South Carolina football fans have been satisfied this offseason with the Gamecock coaching staff's efforts on the recruiting trail and in the transfer portal. Holes on the roster are being filled, and the team is set to be more competitive in 2024 if things work out well at a couple of spots.
However, even with all of the recruiting and transfer portal work, there are still a couple of missing pieces that the South Carolina football roster needs to find moving forward.
One of those missing pieces is young defensive tackle.
Right now, the Gamecocks only have one scholarship player at the defensive tackle spot who is a sophomore or younger. Redshirt sophomore Jamaal Whyce and true junior Jerome Simmons are also the only two players on the interior of the defensive line who have a chance to be on the roster by the time 2026 rolls around (Simmons still has a redshirt available).
As it turns out, there is a young defensive tackle right in the Gamecocks' backyard.
Blythewood High School junior Sterling Sanders is one of the most underrated players in the state in the class of 2025. Standing at 6'5" and weighing in at 293 pounds, Sanders has some positional versatility at the defensive tackle spot. He has experience playing nose tackle and 3-technique/4-technique tackle, meaning he could play defensive tackle in a 4-2-5 (either spot) or 3-3-5 defense (nose).
He's also played well in those spots. Sanders was named to the All-Midlands Team this fall and recently was named the Defensive MVP of the High School Blitz Junior Showcase. As a sophomore, he was part of a Blythewood defense that gave up more than 13 points just three times all season, and he was even better as a junior when he became a player who could impact an opponent's run game and passing game from the interior of the defensive line.
Sanders already has scholarship offers from a handful of Division-1 teams like Charlotte, Georgia Southern, and Coastal Carolina, but there has been some interest from big-time programs like South Carolina, Florida State, LSU, Florida, and Virginia Tech.
This week, Sanders announced on social media that he would be visiting the South Carolina football program this weekend as part of the Gamecocks' Junior Day.
The big defensive lineman will have another chance to work out in front of USC defensive line coach Travian Robertson and defensive coordinator Clayton White.
His best trait on film is his ability to generate push inside. In passing situations, he collapses the pocket by driving interior offensive linemen back into the quarterback. Against the run, he eliminates holes by filling them with his gargantuan frame and a defeated, backpedaling offensive lineman. If he can show that ability this weekend, perhaps he will impress the Gamecocks enough to earn an offer.
If Sanders continues to work on his technique and his speed and strength in the weight room, he has big-time potential.
You can watch some of his film here.