Fall Camp Preview: Defensive Tackles

Fall camp is about to begin for the Hurricanes so lets take a closer look at the team. This piece focuses on the defensive tackles.

Coach: Jethro Franklin (2nd season)

The Players:
Darius Smith (6-2/360/Sr) ... 12 games; 21 tackles (3 for loss)
Curtis Porter (6-1/300/Jr) ... 11 games; 15 tackles (2 for loss)
Luther Robinson (6-3/295/Jr) ... 11 games; 3 tackles (1 for loss)
Olsen Pierre (6-4/265/So) ... 7 games; 4 tackles (0.5 for loss)
Jalen Grimble (6-2/290/So) ... 7 games
Corey King (6-1/295/R-Fr)
Earl Moore (6-1/295/Fr)
Dequan Ivery (6-1/330/Fr)
Jacoby Briscoe (6-5/310/Fr)

Top Returner: Smith was a starter for much of last season alongside Micanor Regis. He played pretty well, too, in his first season as a Hurricane. The former Junior College transfer is a huge clog in the middle of the defense and wile he might not be extremely active (although he's the most active returning player at this position), he makes life a lot easier on the linebackers playing behind him. He should be ready for a big senior season.

Top Newcomer: Moore was offered the earliest of the three incoming freshmen. Does that mean that's the one they wanted most? Not necessarily, but it means he's definitely a player the coaches wanted early in the recruiting process last year. Ivery and Briscoe have the ideal size that might enable them to play a little earlier but Moore gives this unit something it's missing a bit at the top of the depth chart -- the ability to penetrate opposing backfields and make plays along the line of scrimmage. He should log quality minutes this fall.

Bottom Line: Smith and Porter give the Hurricanes a good tandem and probably the biggest set of starting defensive tackles in the entire conference. Grimble and Pierre have both logged time at defensive end so they're a little more athletic and should be more active inside. Robinson has been a career backup but is coming off a solid spring. If he can give the Canes quality minutes this fall, it'd be a plus. A lot of the success of this unit will depend on the health of Porter. When healthy, he can be a real difference maker. The sophomores should be much improved and much bigger than they were this time a year ago. Losing Regis will hurt some but this unit has the size, the talent, and the depth to be very good by the time the season rolls around.

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