BATON ROUGE, La. — With all the injuries on the LSU football team’s offensive line this fall, linemen are being asked to do more in terms of versatility and learning multiple positions.
And then there’s Lloyd Cushenberry, who has played two positions.
A redshirt freshman from Dutchtown High School in Geismar, La., Cushenberry is the presumptive leader in the competition to start at right guard for LSU this season. But with regular center Will Clapp still recovering from shoulder surgery he had in January, Cushenberry is being asked to bump inside to center until Clapp is 100 percent healthy.
This isn’t too much of a stretch for Cushenberry. After all, he spent the entire spring working at center on days Clapp couldn’t go. But in the spring, Cushenberry was a no-name looking to earn his standing on the team. He’s now established, and is fighting between doing what’s best for his team and doing what’s best for himself.
Spoiler alert: He chose the team.
“It’s not bad,” Cushenberry said about his balancing act. “Starting off at center, I already know what everybody else has to do. So as far as plays, there’s really not much adjustments. Just a few little technique things that I have to clean up at guard. Whatever they need me to play, I’m prepared for anything. Guard, center, wherever my team needs me.”
That’s a perk of playing center. As the man in the middle, you’re already expected to know what your teammates are supposed to do. In a way, moving from center to guard is like having the training wheels put back on your bike. When Clapp gets back, he’ll take over the pre-snap calls and Cushenberry will only have to focus on himself.
In the meantime, while Clapp is out, the calls are falling on Cushenberry. While he was taking his redshirt last season, Cushenberry said he watched former LSU center and Seattle Seahawks second-round draft pick Ethan Pocic command the line. He learned from Pocic, and now all of that is secondhand to him.
Which is why when Clapp gets back, LSU will feel the benefit of having two centers on the field.
“If I’m at guard having Clapp at center, he knows it just as well as anyone,” Cushenberry said. “So I don’t really have to remember everything or make every single call like I’m at center. It helps.”