The South Carolina Gamecocks do not have to worry about their defensive line next season.
Still, if it could get better, that defensive line could be by far the best in the nation.
The line is anchored by Jadeveon Clowney, the nation’s best defensive end this season (Ted Hendricks award winner). He’s already said he wants to get better next year; Better enough, even, to win the Heisman Trophy.
On the other side of the line, though, the Gamecocks will be without Devin Taylor. He’s graduating this year, and his shoes will be tough to fill.
The list of guys who have a legit shot to contend to replace him is:
Darius English: 2013 Sophomore, 6-6, 215 lbs.
Gerald Dixon: 2013 Sophomore, 6-2, 272 lbs.
Chaz Sutton: 2014 Senior, 6-5, 248 lbs.
Personally, my pick would be Chaz Sutton right now. He had five sacks this year and 22 tackles this season, and has more experience than either of the other two players.
Taylor isn’t the only player South Carolina is losing off of its defensive line.
Byron Jerideau is also leaving due to graduation.
His most likely replacement is T.J. Surratt, who had 13 tackles and half a sack this year.
The other man that will be manning the inside of the line is Kelcy Quarles. He’ll be a junior next season, and in 2012 he recorded 36 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Clearly South Carolina’s defensive line will be one of the best in the SEC next season. If Quarles and Clowney develop, and Sutton and Surratt turn into great replacements for Taylor and Jerideau, it could be one of the best in the nation.