Countdown to camp: Dworaczyk ready


GeauxTigerNation writers David Helman and Gary Laney break down the competitions, issues and talking points of LSU's August camp. Players report to campus Aug. 1 and we'll have a preview segment every weekday in July leading up to the day the players report:

LSU already felt good about its returning offensive line for 2012 when the NCAA gave the Tigers even more reason for optimism in February.

Josh Dworaczyk, a starter of 26 games at left guard in his Tigers career, was granted a sixth season of eligibility after missing the entire 2011 season because of a knee injury he suffered in August camp.

It just so happens that left guard was the only offensive line spot where LSU lost a starter. Will Blackwell, who moved into Dworaczyk's spot early in the season, was the line's only starting senior. Plug in the savvy Dworaczyk, who's tied with center P.J. Lonergan for the most career starts among current Tiger offensive linemen, and one can look at the LSU line as having starters back at all five positions.

But not so fast.

Just because he's back doesn't necessarily mean the 6-foot-6, 301 pounder is going to be the same player.

He's not exactly coming off a sprained ankle. It was a serious injury that makes one wonder if he's going to be as effective as before the injury upon his return.

Dworaczyk was back for spring practice, but he was brought back slowly by design and he ran with the second team behind sophomore La'el Collins, one of the nation's prized offensive line recruits in the Class of 2011.

With the rise of Collins at left guard, LSU can feel at ease about Dworaczyk.

If the sixth-year senior finds himself physically limited coming off the knee injury, he can pass the baton to Collins and become a veteran leader and valuable reserve.

If he does come back to his old form, what's the harm in a left guard competition between a veteran with 26 starts for an SEC power and an upstart who was considered one of the elite prospects in the country coming out high school?

Either way, LSU's line seems to be better for having the New Iberia native back for one more season. And Dworaczyk is glad to be able to finish his career not relegated to watching in street clothes.

"I'm excited to get another year so I can finish my career on the field," Dworaczyk said when news of his extra year broke in February. "I felt like I had some unfinished business, so being able to get this additional year is a blessing."