SDS talent evaluators Jon Cooper and Brad Crawford spent several months breaking down last year’s highlights, incoming talent and projected 2014 impact following spring practice to compile a list of the SEC’s Top 100 players heading into fall. Athletes were selected by position then ranked overall counting down to No. 1.

Stick with SDS throughout summer and get in on the action using the hashtag #SDSTop100 as we unveil a new player daily leading up to opening night on Aug. 28.

35. La’el Collins, Sr., OL, LSU

Les Miles thanked his lucky stars when this all-conference tackle announced he was returning to school to finish out his senior season last, a decision aimed at improving his draft start where he’ll almost certainly be a first-round selection next May.

After two years at guard, Collins moved to left tackle as a junior and in his first start was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week vs. TCU. The transition was smooth and Collins proved to be a natural at the position. He’s one of the veteran leaders on an offense featuring many new faces in 2014. LSU’s going to start a first-year quarterback and several new wide receivers on the outside, so Collins’ expertise in the huddle is key.

During his career, Collins has seen action on 1,690 offensive snaps with 134.5 knockdowns. Arguably the top high school offensive lineman to ever play in Louisiana, Collins has lived up to the gargantuan expectations and will be playing on Sundays after his final season in Baton Rouge.

2013 statistics: Performed well in his first season at tackle after two years playing guard for the Tigers.
2014 projection: One of the top left tackles in college football, Collins should be an Outland Trophy finalist.