Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame: Former LSU star Eric Andolsek’s football legacy lives on |  LSU

Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame: Former LSU star Eric Andolsek’s football legacy lives on | LSU


Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a series of stories on the 2022 inductees to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies are June 25 in Natchitoches.

Longtime coach Laury Dupont has seen many outstanding high school football players during his tenure on the sidelines.

But there is one player that stands above the rest — Eric Andolsek.

Dupont coached Andolsek during the 1982 and 1983 seasons during his stint at Thibodaux High School. It didn’t take long to realize Andolsek was a special football player.

“You can tell that Eric’s talent was above everyone else on the team,” Dupont said. “We predicted that Eric would be a Division I football player and could make it to the pros ever since he came to Thibodaux High.”

Andolsek would go on to parlay his success at Thibodaux to become a standout guard at LSU and eventually in the NFL as an anchor on the Detroit Lions’ offensive line, blocking for star running back Barry Sanders.

However, Andolsek’s life was tragically cut short.

On June 23, 1992, he was killed when a flatbed truck veered off La. 1 and struck him while he was cutting the grass at his Thibodaux home.

Andolsek may be gone but is not forgotten, as his football legacy lives on in the state he called home.

Thirty years later, he’ll take his place among the state’s greatest athletes when he and 11 others are inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame on June 25 in Natchitoches.

It’s an honor that holds a special place for Andy Andolsek, Eric’s brother.

“I am fulfilled and grateful for Eric being chosen as a member of the Hall of Fame and to be part of that organization with others of similar stature,” Andy Andolsek said.

Renee Jennings said she is overwhelmed with excitement and pride knowing her brother’s hard work and dedication to the game of football is being recognized.

“His passion, work ethic and dedication to his sport was infectious to anyone who knew him,” she said. “Even after 30 years since his death, we feel this is just another testimony of our beloved Eric’s true legacy.”

Former LSU quarterback Tommy Hodson understands the joy the Andolsek family is feeling as a 2013 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductee.

Hodson said it’s a well-deserved honor for Andolsek, who helped protect the legendary LSU quarterback during the 1986 and ’87 seasons.

“I’m so happy for Eric’s family and everyone in Lafourche Parish because so many people loved him,” Hodson said. “It’s great to see that he will be getting his just due by going into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.”

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Andolsek’s football journey started at Thibodaux High where he was an all-state pick. He also was an Adidas All-American after excelling on the offensive and defensive lines.

But it was at LSU where football fans across the country would discover something people in Louisiana knew: Andolsek was a special football player.

Andolsek started to assert himself as one of LSU’s top offensive linemen as a sophomore.

The 6-foot-2, 286-pound guard would eventually become a three-year starter and was a team captain and two-time All-SEC selection in 1986 and 1987.

Former LSU offensive tackle John Hazard said Andolsek’s intensity on the field helped make him one of the top guards in college football.

Andolsek’s intensity on the field paid dividends for LSU, as the Tigers had a successful four-year stretch during his tenure.

LSU posted a 36-9-3 overall record and a 19-4-2 mark in SEC play, including two conference championships, in Andolsek’s four-year stay.

Hazard said many teammates fed off his energy and became better players because of it.

“Eric was always so locked in and intense on the field,” he said. “He was such a fierce competitor that even the coaches didn’t want to upset him.”

That changed as soon as the pads were off, Hodson said.

“Eric was fierce and competitive, but you wouldn’t know from his exterior that he was really a teddy bear,” he said. “He was a good guy and good pal to be around, that’s the kind of guy that he was.”

Andolsek’s dream of playing in the NFL became a reality when the Lions selected him in the fifth round (111th overall) in 1988.

Andolsek’s intensity and overall play along the offensive line once again paid dividends as the Lions went from a struggling franchise to one win away from Super Bowl XXVII.

Four years into his career, Andolsek was considered an up-and-coming NFL guard, a future All-Pro, before his life was tragically cut short at the age of 25.

While he made a name for himself at LSU and with the Lions, Dupont said Andolsek left a lasting legacy in his home state.

“Everybody loved him,” Dupont said. “No one was better than Eric on and off the field. Everybody still thinks about him because you don’t forget a legend like Eric Andolsek. Nobody was better than him.”

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