South Carolina Football: Gamecock named top-10 nationally at his position

South Carolina football defensive tackle Tonka Hemingway was ranked inside the top-10 returning defensive tackles in the country.

South Carolina football defensive lineman Tonka Hemingway
South Carolina football defensive lineman Tonka Hemingway / Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY

South Carolina football fans are anxiously awaiting to see how their defense fares in 2024. After a disastrous start to the season on that side of the football, the Gamecocks primarily utilized a 3-3-5 look with much better results in the season's final three games.

As of now, it is unclear if defensive coordinator Clayton White will go back to the 4-2-5, use the 3-3-5 as the team's primary defensive set, or if they try to run both looks.

Thankfully for the Gamecocks, they have plenty of versatile players who can fit in either scheme. One of these versatile players is South Carolina native Tonka Hemingway.

Hemingway will utilize his "Covid redshirt" year to return to Columbia for a 5th season, and #91 will have a chance to play multiple positions for the Gamecocks in 2024. Primarily a defensive tackle, Hemingway has played some defensive end in his career with the majority of those end snaps having come at the end of 2023 in the 3-3-5.

With a big role all but guaranteed for Hemingway, PFF's college division ranked Hemingway one of the country's top-10 returning players at the defensive tackle position. He slotted in at #8 in the rankings.

PFF likes Hemingway a lot. He was one of just 10 defensive tackles in all of Power-5 football in 2023 to receive 75+ grades as both a run defender and as a pass rusher. The former 4-star prospect has not accumulated a lot of stats in his career, but he does his job well in every situation and makes life easier for his teammates to make plays.

Hemingway will play alongside and in a rotation this season with fellow athletic defensive tackles like TJ Sanders and Deandre Jules, and Boogie Huntley, Nick Barrett, and Jerome Simmons could factor into the position battle on the inside.

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