BATON ROUGE, La. -- A little experience as a starter seems to have gone a long way for LSU offensive lineman Toby Weathersby.
The sophomore is the only Tiger who has started a game at tackle, and he believes that lone November start against Ole Miss put him in much better position to claim the right tackle job in 2016.
“That actually made my confidence level go from low to high because I know, ‘OK, I played against another SEC team and I know now I can just go out and play and be myself and have fun,’” Weathersby said earlier this spring.
Not that his starting debut was entirely smooth sailing. Filling in for senior Vadal Alexander at right tackle, Weathersby experienced his share of butterflies before taking on the Rebels.
“It was crazy -- emotions flying everywhere, and they could tell,” Weathersby said. “[Center Ethan] Pocic and Vadal were just like, ‘Hey, just settle in and play and be yourself and you’re going to be all right.’ And everything worked out well for me that game.”
That it did. Weathersby played a season-high 93 snaps against Ole Miss and recorded nine knockdown blocks. That represented by far the biggest workload of the season for the then-freshman, who emerged as the sixth man along coach Jeff Grimes’ offensive line around midseason. Weathersby’s 167 snaps last fall are more than twice as many as the next-closest non-starter on LSU’s roster (Josh Boutte with 75) from last season, and he did not surrender a single sack.
Now Weathersby is in position to be one of Grimes’ top five, with LSU coach Les Miles saying after last Saturday’s scrimmage that he is among the “guys that are really impacting their spot.”
Grimes seems to agree with that statement, based upon comments he made to the Baton Rouge Advocate last week.
“He played a lot the latter half of the season,” Grimes told the newspaper. “He’s much better than he was last year, and I think is showing he’s going to be a really good player for us this year.”
Weathersby and fellow sophomore Maea Teuhema -- with whom he shared snaps at guard last year -- seem to be Grimes’ top two candidates for playing time at tackle now that the Tigers are two-thirds of the way through spring practice. Junior K.J. Malone and redshirt freshmen George Brown Jr. and Chidi Okeke are among Grimes’ other tackle options, but no matter who he chooses, it will be players with little or no starting experience at tackle.
Although he realizes his experience as a starter -- and his positive performance against the Rebels -- gives him a leg up in this competition, Weathersby said spring is the wrong time to dwell on starting status. He wants to use these 15 practices as an opportunity to better learn his position so that he can lock down the right tackle job for good in August.
“Right now this spring is just taking in all the information I can,” Weathersby said. “Take in all the technique and just be able to put myself in a better situation come to the end of the spring and going into fall and into the season.”