LSU Football: Meet the Tigers' New Starters in 2013
The LSU Tigers' new starters in 2013 are mostly familiar faces.
In fact, every new starter on opening weekend with the exception of one player has played in at least four games.
Because of starting left guard Josh Williford's preseason injury, Jerald Hawkins will have to start with no experience at the right tackle position, as returning starter Vadal Alexander steps into the left guard slot.
Is Hawkins capable of holding down the right side of the line? Are the rest of the new starters going to be able to match past production? Here are some facts and tidbits about the new starters for LSU's offense.
Jerald Hawkins (Right Tackle)
Jerald Hawkins might have walked into a starting job because of an injury, but by the way things were looking, he might've outright won the position regardless.
Through the spring and at the beginning of fall camp, Hawkins practiced and rotated in with the first-team offensive line. Competition sharpened Hawkins' skills.
He dazzled Les Miles enough to place his name in starting rotation discussions, and as soon as Williford went down, Miles adjusted the offensive line to fit Hawkins into the starting lineup.
As a senior at West St. Mary High School, Hawkins did not allow a sack and recorded 20 pancakes. Going off of those stats and the buildup Hawkins has generated this offseason, he should hold his own at right tackle.
Elliott Porter (Center)
Elliott Porter was all but a lock to get the starting center job before the spring.
In came true freshman Ethan Pocic, and ever since, Porter and Pocic have battled for the starting center position.
Porter's experience (played in 10 games last season) should allow him to keep the young, talented offensive lineman at bay, at least for the first game of the season.
Comfort is everything for a center/quarterback relationship, and having the luxury of snapping for Zach Mettenberger in 2012 puts Porter in the driving seat.
Travis Dickson/Dillon Gordon/DeSean Smith (Tight End)
Right now, Dillon Gordon looks to be the starter.
However, this is the tightest tight end race the Tigers have had in years, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Travis Dickson and DeSean Smith start games this season as well.
Gordon is practicing with the first team right now because he is the best blocking tight end, but when Cam Cameron wants to open up the offense and toss the ball around, Smith and Dickson will be called upon.
At 6'5", 286 pounds, Gordon has the stature to help create running lanes for the Tigers' backs.
Jermauria Rasco (Defensive End)
It's finally Jermauria Rasco's time to shine.
After sitting behind Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, the keys to drive that defensive line at the end position are finally Rasco's.
Rasco came to LSU with a lot of hype, coming to campus as a 5-star recruit from Evangel Christian Academy.
Playing in more of a rotating role last season, Rasco recorded two tackles for loss after securing two sacks in 2011.
Jordan Allen (Defensive End)
Jordan Allen saw his season disappear right before his eyes last year.
After he endured a season-ending knee injury, Allen impressed at camp and put himself in a prime position to start at defensive end.
Allen should rotate with Danielle Hunter and true freshmen defensive ends like Tashawn Bower throughout the season.
Like Rasco, Allen came to LSU as a top-ranked defensive line prospect, but so far, he has only produced one tackle in two seasons. It's time to see what a fully healthy Allen is capable of.
Ego Ferguson (Defensive Tackle)
First thing's first—Ego Ferguson is a big boy.
Ferguson might be a "new starter," but he certainly does not lack experience. The 6'3", 309-pound junior enters the 2013 season having played in 26 games in his career.
Ferguson redshirted his first season on campus back in 2010, and ever since, he's been a regular contributor for the Tigers on the defensive line.
Ferguson has 27 total tackles in his LSU career.
D.J. Welter ("Mike")
Believe it or not, D.J. Welter is still the starter at middle linebacker.
For some reason, many expected Welter to lose the starting job in the spring, but he's only gotten stronger since.
After breaking out in the spring, neglecting the possibility of moving Lamin Barrow to middle and fighting off Lamar Louis, Welter is still the starter, and he continues to demonstrate his strong run defense.
Though the odds were stacked against him with a deep linebacker corps competing for his job, Welter has held onto his spot and should make for a fine replacement for Kevin Minter.
Ronald Martin (Free Safety)
Ronald Martin is a ball-hawking safety.
In only 16 games of action, playing mostly as a reserve, Martin recorded 38 tackles and an interception for the Tigers.
Martin will have some true freshmen pushing for playing time behind him, with Rickey Jefferson and Tre'Davious White being capable of contributing in the secondary right out of high school.
The experience Martin gained by playing in all 13 games last season put him on the fast track to starting, and he will be the only new full-time starter in the secondary this year.