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30 Greatest Tigers of the Decade: #30 Ben Wilkerson

#30 Ben Wilkerson
#30 Ben Wilkerson

Ben Wilkerson was part of the remarkable 2001 class Nick Saban hauled in.  Wilkerson was one of the top offensive line prospects in the country, heck at any position, and immediately made an impact on the team.  Big Ben earned a starting job as a freshman, one he never relinquished until suffering a knee injury his senior year.

Wilkerson started 41 games over four seasons, a terrific feat for an offensive lineman.  As the center, he anchored the line for four years.  Over that span, a different running back led the team in rushing each year, showing off that maybe it was the line and not the running backs which sparked the offensive success. 

He made first team All-American in 2004, after finishing second team in 2003.  Wilkerson was honored in 2004 with the Rimington Award, annually awarded to the nation's top center.  Believe it or not, Ben Wilkerson won the award, but not Kevin Mawae.  Even more amazing, he was only the third Tiger ever to win a national individual football award (the others being Josh Reed and the Biletnikoff and of course Billy Cannon and the Heisman). 

Over the past two decades, LSU has been a virtual factory of offensive line talent for the NFL.  It's hard to determine which one of them was the best one, but our stellar line play has been at the center of everything the offenses have accomplished over the program's resurgence.  Wilkerson is great in his own right, but he has to stand in for every faceless lineman that has gone through the program.  The guys up front are never appreciated, and they only get noticed when they miss a block.  Wilkerson was a rare exception, making an impression from one of the hardest positions to make an impression.