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Insider

Tigers secure backfield punisher

6/5/2012

At the rate LSU is going, its 2013 recruiting class could be filled by July 4.

The Tigers grabbed commitment No. 16 from Lakeland, Fla., athlete Kennard Swason on Tuesday afternoon -- the second commitment of the week. Swanson pledged his services just one week after he received his scholarship offer. He gives the Tigers their third athlete commitment of the this class, but it doesn't seem like there will be much doubt about the two-way player's future in Baton Rouge.

Although he also lines up as a defensive end for Lake Gibson High School, Swason's future with the Tigers is at fullback -- a crucial position during the Les Miles era of powerful running offenses.

Fullback doesn't usually get people's adrenaline flowing, as it's not exactly an eye-catching position. But LSU fans should know better than most what it can mean for an offense to have a big, mean upback throwing haymakers for the tailback. James Stampley filled that role beautifully for LSU, as he pancaked and bulldozed his way through gaps to help the Tigers rack up an absurd total of 2,836 rushing yards in 2012.

Before Stampley, there was Quinn Johnson, the 6-foot-1, 263-pound behemoth who is entering the fifth year of his NFL career as a blocker. With Johnson plugging holes in 2007 and 2008, the Tigers rushed for a whopping total of 2,998 and 2,1168 yards, respectively. In 2009, the year after Johnson's departure, that total dropped to 1,596 -- the worst team rushing performance of Miles' tenure at LSU.

Obviously there are other factors at stake, but the importance of a good blocking fullback can't be understated for a team that likes to run the ball down opponents' throats as much as LSU.

The Tigers still have the services of 6-foot-1, 280-pound heavy-hitterJ.C. Copeland for two more years in the fullback spot. But the addition of Swanson seems to suggest LSU doesn't want to suffer another letdown in the blocking spot. Ideally, Copeland's presence gives Swanson a year to get to campus and bulk up -- although at 6-foot, 250 pounds, it's not like he needs to do much -- before he needs to worry too much about contributing.

Good blocking is key for a team that hands the ball off nearly 600 times, as LSU did last fall. With the addition of Swanson, it looks like they'll have a reliable fullback for the foreseeable future.