I remember back in 2007, thinking we landed the best center prospect in the country. And to make it all the better, his dad was a Louisiana legend (of sorts). It was one of those "all in the family" type of deals. It seems like years ago now, but T-Bob Hebert was once one of the most prized recruits in the country. Without being insulting, I think I can safely say, T-Bob hasn't exactly lived up to his recruiting hype. Or has he?
Sure, T-Bob may have never become a dominant center for us, but he's been an off and on starter for the entirety of his LSU career, including being thrown into the mix entirely too early. He's become our most essential OL backup, sometimes playing LG, RG, and C in the same game. Without complaint, he's lost his starting center job and been moved all over the interior offensive line. Frankly, player's like this are why LSU is in the position they are in now.
T-Bob is a consummate teammate. He's unselfish. He's a hard worker. He's a leader. And oftentimes, the football ability isn't nearly as important as these intangibles.
It's fitting that T-Bob would be the selected player coming up on the "anniversary" of the 2010 Tennessee debacle. In many ways, he's the play who saved the game for us, bit seeing the seconds ticking down and snapping the ball, which thus allowed the refs to make the penalty call. 2009 Ole Miss reminded T-Bob, "snap the ball." Not exactly "play of the game" material, but still, a heads up play.
Still, I would hate for T-Bob's career to be remembered for that play. Really, T-Bob is a fine example of the evolution of most college athletes... it's just been all out there for us to see. His RS Freshman year, he struggled. He was often pushed around. He wasn't big enough. He wasn't strong enough. He wasn't good enough. The next year, improvement. Soon, he wasn't being bullied and pushed around nearly as much as the year before. As a junior, I could even argue he was a strength. Again, versatility should not be underestimated. He's steadily improved each year. But you don't often expect that when you see four stars next to the name.
In many ways the recruiting services set players up to fail. Some never recover. A player like Jonathan Crompton is largely thought to be one of the biggest busts of the recruiting service era. A much ballyhooed 5-star, it, gasp, took Crompton his entire career to have a productive season. What a waste!
So we're at the halfway point of Hebert's senior season, and sure he's "just" the primary backup on our offensive line and not a surefire top three round pick like some may have projected during his recruiting process. But, in many ways, this is better. Teams need players like T-Bob. I take great enjoyment in watching him play. Why? Because he's all effort. He's lunch pail. He's workmanlike. He's tough and fierce. And against Tennessee, he will be one of the most important players on the field? Why? Because he's an LSU Tiger. And frankly, while there are a few standout names, the success of the 2011 team is because of just that, they are a team, not a bunch of names.
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