a successful unit. As usual. the Tigers have weapons.
“The offense gives us opportunities to have our playmakers make plays in space. That’s the best thing about this offense. When that happens you’re starting to have fun The offensive line is starting to jell.”
Deculus has recognized a different approach with the offense under new coordinator Jake Peetz. There is a different vibe while adversity and challenges have drawn the squad closer together.
“We went through ‘the fourth quarter’ (LSU’s offseason training) together. We went through spring practice together. Last year, due to COVID, we didn’t have a spring. We only had one padded practice. All of this time together now is a great help for this team. We will continue to focus on the hard work.”
Since Peetz worked under former LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady last season with the Carolina Panthers, similarities to the 2019 structure of the Tigers’ offense should be noticeable in 2021.
“You see the long passes. You see the big runs. You see the energy, the fun offense that everyone grew to know and love from the 2019 season. You see those flashes,” Deculus continued.” We just scratched the surface. We will continue to build on the long passes and back to back long runs that we had in 2019.”
Deculus wants the final chapter of his time at LSU to have a positive note. He recruited many of his draft-eligible teammates to return with him for a strong finish this season.
“You’re on that stage winning National Championships and know the lows when you lose and have a 5-5 season,” he reflected. “At the end of the day, it develops you as a man. Football goes beyond the field. Your overall development to get you ready for the real world, when you hang those cleats up.”
ROSTER NOTE: Both Dandydon.com and 247 Sports reported that 2021 three-star signee Jalen Shead has left the team. The Olive Branch, Miss. product apparently left after a day or so on campus. No reason was offered.
The tight end’s departure will still occupy a spot in the 2021 signing class, one that cannot be replaced since LSU reached its 25 signee limit for the class. It also leaves the tight end spot a bit weaker depth wise. Kole Taylor is the expected starter, but expect true freshman hybrid Jack Bech’s responsibilities to be ratcheted up.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…