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Top Five Defensive Tackle Signees For 2011

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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Reaction To Clowney Choosing South Carolina

South Carolina received the perfect closing to its 2011 class on Monday when defensive end Jadeveon Clowney from Rock Hill, S.C., signed with the Gamecocks.

Clowney is the sixth defensive lineman to choose South Carolina in the 2011 class. Several of those players, including Clowney and defensive tackles Kelcy Quarles and Phillip Dukes, are expected to play right away.

The nation’s eyes were watching on Monday as Clowney, who was also celebrating his 18th birthday, announced his college choice on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

The nation also reacted the hoopla had ended and Clowney’s decision was known. Here’s a look at what was said following Clowney’s announced.

1. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said he’s excited to land Clowney and the fans should be, too.

2. Travis Haney of the Charleston Post and Courier has an interesting Q&A with Clowney’s mother, Josenna Clowney.

3. People upset about the attention on Clowney shouldn’t be, writes Andy Staples. That style of announcement is the norm.

4. Staples also looks at the courtship of South Carolina to keep Clowney from choosing Clemson or Alabama.

5. South Carolina moved up to No. 12 in the team rankings thanks to Clowney’s addition to the class.

6. Dennis Dodd looks at the process and attention paid to Clowney, who now has plenty of pressure on him to succeed at the next level.

7. If you missed it, the New York Times wrote about Clowney’s eligibility concerns. Many people around Clowney on Monday said they expect him to qualify this fall.

8. Spurrier was one of those people. He said Clowney is in better academic shape than a lot of South Carolina’s signees.

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Lineman Dukes Commits To South Carolina

Defensive tackle Phillip Dukes from Manning (S.C.) High School has committed to South Carolina.

Dukes is ranked the nation’s No. 9 defensive tackle and No. 104 prospect overall by

Dukes, who is the 33rd commitment for South Carolina’s class of 2011, joins an already impressive list of defensive linemen committed to South Carolina.

South Carolina has commitments from six defensive linemen, including Kelcy Quarles and brothers Gerald Dixon and Gerald Dixon Jr. Of course, South Carolina is hoping to land defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who’s considered the nation’s top prospect by Rivals and several other recruiting services.

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