The selection of my Top 5 defensive tackles includes some of Carolina's top record setters on the defensive side of the football
No. 1 on my list is Andrew Provence (1980-82). Since they started keeping the stat in l967, he was one of only three interior linemen to lead the Gamecocks in tackles for a season, and the only one who did it two years in a row.
Andrew had 161 tackles in '81 and 133 in '82, and he is one of only two players to record more than 400 tackles in his career. He is second on the all-time list for sacks (26.0) and fourth on the career list for tackles for loss in a season (35.0).
He was named to the 1982 Sporting News All-America team, was a third-team Associated Press All-American and was selected to play in the Senior Bowl after his senior year. Andrew was a third-round pick by Atlanta in the 1983 NFL draft, and he played a total of eight years for the Falcons and the Denver Broncos. Andrew was inducted into the USC Hall of Fame in 2010.
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What I remember most about Andrew is how the boy could eat. I took him to an all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurant one day, (the rules were different then), and when he went back for a second heaping plate, the owner knew he had lost money on that customer.
In my No. 2 spot is John LeHeup (1970-72). He tied for second with Dickie Harris for leading tackler (50), for the '70 season. He was named to the first-team Coaches All-American squad in '72.
The late Coach Paul Dietzel said of him, “John is the best defensive tackle I have ever coached. If I have ever seen an All-American, John LeHeup is one.”
John played one season with the Memphis Southmen of the WFL and spent four seasons in the Canadian football league with three different teams. He was inducted into the USC Hall of Fame in 2012.
What I remember most about John was that he was among the first Carolina players who really got into weight lifting. If memory serves me, he was one of the first Gamecocks to bench press over 400 pounds.
At No. 3 is Marty Dye (1988-91). The defensive MVP in the 1986 Shrine Bowl, the Greenwood native redshirted his freshman year, and was the starter from then on. He made 70 tackles that season, 87 his sophomore year, 66 as a junior and 77 as a senior.
Marty's 300 total tackles rank 11th all-time for a career, and he is ninth on the USC career list for unassisted tackles (164). He tied for first with sacks (4.0) in '91.
What I remember most about Marty is that he was never without a big smile on his face. He was one those gentle giants off the field and a terror on it.
Roy Hart (1983-84, '86-'87) takes the No. 4 place on my list. Technically a nose guard, Roy used his cat-like quickness to record a remarkable 112 total tackles in '86. He tied for first in sacks in both the '86 (4.0) and '87 (5.0) seasons and is ninth in career tackles for loss (29.0).
Roy was drafted in the sixth round of the1998 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He split the '91 season between the Los Angeles Raiders and the London Monarchs, where he was an All-World League selection. His last season was in the CFL in '94.
What I remember most about Roy was the speed and intensity with which he played the game. He was absolutely relentless in his pursuit of the ball carrier.
There were a number of good picks for the No. 5 place on my list, but I choose Rickey Hagood (1980-'83) because he is another Gamecock who played with great intensity and love for the game.
Rickey recorded 23 tackles as a freshman, including a six-tackle effort against Southern Cal in his first appearance as a middle guard. Playing behind another great one, Emanuel Weaver in '81, he recorded 59 total stops. As the starter for the '82 campaign, playing alongside Provence, he was second on the squad with 98 total tackles (61 solo).
Rickey is third all-time in tackles for loss (16.0) for a season, and he holds the eighth spot on the USC tackles for loss (30.0) career list.
The Easley, native was drafted by Seattle in the fourth round of the 1984 NFL Draft.
What I remember most about Rickey was that he was one of the quickest linemen for his size (6-2, 295), who ever put on a Gamecock uniform. He, too, was a soft-spoken player off the field and a fierce competitor on it.