Some questioned South Carolina’s coaching staff when it gambled on a raw, lanky defensive end in the Class of 2008.
It’s fair to say that Beaufort’s Devin Taylor, who stood 6-foot-6, 220 pounds during his senior year, has exceeded the expectations. He wasn’t ranked at his position and was listed as just 21st overall prospect in the Palmetto State that year by Rivals. Scout listed him as a two-star prospect and the nation’s 92nd-best defensive end.
After redshirting to add strength and bulk in 2008, Taylor was a freshman All-American in 2009 and earned first-team All-SEC honors from the Associated Press in 2010.
Hoping to recreate that blueprint, the Gamecocks have added a prospect in the Class of 2012 that has similar attributes. McEachern (Ga.) defensive end Darius English, who committed to USC earlier this week, is also a speed rusher with room to grow.
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The 6-foot-6, 215 pounder, who has 4.65 speed, chose the Gamecocks over a litany of scholarship offers, including Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Michigan State, East Carolina and Mississippi State. He will join former McEachern teammates Rory Anderson and Marcquis Roberts, both Class of 2011 USC signees, in Columbia.
Though he’s a little bit of a risk – it’s hard to know for sure that a player will retain his athleticism after gaining significant weight – English has plenty of upside. In fact, his ceiling may be higher than many more respected prospects.
English, who had 17 sacks last season, joined GoGamecocks.com for a Q&A:
Question: Why did you pick South Carolina?
Answer: South Carolina was my favorite. They were the first ones to offer me. And I have two teammates who are already there.
Q: How big of a role did Rory and Marcquis play in your decision?
A: It was a big impact, having somebody there that I already know.
Q: What makes you special as a player?
A: The fact that I’m tall and very fast and I’m a great pass rusher. I’ll be a defensive end at South Carolina, [most likely] on the weakside. I only play weakside defensive end for McEachern.
Q: You were the fifth commitment in USC’s class from the Atlanta area. What is so appealing to Georgians about the Gamecocks?
A: I’m not sure. I guess they just do a great job of recruiting in Atlanta. I liked the win over Georgia, and they are a pretty dominant team in the SEC.
Q: What do you need to do before you get to USC?
A: I need to get stronger and bigger. I need to get up to 240 [pounds].
Q: What did USC’s coaches really like about your game?
A: They liked my height. They say I really remind them of Devin Taylor.
Q: What are you expectations for your senior season?
A: I want to win state and make 20 sacks. I’m glad to have [my commitment] over with. Now I can focus on my senior year.