Lawson, LSU's No. 7 commit, improving

BATON ROUGE -- Based purely on physical appearance, Tevin Lawson looks like he could be ready for college football right now.

Listed at 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, Lawson became one of LSU's newest additions to the defensive line on March 30, when he became commitment No. 7 for Les Miles.

As imposing as he might be as a high school junior, the Denham Springs product has only scratched the surface of what he could become, according to his high school coach, Dru Nettles.

"You could see his athleticism from early in the year," Nettles said. "[LSU] definitely identified him as a guy with a great frame that's going to put on 25, 30 pounds and be a guy that's probably going to be 300 pounds, that can run."

That kind of development should be quite a quick transition for Lawson. Considering he's committed to play for one of the most feared defenses in college football, it's easy to forget that just eight months ago he lined up along the offensive line.

"When he came in here we had him at left tackle, starting as a sophomore," Nettles said. "He had a tremendous amount of skill doing that -- long arms, good feet … But he's only 6-foot-4."

Nettles acknowledged that Lawson still has plenty to improve in his approaching senior season. But the junior's athleticism is something he said jumps off the game tape, even though he is unpolished.

"He was just a disruptive force. He really pushed the pocket back and made plays from side to side," he said. "On any broken play you can see him downfield, running."

While Lawson lacks the monstrous size required to play offensive tackle in the SEC, he's more than big enough for the defensive front. He still has some weight to put on, but Lawson currently stands taller than all of the LSU defensive tackles who are competing for playing time in 2012.

Nettles said that Lawson's natural athleticism saw him move into Denham Springs' defensive lineup as a junior. When the defense struggled to begin the 2011 season, the coaches made the decision to make the move permanent.

"We needed help on defense immediately. We moved him over there full time and just let him start playing," Nettles said. "He played the back half of the year and was all-district, all-metro and obviously earned himself some scholarship offers just because they could see the athleticism … big guys that can run are such a premium these days."

Although the move has caused Lawson's college prospects to skyrocket, Nettles said scholarships weren't the primary motivator so much as the team's success. He added that, given the tendencies of college programs to move players, Lawson's position change would have happened eventually.

"We want to utilize our kids the best we can to help our team right now," he said. "But just through the recruiting process and knowing coaches and year after year how they move people around, we get that."

With the recruiting process now out of the way, Nettles said Lawson can continue to improve the technical aspects of his game.

"He needs to continue to learn how to use his hands. Defensive linemen -- the best ones know how to use their hands while they're moving those good feet," Nettles said. "He's just got to continue to play and learn the small things that will make him a good defensive lineman, and make sure he's not slowing himself down thinking."