Collins is not making an homecoming as he is not from the Dallas area. However, the once-prized LSU recruit is making a return to a more natural, blindside left tackle spot in 2013. The 6-foot-5, 310 pound Collins will be making the transition after last season’s starter Josh Dworaczyk left following his sixth season of eligibility, and with Chris Faulk entering the NFL Draft after the conclusion of his junior year.
Faulk entered last season as the starter at left tackle, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second week of the season. At that point, there was a common assumption that head coach Les Miles and former offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa would shift Collins over to left tackle.
The move never happened as sixth-year senior Dworaczyk took over as Faulk’s replacement, and Collins stayed put at left guard for the rest of 2012.
As the sophomore starter at left guard for all of LSU’s 13 games, Collins made a strong impression on Tigers coaches and fans with his power run-blocking ability, leading the team with 64.5 knockdown blocks, while also being named an honorable mention All-SEC player by the Associated Press last season.
The Tigers’ coaching staff has stated that Collins’ time at left guard was not only to put the best five men in the trenches on the field, but also to tutor Collins to take over this season as the eventual protector of quarterback Zach Mettenberger’s blindside in the pocket.
Collins comes back to a position he excelled at in high school as a Parade All-American and blue-chip recruit at Baton Rouge’s Redemptorist Catholic High School.
He projects very well as a left tackle in the SEC. He has that thick, solid frame at 310 and first-step explosiveness to bury his opponent and get to the second level of the defense. Also, his quickness to pull in the running game or screen game makes him a spectacular offensive tackle/guard prospect this season for pro scouts to watch.
La’el Collins not only has the opportunity to start this season at a familiar left tackle position for his hometown university, but he also has the opportunity to thrill NFL scouts with his nastiness and solid play on the field.