Josh Boutte tapping into potential at guard

BATON ROUGE, La. -- At 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds, Josh Boutte is hard to miss. But it seems as though the junior guard gets overlooked as a potential starter on LSU’s offensive line.

Maybe that’s about to change.

“He’s one of the most talented guys I’ve seen on the offensive line,” senior right tackle Vadal Alexander said. “He has all the potential in the world. It’s just getting down the playbook, learning how to control his body and learning how to play with his strength and speed and athleticism. He’s beginning to do that.

“Toward the end of the spring, he’s taken big steps in his skill and all of his game. Each scrimmage, he’s gotten better, so don’t be surprised by what you see from him this year.”

Boutte played as a reserve in all 13 games last season, but he’s in the thick of the competition to become a starting guard alongside Garrett Brumfield, Will Clapp and K.J. Malone.

Not that Boutte necessarily views them as his competition.

“Every day, how I approach things, I am competing with myself, not against other people,” Boutte said after Thursday’s practice, the Tigers’ last team workout prior to Saturday’s spring game. “That’s how you get yourself better. It’s not, ‘I’ve got to get better than this guy,’ because you’re going to set a limit. There’s no limits to how good you can be, so you go ahead and every day you work on something. You work on something new and just get better and eventually you become great.”

Boutte said his goal is to become an All-American, but first he has to win a starting job. The other contenders will be difficult to beat, but teammates say Boutte has a legitimate chance.

“I think Josh Boutte is going to definitely make a mark,” receiver John Diarse said. “We need his physical abilities. He’s a big guy, strong guy. And the crazy thing about Josh is he really doesn’t know how strong he is. We try to tell him all the time, like, ‘Josh, you can probably pick up three people if you want to.’ ”

Diarse was exaggerating in order to make a joke, but he was probably unaware that part of what he said was correct. Boutte really doesn’t know how strong he is.

Asked about his bench press max, Boutte had no clue, but admitted that whatever it is, it would rank among the best on the team.

“Honestly I don’t even pay attention. They just put [the weight] on and I just knock it out,” Boutte said. “But I’m among the strongest guys on the team. I wouldn’t say I’m the strongest. But I feel I’m strong in the weight room. That’s like my heart right there.”

Boutte said he’s starting to feel comfortable at guard after starting his career at tackle. He can play on either side, but has worked mostly at right guard this spring.

And with additional practice at the position, his confidence continues to grow.

“I didn’t [feel confident] at first, but throughout practicing and throughout watching film and seeing how much I can do – when I first got here, in high school being a big guy, it’s easy to be dominant. Coming here, you have to work for it,” Boutte said.

“So I started at the bottom and through working techniques with Coach [Jeff] Grimes and watching film, I got a feel for things and then I started noticing on film myself improving and doing things that I’ve seen guys before me do. So I kind of see my potential coming.”

Maybe even enough to secure a spot in Grimes’ offensive line rotation or possibly a starting job.

It’s certainly possible.

“I feel like he has some of the most potential of any of the guys,” Alexander said. “But they’re all talented. He’s going to have to fight for his job.”