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Thursday, December 13, 2012
Tiger Tale: OG La'el Collins

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Leading up to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, we'll take a daily look at a key LSU player. We'll examine how he has done and what his challenges are for the Clemson game.

La'el Collins, Left Guard, Soph.

Accomplishments: You knew Collins was special. You knew it from the fact that he was one of the top high school offensive linemen in the Class of 2011. You knew it because when Josh Dworaczyk, the two-year starter at left guard, returned from injury, it was still Collins that was the unquestioned starter at the position as a true sophomore. But it wasn't until Dworaczyk came back from complications from his injury after the Florida game that Collins blossomed. With the sixth-year senior playing next to him at left tackle, Collins played with confidence and often mauled opponents down the stretch.

Shortcomings: Collins was a work in progress in his second season out of high school. By his own admission, he often played thinking about what he was supposed to do rather than my instinct. It was only when Dworaczyk lined up next to him that Collins started playing with confidence. By season's end, however, Dworaczyk said Collins had "graduated" past needing the on-field tutor.

Against Clemson: It's the last chance for Collins to line up next to his mentor. Collins will have a much-anticipated junior season. It'll be interesting to see, after mastering the position midway through his sophomore year, then going through the mini-camp that is bowl preparation, if Collins is ready to take yet another step in his evolution to a dominant SEC lineman.