They’re history: Offensive tackles Will Campbell, Emery Jones become LSU’s fourth true freshmen combo to start in at least 37 years

LSU true freshman left offensive tackle Will Campbell (66) has started in the first three games of his college career. PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes

Three weeks, three different starting offensive lines. One historical footnote.

After three weeks of playing musical chairs with its offensive line LSU (2-1) expects to have the same five starters from a week ago when they host New Mexico (2-1) in Saturday’s non-conference game at 6:30 at Tiger Stadium.

That means the Tigers will have true freshman tackles – Will Campbell and Emery Jones Jr. – on opposite sides along with center Charles Turner and guards Garrett Dellinger and Miles Frazier.

“I would say that he exceeded expectations,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said of Jones in his Monday news conference. “You know, he’s not going to be perfect, but he’s active. He’s got great feet.”

A huge smile enveloped Kelly’s face at the thought of the athleticism the 335-pound Jones showed during his one-on-one tackle in Saturday’s 31-16 win over Mississippi State of punt returner Zavion Thomas at LSU’s 49-yard line in the first quarter.

It was a play that potentially saved a touchdown which Jones celebrated, the first of many moments that marked his first collegiate start.

LSU’s come-from-behind win over Mississippi State proved memorable on several fronts, the most significant was the team’s ability to overcome an early malaise on offense and generate 175 of its 416 total yards during a 21-point fourth quarter surge.

The offensive line, which suffered three false start penalties in its first two series, got stronger and helped pave the way with 206 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns from Jayden Daniels, Josh Williams and Armoni Goodwin – all in the fourth quarter.

“For those two guys it was an amazing opportunity for them to showcase their talents and what they’ll be able to do for us for the remainder of the season,” said Turner, who got his first start of the season. “Those two guys stepped up a tremendous amount. We’ve all still got to get better, but them as true freshman, they played very well.”

The tandem of Campbell at left tackle and Jones at right tackle, fast friends during their respective recruiting process, became the fourth combination of true freshmen to start for LSU since at least 1985.

Not since Saahdiq Charles and Ed Ingram started together for a total of eight games during the 2017 season have the Tigers had two players like Campbell and Jones able to step in as freshman and physically and mentally be able to handle the demands of the position.

They appear to be just getting started.

Campbell enrolled in January at LSU, went through spring and was the team’s starter at left tackle during the spring game. The four-year starter at Neville High in Monroe was a four-star prospect, the No. 1 ranked offensive lineman in the state and was the nation’s No. 4 overall prospect by ESPN.

The spring and preseason practice, where he routinely faced interior lineman Maason Smith, Jacquelin Roy and edge rusher BJ Ojulari, more than prepared Campbell to step into a starter’s role in the team’s season opener against Florida State.

Jones didn’t arrive at LSU until the summer and began working toward garnering a role in LSU’s offensive line rotation.

He was a four-star prospect from Baton Rouge’s Catholic High where he helped the Bears to the Division I state championship in 2021. The two-time Class 5A All-State selection was part of a program that won 44 games in four years and played in four state title games.

At LSU, it hasn’t taken Jones long to get to the field. He was in a constant battle for the No. 2 spot at offensive guard until his breakthrough moment last week and a starting berth against Mississippi State.

“I was extremely proud of them, I thought they played extremely well,” LSU’s Josh Williams said. “Those guys are going to be amazing. Just seeing what they can do as freshman, I’m so excited to see their potential.

“They have that dog in them” Williams said. “They come to practice with that energy every day and they never back down from a battle no matter if you’re a senior or the same age. They’re going to go at you every time. That’s what I love about them so much.”

Three weeks, three different starting offensive lines. One historical footnote.

After three weeks of playing musical chairs with its offensive line LSU (2-1) expects to have the same five starters from a week ago when they host New Mexico (2-1) in Saturday’s non-conference game at 6:30 at Tiger Stadium.

That means the Tigers will have true freshman tackles – Will Campbell and Emery Jones Jr. – on opposite sides along with center Charles Turner and guards Garrett Dellinger and Miles Frazier.

“I would say that he exceeded expectations,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said of Jones in his Monday news conference. “You know, he’s not going to be perfect, but he’s active. He’s got great feet.”

A huge smile enveloped Kelly’s face at the thought of the athleticism the 335-pound Jones showed during his one-on-one tackle in Saturday’s 31-16 win over Mississippi State of punt returner Zavion Thomas at LSU’s 49-yard line in the first quarter.

It was a play that potentially saved a touchdown which Jones celebrated, the first of many moments that marked his first collegiate start.

LSU’s come-from-behind win over Mississippi State proved memorable on several fronts, the most significant was the team’s ability to overcome an early malaise on offense and generate 175 of its 416 total yards during a 21-point fourth quarter surge.

The offensive line, which suffered three false start penalties in its first two series, got stronger and helped pave the way with 206 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns from Jayden Daniels, Josh Williams and Armoni Goodwin – all in the fourth quarter.

“For those two guys it was an amazing opportunity for them to showcase their talents and what they’ll be able to do for us for the remainder of the season,” said Turner, who got his first start of the season. “Those two guys stepped up a tremendous amount. We’ve all still got to get better, but them as true freshman, they played very well.”

The tandem of Campbell at left tackle and Jones at right tackle, fast friends during their respective recruiting process, became the fourth combination of true freshmen to start for LSU since at least 1985.

Not since Saahdiq Charles and Ed Ingram started together for a total of eight games during the 2017 season have the Tigers had two players like Campbell and Jones able to step in as freshman and physically and mentally be able to handle the demands of the position.

They appear to be just getting started.

Campbell enrolled in January at LSU, went through spring and was the team’s starter at left tackle during the spring game. The four-year starter at Neville High in Monroe was a four-star prospect, the No. 1 ranked offensive lineman in the state and was the nation’s No. 4 overall prospect by ESPN.

The spring and preseason practice, where he routinely faced interior lineman Maason Smith, Jacquelin Roy and edge rusher BJ Ojulari, more than prepared Campbell to step into a starter’s role in the team’s season opener against Florida State.

Jones didn’t arrive at LSU until the summer and began working toward garnering a role in LSU’s offensive line rotation.

He was a four-star prospect from Baton Rouge’s Catholic High where he helped the Bears to the Division I state championship in 2021. The two-time Class 5A All-State selection was part of a program that won 44 games in four years and played in four state title games.

At LSU, it hasn’t taken Jones long to get to the field. He was in a constant battle for the No. 2 spot at offensive guard until his breakthrough moment last week and a starting berth against Mississippi State.

“I was extremely proud of them, I thought they played extremely well,” LSU’s Josh Williams said. “Those guys are going to be amazing. Just seeing what they can do as freshman, I’m so excited to see their potential.

“They have that dog in them” Williams said. “They come to practice with that energy every day and they never back down from a battle no matter if you’re a senior or the same age. They’re going to go at you every time. That’s what I love about them so much.”

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