Expected Contributors: Senior Joey Ivie (6-3, 290), Redshirt Junior Caleb Brantley (6-2, 300), Redshirt Sophomore Khairi Clark (6-2, 326), Redshirt Sophomore Taven Bryan (6-5, 293), Sophomore CeCe Jefferson (6-1, 270), Redshirt Freshman Luke Ancrum (6-5, 257), Redshirt Freshman Andrew Ivie (6-1, 278)
Strengths: The two starters are a real strength. Joey Ivie and Caleb Brantley have plenty of experience to fall back on and a good deal of talent.
Both guys will play the 3-technique and nose plenty this season and they have different tools to draw from. Brantley possesses overpowering size and strength combined with surprising quickness to make the big play at any time. Ivie has the strength and is absolutely relentless to the ball. He will stay after it play after play keeping him on the field for quite a while.
Bryan hasn’t played a whole lot, but he’s made some plays in his time on the field. The thing about Bryan is his outrageous athleticism for his size. Teammates call him a freak among other things that describe his unique size-speed-quickness combination
Clark got on the field as a redshirt freshman more than most thought he would. Not considered a big play maker, he has the size and ability to be a stuffer in the middle of the defense which is more like the job defensive tackles are usually assigned to do. Clark was put in a lot of tough situations a year ago and played well more often than not.
Weaknesses: The list above seems like enough to have a strong unit this season and it is what I expect. We just don’t know what we’ll get from the younger Ivie and Ancrum is a bit undersized at this time to make a difference. The only super-sized guy up front is Clark, so going up against the more powerful run teams in the SEC could take its toll over the course of a game.
Comparison to 2015: The big and only loss of course is Jonathan Bullard to the NFL. He had a terrific season and was a playmaker inside. It’s hard to believe Ivie or a Brantley can meet Bullard’s numbers individually, but when you have a seasoned Jefferson and Clark now I think this group can make up a lot of what will be lost.