The search to replace Kelcy Quarles in the middle of South Carolina’s defensive line begins in spring practice. A top candidate to fill that void moves in on campus this weekend.
Abu Lamin is coming to USC via Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College. After a two-week break in his hometown of Fayetteville, N.C., Lamin brings a goal to have an early impact with the Gamecocks.
“I expect to play right away,” he said. “If not play right away, I expect to have an immediate role. That’s my goal, initially, to be that starting defensive tackle against Texas A&M” in South Carolina’s 2014 season-opener Aug. 28.
Lamin signed with USC on Dec. 18 and is the Gamecocks’ lone early enrollee this year. He is one of two defensive tackles in the 2014 class, a number that could grow by another player or two between now and signing day.
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He joins a team in need of defensive linemen. Quarles, Jadeveon Clowney and Chaz Sutton are headed to the NFL.
Lamin will compete with at least three others to play alongside J.T. Surratt, who started all 13 games this season at the other defensive tackle spot and will be a senior.
Lamin is looking forward to spring workouts and the first day in pads, he said.
“I know nothing will be given to me,” he said. “I’m going to have to work hard for it and go get it. I want to get adjusted to the speed first. Strength-wise and physicality-wise, it’s going to be a lot tougher in the trenches.”
Lamin had 34 tackles at Fort Scott in 2013, with 7.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks for the 2-7 Greyhounds.
He is considered a four-star prospect, the No. 18 junior college prospect in the country and the No. 6 JUCO defensive tackle, according to 247Sports. He will have three years. He selected USC over offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, Florida and Tennessee, among others.
With the exception of his hairstyle — he has dreadlocks — Lamin (6-foot-5, 310 pounds) bears a physical resemblance to Quarles (6-4, 298 pounds).
“We fully expect him to be ready to play,” defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. “He’s big, physical and athletic. We need the depth. Hopefully, he’ll step in and compete to be a starter .”
Lamin has a former teammate on the USC roster in linebacker Kyle Morini, whom he played with at Gray Military Academy in Cayce.
He redshirted his first year at Fort Scott. The weightlifting, early morning workouts and competition in Kansas prepared him mentally and physically for what he’ll face at USC, he said.
“I’m going to go in there, compete and start, or go in there and have a role,” Lamin said. “However it goes, I’m just excited to be able to be a Gamecock.”
CHANGES AT DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Kelcy Quarles started 11 of 12 games in which he played in the 2013 season, finishing with 39 tackles (13.5 for loss) and a team-high 9.5 sacks. Here are the returning defensive tackles and their 2013 totals.
|J.T. Surratt||13 games/13 starts||33 tackles (4 for loss), 1.5 sacks|
|Gerald Dixon Jr.||12 games/1 start||18 tackles (2.5 for loss), 0.5 sacks|
|Phillip Dukes||13 games/1 start||14 tackles (1.5 for loss)|
|Kelsey Griffin||9 games/0 starts||12 tackles (0.5 for loss), 0.5 sacks|