The defensive line was the most experienced unit on the team. Three of the four D-line starters Jon Simmons, Terrence Royal and Tim Jones were seniors. Also key backup lineman Jason Allen was playing in his final season as a Bull. The line was led by Terrance Royal who was a monster coming off his right end position. Royal had 10 sacks on the year, but he saved his best performance for an important game at Rutgers. Royal could not be stopped that day compiling 6 tackles and one sack. But his most important play came in the third quarter when he picked up a fumble and ran it 11-yards for his first career touchdown. Royal also had an interception in that game.
Royal led by example on the field.
Also contributing to the success of the defensive line was Tim Jones. He was a backup against Penn State, but started every game after that. He established himself as one of the best run-stoppers on the field, finishing the season with 38 tackles, 3 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries. Mid-way through the season the staff put Richard Clebert along side Jones, which strengthened the middle of the line against the run. In the first 4 games Clebert started with Jones, the defense only gave up 2 touchdowns on the ground.
Although there are three starters from last year's team graduating, there is still plenty of talent to fill the holes. Both Richard Clebert and Allen Cray saw significant time at nose tackle, and both will be returning to compete for the starting job. Look for Tavarious Robinson, Jariett Buie, Josh Julmiste and Eric Thomas to compete for the spots left vacant by Jon Simmons and Terrence Royal. Eric Thomas could also play inside at the tackle position if needed. If he does move inside he will be battling with Cray, Clebert, Woody George and newcomer Frank Harry for the two tackle spots.
Allen Cray has the size to win back the starting job.
Defensive line was one of USF's main concerns coming into this recruiting season. In the end the staff did a great job of filling this position with excellent talent. Defensive line was their highest rated position, landing two four star tackles in JUCO transfer Frank Harry and Hillsborough High standout Leslie Stirrups. The coaches also really like David Fonua of Bradenton South East. At defensive end they loaded up on a couple kids with a ton of potential Joseph Jackson, Josh Smiley, Aaron Harris and Craig Marshall are all big explosive type players that are built in the same mold as Terrence Royal.
Expect Frank Harry to come in and earn a starting position.
A couple of these recruits will redshirt this year. It's hard to say exactly which one's, but I'm almost certain one will be Joseph Jackson from Booker T. in Miami. He's a kid that played LB/DE in high school, but the coaches like his 6-foot-4 frame and are bringing him in as a defensive end. He only weighs 215 and will most likely need a year to bulk up.
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Breakdown: Defensive Line
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