BATON ROUGE, La. — There may not be a better enforcer of the truth on the LSU football team than Will Clapp.
After an All-American redshirt freshman campaign in 2015 paired with a disappointing finish to the season, Clapp understands what’s at stake heading into this fall. He’s never been surrounded by so many returning seniors and a roster littered with experienced talent.
With Clapp holding nothing back after the first fall camp practice on Thursday, the standout offensive guard spoke honestly as to why this August has a different feel.
“This team is taking on the fact that this year we have all the pieces. It’s time,” Clapp said. “We’re a veteran squad and it’s time to execute and be the team we’re supposed to be. It’s having the guys back. We’re used to having a ton of guys leave the program to go pro, so having all these veterans back and another great recruiting class, all of the pieces are there.”
Some of the cogs include the player to Clapp’s right, senior center Ethan Pocic. Also on the offensive side of the ball is wide receiver Travin Dural. The defense is headlined by senior linemen Christian LaCouture and Lewis Neal, linebacker Kendell Beckwith and defensive back Tre’Davious White.
With 16 returning starters, the team has less learning to do and more fine-tuning.
“With the veterans in practice, it’s less teaching and more picking up where we left off,” Clapp said. “We covered a few basics out there, but really we’re right where we left off this spring, running our plays and just executing.”
There are a lot of the familiar faces returning to the 2016 version of the Tigers that are sporting a new outlook this summer. The veterans want the rest of the team to know what it felt like to collapse late last fall.
LSU opened the season 7-0 before dropping three SEC West games in a row at the hands of Alabama, Ole Miss and Arkansas. The Tigers don’t don’t plan on experiencing a repeat this year.
Clapp, who started all 12 games for the Tigers last season, is among the numerous veterans preaching that complacency won’t be tolerated. That’ll the difference between 2015 and this year.
“August feels like three months, but it’s not something you grind through; it’s something you embrace,” the New Orleans native explained. “If you grind through the day, you’re not going to improve. That’s when we’ll be sad in November. If you embrace these types of days when it’s hard and it’s hot out there, it becomes our advantage when opponents come to Death Valley.”
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tiger Stadium.