LSU 4-star offensive line signee Will Clapp loves to get "nasty" on the field.
"I love to get down in the trenches and finish blocks. I love to take my guy and plant him to the ground," said Clapp.
Clapp was a dominant left tackle for Brother Martin High School in New Orleans. He takes pride in playing to the whistle, always looking to make the next block.
Clapp's father, Tommy, played with the same tenacity on the LSU defensive line in the mid-'80s and was a team captain in 1987. He says his son lives for the game of football and will do whatever it takes to help the Tigers win.
"Whenever Coach Miles asked my son where he wants to play, William responded 'Wherever I can see the field first' to help the team," said Clapp.
Clapp will be another great LSU offensive lineman, just probably not next season.
LSU returns every starting offensive lineman except at right guard, where Trai Turner decided to leave Baton Rouge early for the NFL draft. Leading candidates to replace Turner will be Jonah Austin, Fehoko Fanaika, Josh Boutte and Ethan Pocic.
But what Clapp has to his advantage is that Austin, Fanaika, Boutte and Brumfield all have the same amount of game experience. Pocic is the only player of the group that has actually played in the purple and gold, but that was at center to relieve Elliott Porter last season.
New offensive line coach Jeff Grimes has a fresh set of eyes and could rearrange the depth chart. The LSU offensive line was good but not great last season. There could, and probably will be, some shuffling.
Clapp said Grimes told him he is coming in with a clean slate and that no starters are set in stone as of yet. Nevertheless, Clapp will likely redshirt. Not many LSU offensive lineman see meaningful snaps as true freshmen. But a year of seasoning and watching from the sidelines will certainly help him.
Clapp, like Brumfield, played left tackle in high school but is projected to play guard at LSU. They could end up playing anywhere. Josh Dworaczyk, Vadal Alexander and La'el Collins all contributed at multiple positions over the past two seasons.
Tommy believes his son could play tackle at the college level.
"When the college game looks at tackles, with the amount of speed coming off the edge, they want them tall with great arm reach," said Clapp. "I think they would consider William having average arm reach. But I believe he can play tackle because of his exceptional footwork."
Clapp, like most offensive line prospects, is a better run-blocker than pass-blocker. He admits it will take some time adjusting to elite athletes he will face on the defensive line.
"There will definitely be a learning period," said Clapp. "But in practice, I will be seeing plenty of talent. That should help."
Part of the adjustment period for Clapp will be getting used to playing with new teammates. The Brother Martin offensive line was a well-oiled machine that complemented each other well. The unit played with tight "splits," meaning the gaps between them pre-snap were small. This shortened the distance for pulling. The splits will widen some when he gets to LSU, but should not be too big of an adjustment.
Clapp is listed as 270 pounds, but he says he currently weighs 295. He stresses that is where the LSU coaching staff wants him for now. The strength and condition program under coach Tommy Moffitt should help him fully fill out his 6'4'' frame.
Clapp is not the most physically imposing lineman, but has great technique and a quick first step. He said Miles and Grimes love his advanced technical skills for a young player.
The biggest misconception of run-blocking is that an offensive lineman only whips his defender when he "pancakes" him to the ground. Clapp, as does every offensive lineman, loves to do that, but in reality that rarely happens at the college level due to the size and speed of defensive lineman.
Even as Clapp's biggest fan, Tommy knows his son will not overpower SEC opposition like he did in high school.
"When he gets to the next level, it is not about physically dominating people. He is not going to do that because of the level of competition," said Clapp. "The true focus is to allow the great running backs to make the plays."
The little things are so important, such as understanding angles, communicating assignments, sealing defenders away from the play-side gap and getting up-field to block linebackers and safeties. Clapp excels in all of those categories.
"His (Clapp's) true talent lies in his ability to get to the second level," said Tommy.
Dad couldn't be more correct. Clapp's tape shows a knack for opening up running lanes five to seven yards past the line of scrimmage.
Brother Martin's offense is lined up in a pistol formation in the opponent's red zone, with Clapp in his usual left tackle position. Brother Martin loves to use him in a variety of ways. For this play, he plays the role of lead blocker. His job is to to block the middle linebacker man-to-man, rarely a task left for a offensive tackle. The backside guard and tackle is supposed to block the playside defensive end and outside linebacker.
As the ball is handed off, Clapp is already two yards downfield ready to block the second level. Despite being 6'4'', he does a phenomenal job playing the game with a low center of gravity.
The play is immaculately blocked across the line. The pulling right guard and tackle kicks out the defensive end and outside linebacker. The right side does a great job of keeping backside pursuit stalemated. But notice Clapp's textbook form. His body is low as he begins to drive through a flailing defender.
The linebacker decides to give ground to the right in hopes of redirecting the running back inside. But that is a mistake, as it gives Clapp a chance of opening up a massive cutback lane with no safety help for the runner by sealing the linebacker to the outside. LSU linebacker D.J. Welter made the same mistake against Ole Miss earlier this season.
Because Clapp cleared out so much space, the runner makes an easy adjustment inside for a untouched strut into the end zone.
This play showed the impressive execution and technique of Clapp and the Brother Martin offensive line. Executing in the red zone is never easy, as the field shrinks.
Clapp's game is reminiscent of Alabama's Barrett Jones, who was recruited at a near identical height and weight as Clapp. Both have a natural feel for blocking to go along with lighting-quick hands. Jones' high football IQ showed when he would consistently use a defender's aggressiveness against them to open up massive lanes in the running game.
Clapp, like Jones, does a great job of turning a defender away from the ball carrier as opposed to just driving them backward. This widens the gap for a ball carrier and opens up massive cutback lanes. LSU did that spectacularly against Auburn, which helped Jeremy Hill have a massive outing for that game.
What will be Will Clapp's best fit on the LSU offensive line?
Clapp was recruited and offered from Alabama, where he would have fit in nicely. But in the end, playing close to home and his dad's alma mater was too good to pass up.
Clapp will finish as one of the most important pieces in the 2014 recruiting class. He does not get the headlines other recruits receive because of his position. But he will eventually join Ciron Black, Will Blackwell and other offensive lineman that were stars under Miles.
Tommy says his son's humility and work ethic will help the Tigers win games. But when asked if he could block his father, Will confidently said "Yes" and that he would tell that to his face.
This proves Clapp will attempt to get "nasty" with whomever lines up in front him. That mindset will fit in perfectly with Miles' mentality of ground-and-pound tackle football.