South Carolina Football

South Carolina Football 2011: The Gamecocks Offensive Line Steps Up

Alex RobertsCorrespondent IMay 25, 2011

South Carolina Football 2011: The Gamecocks Offensive Line Steps Up

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    COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 11: Tailback Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks runs with the ball while guard Rokevious Watkins #73 looks on during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Columb
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Some may say that the most important position in the entire game of football is the quarterback position.  While I happen to agree, I do think that a certain unit is a close second...the offensive line.

    Without the line, nothing works on offense.  I don't care if you have a great back, quarterback and wide receiver (like SC does), if you don't get protection, you don't get yards.

    Over the years, the line has been a major burden.  However, barring injury, this year's offensive line will be leaps and bounds ahead of those in previous years. 

    The talent, toughness and coaching (thank you, coach Shawn Elliot) is in place...now it is just time to produce. 

    For more information on South Carolina's roster, please visit:

    2011 South Carolina Post Spring Depth Chart

    2011 Quarterback Evaluation

    2011 Running Back Evaluation

    2011 Wide Receiver Evaluation

Kyle Nunn, Left Tackle

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    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 296 lbs.

    Year: Redshirt senior

    Pros: Size, run blocking, leadership, experience

    Cons: Quickness, pass protection

     

    A very solid left tackle who may get pushed out of the starting lineup by freshman phenom Brandon Shell.  While he has started 16 games and made appearances in three seasons, he hasn't developed into the tackle many envisioned he could be coming in.

    Either way, he is a good lineman who will either be starting or giving the team serious depth. 

A.J. Cann, Left Guard

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    Height: 6'3"

    Weight:  305 lbs.

    Year: Redshirt freshman

    Pros: Size, strength, athleticism, versatility, pass protection

    Cons: Experience, was actually a center in high school

     

    An exciting prospect from last year's highly rated recruiting class, A.J. Cann immediately came into the program with the goal of improving his strength and conditioning.  One of the stars of the spring, Cann came out with a starting spot, and he will probably hold it for the next four years.

    He has the potential to be an all-SEC player very soon.

T.J. Johnson, Center

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    Photo by John Dawkins/Special to The State
    Photo by John Dawkins/Special to The State

    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 314 lbs.

    Year: Redshirt Junior

    Pros: Strength, Size, mean streak, leadership, ability to read defensive positioning and call blocking assignments

    Cons: Could improve footwork, but it is a minor issue

     

    A highly decorated offensive lineman, Johnson has already been named a first-team All-SEC selection by Rivals.com. 

    He was an All-SEC freshman in 2009.  This year, he has been added to the 42 finalists for the Rimington Trophy.  With Johnson, South Carolina has a mean, tough-nosed and strong center that perfectly fits the running and smashmouth mentality that South Carolina has. 

    Look for him to finish the next two seasons as an All-SEC performer.

Terrence Campbell, Right Guard

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    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 295 lbs.

    Year: Redshirt senior

    Pros: Experience, quickness, effort

    Cons: Injury prone, strength, smallish size

     

    Terrence Campbell is a defensive lineman-turned-guard.  He has played well, and has been on the field since 2007, although an injury shortened that year. 

    He is quick, and has some strength, but even though he is listed at 6'3", 295 lbs., he has a smaller frame, and can be overrun by bigger tackles at times.  He is a high-effort player, and will definitely be a mainstay on the line's rotation.

Rokevious Watkins, Right Tackle

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    Height: 6'4"

    Weight: 319 lbs.

    Year: Redshirt senior

    Pros: Huge size, strength, athleticism for someone his size, intimidation, mean streak

    Cons: Technique, conditioning

     

    Rokevious Watkins is a mountain of a man, and has played very well as a guard.  He is moving over to right tackle where his strength will help him against the defensive ends of most teams.  He will have to continue to work on his technique, especially footwork, if he is to attack some of these quicker ends.

    He could end up as an All-SEC lineman as well.

Kenny Davis, Left Guard

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    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 310 lbs.

    Year: Redshirt junior

    Pros: Strength, quickness, size

    Cons: Just moved to guard, may play both ways

     

    Coming out of the spring as a guard, the coaches were impressed enough with Davis to put him as a backup guard.  He had a solid seven-game stretch in 2010 as a defensive tackle.  Little is really known about his potential at guard, besides a solid spring. 

    Will need to learn a new position quickly to play at a high level.

Travis Ford, Center

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    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 265 lbs.

    Year: Redshirt sophomore

    Pros: Intelligence and technique

    Cons: Size, transferred from Coastal Carolina and has no game tape, stats or awards

     

    A bit of a mystery, Travis' skill set is best known to the coaches that work with him every day.  From the limited times I have seen Ford, he looks average, but there isn't enough for me to go on to fully analyzing him without making incorrect assumptions. 

    He is very small at 265 pounds; he better hope he has perfect technique.

Kaleb Broome, Right Guard

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    Height: 6'5"

    Weight: 319 lbs.

    Year: Junior

    Pros: Excellent pass blocker, good size, only allowed one sack at GA Military College in 2010

    Cons: Experience in the SEC

     

    A highly talented prospect who definitely adds strength and size to an already large line, Kaleb is coming off of a season where he was named a National Junior College Athletic Association All-American after only allowing one sack, which is impressive at any level. 

    With solid coaching, he could be a very good lineman for South Carolina, with a large amount of upside.

Cody Gibson, Right Tackle

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    Photo by Scout.com
    Photo by Scout.com

    Height: 6'6"

    Weight: 282 lbs.

    Year: Redshirt freshman

    Pros: Hard worker

    Cons: Experience

     

    Another relatively unknown quantity, Gibson came to the team in 2010, but injured himself right away.  During high school, he won a great deal of awards including the honor of being the first offensive lineman ever to be nominated for the "Big Bend Offensive Player of the Year," which is an award that goes to the best player in nine of Florida's biggest counties. 

    He apparently has the pedigree and the work ethic...coaches say he spends a great deal of time in the weight room getting bigger and stronger.  He will be a solid member of the offensive line rotation.

Ronald Patrick, Left Guard

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    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 295 lbs.

    Year: Sophomore

    Pros: Confident, strong, good run blocker

    Cons: Lacks pass-blocking skills, more of a bruising blocker, not a great deal of speed

     

    A strong, mauling guard who struggles a bit with pass blocking.  During high school, he played in a Wing-T offense.  The adjustment to a more pro-style offensive scheme could have been a little high for him.  He was a backup last year, and looks to have more action this season. 

Brandon Shell, Left Tackle

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    Photo by Grace Beahm/postandcourier.com
    Photo by Grace Beahm/postandcourier.com

    Height: 6'7"

    Weight: 319 lbs.

    Year: Incoming freshman

    Pros: Strength, speed, athleticism, pedigree, leadership potential, intelligence

    Cons: Experience in pass blocking

     

    This man will be a superstar at some point.  It may even be this year, as this 5-star prospect from Scout.com did not come to SC to sit on the bench.  

    He is the nephew of the Oakland Raiders' Art Shell, and wants to help bring more low-country players to South Carolina.  He has already been vocally supportive of the Gamecocks direction.  They may redshirt him to let him "bulk up" (is that possible?), but I would seriously be surprised if he didn't come in and compete for the starting left tackle spot as a true freshman. 

Overall Grade: B-

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    There is a lot of potential in this line, and they've taken a large jump from the D+ I rated them last year. 

    Brandon Shell should bring life to this group, and there are other linemen waiting in the wings.  The weakness may soon become a strength. There are three solid All-SEC-type players on this team. 

    Depth may be an issue, but if the conditioning coaches keep working with this group, and they stay relatively injury free, look for Marcus Lattimore and company to have huge years.

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