Scouting the SEC: South Carolina

After several competitive seasons during the middle years of his tenure at South Carolina, Lou Holtz has recently had a tough go of it with the Gamecocks. Yet even with that, this is a program which continually puts solid defensive prospects into the NFL draft and next year will be no different.

As is the case almost every year, the offensive prospects are highlighted by tough, slug-it-out offensive lineman.  Guard Jonathan Alston quickly gets off the snap of the ball and displays strength at the point of attack, turning defenders off the line.  A solid position blocker, Alston plays with a nasty attitude yet is a marginal athlete best in a small area.  Center John Strickland is explosive on the pivot and plays the position with good amount of intelligence.  Effectively using his hands, Strickland stays square, gets proper positioning against defenders and walls them from the action.  Lacking the dominant base, he rarely gets movement from run blocks and is not a leverage lineman.  Both Gamecocks seniors are free agent type talent that must show  versatility next summer in camp.  Junior tackle Jabari Levey is a huge lineman and solid athlete.  Playing with leverage, he easily turns defenders off the line and is powerful at the point of attack.  Not a lineman who plays with much balance Levey lacks the footwork in space as well as lateral blocking range but looks like a solid strong-side blocking prospect.  Another underclassman, Na'Shan Goddard is also a leverage lineman that combines strength at point of attack with solid blocking techniques.  And while he occasionally displays the ability to slide out and protect the edge, Goddard needs to refine his overall blocking techniques yet offers a good amount of upside the next level.  Receiver Matthew Thomas does not stand out in any single aspect though he's an efficient receiver with relatively soft hands.

As has been the case in recent years the top rated prospects are on defense starting with end George Gause.  A good athlete Gause plays with excellent forward lean, gets leverage on opponents as well as a lot of force going up the field.  Staying with the play Gause is rarely off balance and pursues laterally out to the flanks with speed.  With the ability to immediately change direction, he redirects  to oncoming ball carriers yet is continually doubled by opponents.  With a tall and slender build, Gause does not possess the explosive first step off the snap and gets handled at the line by bigger blockers.  The bottom line is Gause offers a large amounts of of upside potential at defensive end position; a pair of traits in high demand come draft day.  Tackle Darrell Shropshire is a hard working yet smallish interior lineman who gets excellent leverage on opponents and is quick off the snap.  Fighting hard to make positive plays, he has a solid change direction and is effective when asked to twist or stunt.  Driven off the line by opponents Shropshire does not have a sustained burst of speed yet could be a competent backup in the NFL as a three technique lineman.  Linebacker Marcus Lawrence is an explosive defender who fires up the field in run defense yet also displays good range and gets depth on pass drops.  Working hard to get involved in the action he displays speed to the sidelines and flashes on the scene.  Not efficient, Lawrence does get caught up the field and does not always taking the best angles to the action.  Athletically he grades out very nicely yet Lawrence must merge his athletic skills into football abilities.  Free safety Jermaine Harris is a big-bodied prospect in the secondary with excellent size/speed numbers.  Harris flies around the ball and likes physical contact yet has just marginal skills in pass coverage.

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