Predictions for the South Carolina football team's two-deep on defense this fall

South Carolina football is 76 days from their season opener. What might the two-deep on defense look like this fall?
South Carolina football linebacker Debo Williams, safety Nick Emmanwori, and tackle TJ Sanders
South Carolina football linebacker Debo Williams, safety Nick Emmanwori, and tackle TJ Sanders / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Football Two-Deep Predictions on Defense:
Defensive Tackle

Defensive tackle is one of the hardest positions to predict (in terms of the starting lineup) on the entire team. Figuring out the team's top-6 players at the position is easy as TJ Sanders, Tonka Hemingway, Boogie Huntley, DeAndre Jules, Monkell Goodwine, and Nick Barrett are going to lead the way at the position. However, determining which players start and which ones are the first subs off the bench will be much more difficult.

Plus, there is the added variable of multiple defensive fronts to consider. If Carolina is running a 4-2-5, the two tackle spots are more interchangeable (though, there is still some distinction). In the 3-3-5, there is just one true tackle, and he is a nose tackle until passing situations. On early downs, at least one end in the 3-3-5 could be an athletic tackle, as well.

Nailing down a two-deep isn't easy, but let's give it a try anyway. For the purpose of this projection, a starter at nose, another defensive tackle starter, and a backup at each spot will be given:


Alex "Boogie" Huntley is a captain and an experienced player for the Gamecock defense. He and Tonka Hemingway have played more snaps than any of the other tackles, and that experience likely will give Huntley the initial starting role inside.

Depending on what type of unit defensive line coach Travian Robertson needs from week to week will play a big role in who plays what role, but Huntley will get most of his snaps this fall at nose in the 3-3-5 or at 1-technique to 3-technique in the 4-2-5.

With all the talent at the position, there likely will be more than just two players who get starts at defensive tackle this fall, but Boogie Huntley is virtually guaranteed to be one of them.


A transfer from Pitt, DeAndre Jules is a big tackle (listed at 6'3"/6'4" and over 310 pounds), but he is lighter on his feet than one might expect. Jules was an EDGE prospect out of high school, and he could play either tackle spot for the Gamecocks this fall.

However, Jules' best fit is at nose. He is 10 pounds heavier than Boogie Huntley and significantly more athletic than other nose body types like Nick Barrett, Jerome Simmons, and Jamaal Whyce.

Pat Narduzi, Jules' head coach at Pitt, once said, "I could see that guy playing in the NFL" when speaking about the big fella. That potential is there for #99, and if he has a good fall camp, Jules will be in for a big role with the Gamecocks as a prominent member of the defensive tackle rotation.


Deciding which player will "start" in this hypothetical two-deep at defensive tackle is splitting hairs, but Tonka Hemingway is the most experienced of the group. In the 4-2-5, this position will play anywhere from 2-technique out to 5-technique for the Gamecocks and will require athleticism, something Hemingway has in spades.

He certainly will share snaps with TJ Sanders, and there will be instances in which the duo play next to each other. They are the two most talented defensive tackles on the team, and if last year is any indication, their snap counts will be very similar.

Hemingway is a candidate to kick out and play end some in the 3-3-5, and his versatile skillset as a pass rusher and run stopper will allow him to see the field in almost any situation.


As was mentioned above about Tonka Hemingway, the "starter" and "backup" designations at this spot are nominal only. Sanders and Hemingway will play almost identical snaps, sometimes next to each other and sometimes with the other on the bench.

Right now, Sanders is the best NFL prospect of any defensive tackle on the roster, and his combination of size, length, strength, and quickness is a rare commodity. Because of that, he could play multiple roles for the Gamecock D this fall.

There is also a reality where both Tonka Hemingway and TJ Sanders are just too good to keep out of the starting lineup as a duo. In the 3-3-5, Hemingway could play outside while Sanders plays nose, and in the 4-2-5, the two athletic tackles could occupy both middle spots.

With more depth at the position than USC has had in quite a while, there will be plenty of rotating responsibility for defensive line coach Travian Robertson, but if the Gamecocks don't need a traditional "nose," it would make most sense to start both Sanders and Hemingway together. Even if a nose is needed, Sanders is good enough to hold his own there, too.*


While Tonka Hemingway, TJ Sanders, and Boogie Huntley are clear members of the two-deep, and DeAndre Jules figures to be the favorite to be the fourth person of that group, there are other defensive tackles who should see some action this fall.

Former Alabama Crimson Tide lineman Monkell Goodwin had a good spring, and Nick Barrett is one of the few players on the roster with a true nose tackle build. Both players will see the field. Jerome Simmons was well thought of out of junior college, but a summer enrollment might make finding a role this fall difficult. Bigger ends like Elijah Davis and Jatius Geer could get tackle snaps in 3rd-and-long situations.