The face of South Carolina football is gone, but losing Jadeveon Clowney to the NFL will not be the end of the world for the Gamecocks. Continuing the breakdown of the 2014 roster, it’s time to dive into the defensive line.
The defensive line has been a strong part of South Carolina’s team for years. Players like Melvin Ingram, Devin Taylor, Clowney, and Kelcy Quarles have led the way to success for the Gamecocks.
Losing Clowney, Quarles and Chaz Sutton from last year’s monster line certainly hurts, but the 2014 edition won’t be too shabby.
J.T. Suratt will anchor the line at defensive tackle. Suratt hasn’t had much media attention, but that’s only because of the star talent around him hogging it all. The senior will bring leadership and some semblance of stability to a talented, but otherwise inexperienced group.
It’s unclear who will partner Suratt at the other defensive tackle spot. Phillip Dukes and Gerald Dixon Jr. will both have a good chance at starting. They’re both 6-foot-3 and around 325 pounds and figure to be great run stoppers. A line that will not have the pass rushing ability of last year may be even more dominant against the run.
JUCO transfer Abu Lamin entered the spring lower down on the depth chart, but a fantastic spring may see him get considerable playing time in the fall. The coaches are high on this kid, and he has the potential to be a star.
Defensive end will most likely feature Gerald Dixon and Darius English. And yes, there is a Gerald Dixon and Gerald Dixon Jr. on Carolina’s line. Read this Sports Grid article to sort through the mess.
Dixon is 6-foot-2 and 267 pounds. He’ll be a sure starter on the end opposite of English. He won’t have the speed of Clowney, but he’ll be able to push his way around offensive linemen in the league.
English has had a huge transformation since the beginning of spring. The 6-foot-7 end weighed in at 235 pounds entering spring practice, but at the coaching staff’s urging has worked furiously on gaining weight to fill in his freakishly tall frame. He’s already 25o pounds and is expected to hit 260 or more. Though he won’t have the power Clowney did, he will be a similar size and will have good speed coming off the edge.
The line will certainly miss Clowney and Quarles, but the group will be solid enough to help the defense try to be as dominant as last year’s unit.