SDS Top 25 Players For 2012: Devin Taylor


Icon SMI - Devin Taylor

SDS is continually counting down the top 25 players in the SEC for 2012, and we’re not stopping until we get to No. 1.

Devin Taylor – No. 15

January 9th of this year was a great day indeed for Carolina fans because redshirt defensive end Devin Taylor announced he was returning for his senior season. Taylor will be the bookend opposite Jadeveon Clowney.

There was much hype heading into last year about Taylor after he came off of a monster sophomore season. So, emotions were high, as were expectations.

Taylor obviously didn’t have the junior year he was hoping; so, that’s probably the main reason he’s returning for his senior season.

The 6’7”, 260lb defensive end finished with 42 total tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and six sacks on the year in 2011. He will try to redeem those numbers this coming season, and I happen to think he will.

Taylor has massive raw athletic ability. The NFL in particular loves tremendous upside, potential and quickness. He possesses all of these. Taylor also has the ability to play linebacker at the next level as well. I hope we get to see some of that this season.

His athletic ability really helps him create a tremendous amount of pressure on the quarterback and make plays all over the field coming off the edge.

However, even though Taylor has a ton of athletic ability, he still needs to hone his craft during his senior season. In particular, he needs to improve his strength overall, but with another year under his belt in the weight room, that should be taken care of.

I think Taylor will have a big-time senior season at defensive end, and he will help fill that void left by Melvin Ingram. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have the biggest freak in the SEC on the other side of the line in Jadeveon Clowney helping to take double teams the other direction.

Those two will be quite the pair this coming season.


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  • It certainly helps to have two gifted defensive ends, especially when they may be considered the best pair in the conference. The Gamecocks had the third best defense in the nation last season. And this year they will have Marcus Lattimore returning. It will be interesting to see how he and Davis (Ark.) both come back from their injuries this season. I also expect Kenny Miles to surprise some of those who have forgotten about him as well. He should be an excellent and dependable backup for Carolina.

    If South Carolina can put together a good offensive line, and Connor Shaw continues to improve, they should have a great season.

    They have a tough road schedule, traveling to Baton Rough, Florida, Gainesville and Clemson (though the latter shouldn’t be a problem). They have tough games at home as well, with Georgia, Missouri, and Arkansas, You should trust that Gamecock fans know not to overlook Tennessee, Kentucky, or Vanderbilt, either.

    But, I think that South Carolina might do something very special this year.

    Carolina has been known coming up short, to put it favorably. But then again, the Gamecocks haven’t exactly been themselves lately.

    Have they ever had this much success over such a range of sports, or such quality student-athletes? South Carolina’s facilities, specifically for football and baseball, are as impressive as any other school in the SEC. The basketball program is in a dismal condition, but hiring Coach Frank Martin may just be what was needed. Their WBB team just made it to the Elite Eight, and isn’t, their baseball team is one of the most sought after programs by young players across the nation?

    Considering all of this, it wouldn’t be so surprising to see something significant happen for them in football.

    Carolina returns most, if not close to all, of the relevant offense and defense, with the exceptions of Gilmore, Jeffrey, and Ingram.

    But fans shouldn’t worry. After all, they have the likes of Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney, leading the defense, who are nicely complimented by Marcus Lattimore, Bruce Ellington, and Connor Shaw anchoring the offense.

    Sure. It’s not likely, but Carolina fans have nothing to lose. South Carolina tore down the goalposts in Columbia after beating New Mexico State, yet they are the same school that shocked a 19-0, #1 Alabama team, 35-21.

    That’s why if you ever ask a Carolina fan about the line he will tell you, Never, ever, bet on the Cocks.

    But this year, might a year to put some money down, If you like long shots.