March 31st, 2011 08:33 AM║ Posted By: Josh Ward ║ Permalink
Tags: NFL, Nick Who, Phillip Dukes, South Carolina
It’s easy to see the impact of standout defensive tackles on the SEC in recent years.
It’s hard to believe Auburn would have finished the 2010 season undefeated without Nick Fairley. The same can be said for Terrence Cody and Alabama in 2009.
Who will be the difference makers at defensive tackle from the 2011 class? See below.
1. Anthony Johnson – LSU
Johnson looked like an NFL player when he was a junior in high school. Yes, there will be a learning curve for Johnson going from high school to college, but he has the potential to be a future first round pick in the NFL draft. LSU has produced several All-SEC defensive tackles in recent years. Remember Glenn Dorsey and Drake Nevis? Johnson should be next line.
2. Kelcy Quarles – South Carolina
The Gamecocks hope this fella was worth the wait. Quarles signed with South Carolina in 2009 but failed to qualify academically. He spent the fall at Fork Union Military Academy before enrolling in South Carolina in January. Quarles could make a difference right away and should also help lead an impressive Gamecocks defensive line class, which includes Phillip Dukes and national standout Jadeveon Clowney.
3. Phillip Dukes – South Carolina
Speaking of, Dukes was an important signee for Carolina’s class. Some people believe his decision was instrumental in Clowney deciding to stay in state and play for the Gamecocks, too. Dukes (6-2, 295) has a nice frame entering college, and he has the athleticism to make plays on the interior of the defensive line. South Carolina made a splash last year by signing tailback Marcus Lattimore, but the Gamecocks might have made a bigger difference this year with its haul of D-linemen.
4. Gabe Wright – Auburn
His recruitment brought plenty of scrutiny as he kept Auburn fans wondering if he might bolt for Tennessee at the last minute. Wright stuck to his word and chose Auburn, putting on a “Nick Who?” cap on signing day to stir up even more conversation. Wright was a big priority for Auburn for a reason – he can play. Asking Wright to come in and duplicate the production of Fairley from a year ago is unreasonable, but Wright might be in that position in a few years. That’s obviously his plan.
5. Lonnie Gosha – Arkansas
Gosha will probably take some time to contribute at defensive tackle for Arkansas. He (6-2, 270) needs to add weight to be a more effective interior defensive lineman, but he’s a good athlete who should be able to make plays. The Razorbacks might be able to use him as an outside rusher before he makes a full-time move to defensive tackle. Arkansas also signed defensive tackle Demarcus Hodge, who could help create a nice tandem for the Hogs in the future.
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