LSU’s list of underclassmen entering the NFL draft reached 11 Wednesday when offensive tackle Chris Faulk decided to forgo his senior season.
Faulk was considered a candidate for early entry before the season, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener against North Texas.
Apparently he felt that he had sufficiently recovered from knee surgery to be able to convince NFL scouts that he’s ready for the next level.
LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette said Wednesday night that Faulk told him he was going to the NFL.
Faulk’s injury started a series of changes on the Tigers offensive line that contributed to an uneven offensive performance as LSU finished 10-3. Later guard Josh Williford was sidelined by a concussion and tackle Alex Hurst left the team for personal reasons.
Senior Josh Dworaczyk moved from guard to replace Faulk, and Chris Davenport, who was next in line at left tackle, said Tuesday that he was planning to enroll at Tulane for his final season after having graduated from LSU.
That leaves the left tackle spot open for competition next season. Next on the depth chart would be freshman Jerald Hawkins, though starting left guard La’el Collins was a highly regarded left tackle coming out of Redemptorist High School in 2011 and could move back there. An incoming recruit or two could also be in the mix.
Faulk, an all-state player from Northshore High School in Slidell, redshirted upon his arrival in 2009 and played in 11 games, starting two, at right tackle as a redshirt freshman.
In the spring of 2011, Faulk moved to left tackle and earned a starting position. He was named second-team all-Southeastern Conference and was a preseason second-team pick this season.
The other underclassmen from this year’s team to declare early are defensive ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, defensive tackle Bennie Logan, linebacker Kevin Minter, safety Eric Reid, cornerback Tharold Simon, running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford, and punter Brad Wing.
Cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who was kicked off the team during preseason camp, is also headed to the draft.
It appears all of the Tigers’ potential early entrants, including safety Craig Loston who plans to come back to school, have announced their intentions.
The deadline for applying is Jan. 15, but NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said players who apply have 72 hours to rescind their declaration after the filing deadline. He said the league likely will announce the final list of early entrants Jan. 19.
Though the 11 early departures are believed to be the most from one school in one draft, ESPN college football studio host Rece Davis said Wednesday that the distinction should be viewed as a positive for the program.
“There is great talent in the program at LSU,” Davis said during a telephone interview to promote the Capital One Cup competition. “In addition to aspiring to win championships for their university and their teammates, (top players) aspire to achieve the highest personal goals.
“I don’t think it’s bad. Excellence begets excellence. I think it signifies that LSU is good at developing players and getting them ready for the NFL. There’s some great talent whose time to move on has come. It’s a good problem to have. The last thing you want is to have a bunch of seniors coming back who aren’t very good players.”
The Capital One Cup standings through the fall season were released Wednesday and will be updated at the end of the winter and spring seasons.
LSU is not in the top 10 among the men or the women. Alabama, Indiana and North Dakota State are tied atop the men’s standings and North Carolina and Penn State are tied atop the women’s standings.