At LSU we like our linemen like we like our drinks, big and strong. You've never heard that one before, right?
No really, though, we're in the habit of taking grizzly bears and throwing pads on them and calling it a day. It's amazing we haven't gotten a recruiting violation for it, yet. Or at the very least, a PETA citation or something. Guess they are too busy complaining about Mike's cage.
Anywho, it seems we're ever in the process of stockpiling these show ponies. "Oh your starting LT blows out his knee just weeks before the season, NBD, throw this guy in there." It's been a hot minute since we really endured a lack of OL depth at LSU. 2009's unit really stunk the joint up. But seasons like that are few and far between.
Josh Boutte looks to continue that tradition in a big way.
It's virtually impossible to be a 5-star offensive guard. Just combing through Rivals rankings, there were zero in 2013, one in 2012, zero in 2011, zero in 2010, zero in 2009, zero in 2008, but amazingly three in 2007. So four guys in seven years. Obviously this isn't a question of talent. There are still plenty of top-level OGs playing in college football and the NFL, and not all of these guys are converted OTs, either.
The best explanation is that offensive guard simply isn't considered an impact position. Hell, the Saints let one of the league's best guards walk because he wanted big-time money that they didn't want to pay. This matriculates into fans too. No one gets excited when their team pounces on an offensive guard in the first round. It's a non-sexy position. We can debate the merits of impact at a later date.
Thus, it's no surprise that Josh Boutte finds himself as a strong 4-star talent, but outside the top 100. Boutte hails from New Iberia, and despite a slight amount of signing-day drama (some rumors he was following to his GF to another LA school) there was very little detouring in his commitment once he committed in February of last year at Junior Day. He became a U.S. Army All-American. At one national event they summarized Boutte's effort as follows, "every single one of his reps ended in violent manner and with someone on the ground." Now THAT's the type of OL you love to recruit.
Much like DeSean Smith, I'm going to use junior film here, because it's much easier to identify Boutte easily.
It doesn't take long to see what anyone would love about Josh Boutte. :03 and domination ensues. I will note, Boutte does look a good 90 pounds heavier than any of his competition, but he does exactly what you hope to see in that situation: murder. It's that type of pulverizing power that perfectly suits Boutte for the inside. He's a true grinder there, capable of winning battles in a short area. Need 6 inches? Run behind Boutte.
But there are plenty of maulers in HS. There are plenty of big, bad dudes that push around little, weak guys. Chip Kelly is fond of saying, "big people beat up little people." Boutte fits that bill, but he bring some athleticism to the table as well. Check the :14 mark. He does a good job getting out of his stance, locating the LB and making contact. Ideally he would have initiated that block much stronger as the backer absorbs the blow well, but he sticks with it and winds up with a nasty pancake. :24 is another strong example of his pulling, except this time his initial blow is less glancing and more dominant. That guy pays for challenging Boutte.
Now jump to 1:44. That poor, poor soul on the other end of the block. And the best part is, Boutte just keeps on barreling down the field, looking for more victims. Notice the safety, who thinks better of challenging him. He's got a real habit of making mince meat of his opponents. I love the power he displays both as a pulling guard and in one-on-one match-ups.
What I Like: His natural power and absolute aggression. He's a mauler. He's out for blood. He's big, mean, and nasty.
What I Dislike: Like most every young OL, his body needs some work. I've seen him listed anywhere from 295 to 330. Based on pictures, I'm guessing he's nearer to 330. He's thick and a bit lumpy. He's got plenty of bulk, but I'd love to see him thin some of that out and add good muscle.
What I Don't Know: There's not a ton of tape of Boutte in pass pro. I will say, I think he has the athletic characteristics and long arms that bode well in that regard.
I'm guessing he'll take 2013 as a RS year, barring some drastic injuries that throw him into the mix for PT. He does have the size and strength to play immediately, and the staff may think it best to get him on the field now. Better to get the value now than lose a year to him RS and him leaving early.
But there are no immediate openings and he could use some body transformation.
Boutte is not the best lineman in this class. That honor belongs to Ethan Pocic. But he's really damn good.
We're looking at a guy that can be a really, really good starter for three years on the inside. He's got natural power crawling out of his ears. He bleeds nasty. Linebackers crumble just staring at him.
While he's not in that La'El Collins elite athlete realm, he's no plodder inside. He shows the ability to play multiple positions because of this athleticism. I see his future at guard, but it's not impossible he could wind up at OT, even C in a pinch.
Josh Boutte is awesome. LSU, where we recruit grizzly bears.
High End: All-SEC and three-year starter.
Low End: Swing lineman, a la T-Bob/Williford, that plays a lot of minutes.
Realistic: Multi-year starter.