HOOVER, Ala. — If all goes according to plan, by midseason LSU offensive tackle Austin Deculus will have played in more games than any Tiger in history.
Yet most fans probably wouldn’t know him if he sat down at their breakfast table — and at 320 pounds, he’d probably stop and graze awhile.
But he is, of course, an offensive lineman, mostly doomed to a football life of anonymity while paving the way for the better known stars.
Just another big big lug down there hidden under a helmet.
But that’s one of the great things about SEC Media Days.
Out of the blue, a star may have been born Monday when LSU hit the big preseason stage in this Birmingham suburb.
Coach O was here, of course, And Derek Stingley, the All-American cornerback got most of the attention.
But the big guy with the long hair stole the show anyway, easily the biggest hit among the three teams that took their turns in an event many selected players dread.
It’s exhausting, sometimes referred to as the “car wash” as they make the rounds, hearing the same questions over and over while being led like cattle through the big ballroom, with various stops at the various networks’ cubby holes before a trip down radio row.
Deculus, on the other hand, loved it. Couldn’t wait. Said he’s been smiling ever since Orgeron texted him to “Get ready for Media Days — and get a haircut.”
“I had the biggest smile on my face. Just being able to represent LSU, which has always been my dream school.”
It was a surprise when he was selected and he still couldn’t believe he was on stage.
“I still feel like I’m dreaming,” he said gazing out over the crowd. “I love talking to y’all guys in the media. I just don’t like listening to myself talk — which is bad because I love to talk.”
But about the haircut Coach O suggested ...
Yes, it turns out, he — his girlfriend, actually — did trim about five inches from a Fabian-style, flowing mane that is his trademark.
Still, he’s not sure it will help him take advantage of the NCAA’s looser Name Image Likeness rules that allow players to profit from their fame.
“I’m not really expecting any NIL deals,” he said. “Guys like Derek Stingley, the pretty boys of the team, they’re going to get their faces on everything ... there’s only one person who loves this face and she’s back in my apartment.”
Someone suggested hair products.
“I’ve got my fingers crossed,” he said.
Another some hair-cutting salon.
“They’d have to talk to my girlfriend first,” he explained.
He was having a ball in the rare spotlight, affable and still smiling from ear to ear.
Deculus came to LSU from Cypress, Texas, but he lists his hometown as the pure-Cajun Mamou where he was born and where the family roots are.
So he was able to regal the media with tales of eating alligator tails and the boudin balls he makes to go with grandma’s chicken-and-sausage gumbo.
Not to mention that he likes to whip up “ground bison” at his apartment.
That’s probably not why Orgeron chose him to represent LSU, but it’s the kind of real stuff worth knowing.
Orgeron lists him as one of the team’s real leaders and credits him with one of the offseason’s surprises.
“He was instrumental in getting our whole offensive line to come back,” Orgeron said of the pandemic rules that allowed for an extra year of eligibility.
At least it was the entire offensive line back until Dare Rosenthall, Deculus’ best friend, transferred to Kentucky.
“There’s a lot of reasons why we chose to come back,” Deculus said. “The thing going 5-5 (last year) ... I kind of like told those guys, look what happened whenever we all came back, 2019 season, all that (national championship). I just sprinkled that insight on them, and we hit the ground running.”
When it’s over, he’ll need to add just six more games to the 48 he’s already played in to have the LSU record.
It will be hard to match the fun he had Monday.
“I owed it to the state of Louisiana,” he said. “This state is deserving of what’s coming this season.”
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at.