BATON ROUGE, La. — After a busy spring full of installation and competition, LSU football coach Ed Orgeron only anointed one player the winner of an individual position battle and he’s sticking to that promise.
At right defensive end, sophomore Rashard Lawrence has won his job. The 6-foot-3, 301-pound Monroe, La. native played some in 2016, recording six tackles and one sack in nine games. But the former No. 1 recruit in Louisiana took a massive step forward this offseason.
And if you ask teammate and fellow starting defensive end Christian LaCouture, it’s all because Lawrence is finally trusting his coaches.
“I think he’s buying in,” LaCouture said. “I think when he came from high school, when things get tough he wanted to go to his techniques. Now, I think when he goes through that process he understands Coach O and Coach Pete’s techniques. In the spring, he (got rave reviews). He did some great things which forced him into the starting lineup.”
It should surprise no one that mentality has driven Lawrence’s growth. As Orgeron said at the SEC Media Days, Lawrence is one of the LSU football team’s few players with a 4.0 GPA.
But more than his natural size and his hard work in the classroom, LaCouture said he’s seen Lawrence develop as a leader on the practice field. No longer is Lawrence a freshman coasting on talent. He expects more from himself and his teammates expect more from him.
“He’s a guy to look up to,” LaCouture said. “He’s a leader now, even though he’s just a sophomore. You don’t have to be a senior to be a leader. You have to be a guy that goes out there day-in, day-out and people look up to like ‘Wow, he’s doing the right thing. I want to be like him.’ That’s what a leader does. So far, what he’s done he’s become that. Coach O and everybody on the defense is expecting him to do something like that.”