Publisher's Notes: Every weekday until the LSU football team reports for Fall Camp on Sunday, Aug. 4, TSD will unveil another player in our top 50 Tigers for the 2013 season. We arrived at this list by combining individual rankings from TSD's Austin Cooper, Ben Love and Hunter Paniagua. For example, a player who received a No. 1 vote got 50 points, a No. 2 vote got 49 points, and so on. Every player who received votes had his points totaled across all three individual lists, and the result was our final TSD ranking. All players, including incoming signees, were eligible for selection.
There aren't many players ranked in this range or higher on TSD's top 50 countdown that haven't played a down of college football yet. Such is the case, though, for redshirt freshman Jerald Hawkins, and it speaks to his level of potential. Hawkins, 6-foot-6 and 300 pounds, had an impressive spring building toward the 2013 season, filling in at both offensive tackle spots on the first team at times, mainly on the right side in starter Vadal Alexander's absence.
The Baldwin, La., native is arguably the most athletic offensive lineman on the entire Tiger team, having played in the post for his high school basketball team, pitched for his baseball team (throwing up to 94 miles an hour, according to Hawkins in an interview last spring) and throwing shot put at a state-championship level. Hawkins is currently LSU's sixth offensive lineman but ranks fifth among the big men up front on TSD's rankings. It's almost inevitable that he'll make some kind of impact in 2013.
Hawkins isn't even a starter along the offensive line, serving as the preferred backup at both left and right tackle. Despite all his potential, the West St. Mary product also has zero skins on the wall as far as in-game play and production on the collegiate level. So, as with many of the true freshmen who've come off the board on our list, there is a certain aspect of uncertainty with Hawkins.
Why this ranking is too low
When Hawkins got opportunities to run with the starters this spring, he didn't merely survive but thrive under the tutelage of Greg Studrawa and Les Miles. He moves extremely well for an offensive lineman, giving the LSU staff the type of mobile athlete they crave up front. For Hawkins it's not a matter of if, but when, he'll be a critical player for the Tigers. There's a good chance that time could be this fall. If it is, this ranking is too low.
All summer long TSD will unveil our top 50 LSU players for 2013. TSD's Ben Love, Austin Cooper and Hunter Paniagua compiled the rankings. Today, coming in at number 32, is redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins.
No. 32 - Jerald Hawkins
Up-and-coming offensive tackle makes TSD's list of top 50 Tigers for 2013