The Bamberg native became a fixture on the Gamecocks offensive line as a redshirt freshman last season, starting all 13 games at left guard. Cann was named to the SEC All-Freshman team in 2011, and the expectations will increase this year. He and center T.J. Johnson should form a powerful interior push that will pave the way for star runner Marcus Lattimore and quarterback Connor Shaw.
His father, Buddy, played at South Carolina in the '80s, and Kelcy showed a ton of potential during a solid freshman year. Quarles played in 12 games and started the last six contests, totaling 28 tackles on the season. He could become a force in the middle of the Gamecocks line as a sophomore, as South Carolina looks to continue giving opposing quarterbacks headaches.
The Greenwood native is the team’s leading returning tackler. He compiled 80 stops last year to go with three interceptions and a forced fumble. Swearinger starred in the Mississippi State win with 12 tackles and a pick. He is one of many veterans on the Gamecocks defense, as he has played in all 40 South Carolina games over the past three seasons.
The fifth-year senior made 52 tackles with a sack and a fumble recovery last season after missing virtually all of the 2010 campaign with a severe hamstring injury. Wilson put up his best numbers in the biggest games, and he will be a key component if South Carolina is going to repeat its lofty performance from last year when the Gamecocks ranked third in the country in total defense.
The senior looks to be moving to the hybrid “Spur” position this season after playing most of his career at safety. Holloman did play the Spur to open last season but was moved back to strong safety after the Georgia game. He totaled 51 tackles in 2011, with four of those behind the line of scrimmage. Holloman is very experienced and will be a leader on this year’s defense.
Shaw took over as the starter in the middle of last season and showed major potential as the Gamecocks signal caller. In nine starts, he threw for 1,448 yards and 14 touchdowns while also running for 525 yards and eight scores. South Carolina won eight of those nine starts, and Shaw ended the season superbly with great performances in wins over Clemson and Nebraska. He should be a major weapon as a junior this season.
He has been a rock on the middle of the line, as the Aynor product has started all 40 games that he has played for the Gamecocks. Even with the loss of top back Lattimore after seven games last season, South Carolina still had the 25th rushing offense in the country in 2011. Johnson has done a great job of dealing with multiple quarterbacks and runners, and he will be the leader up front once again in 2012.
The Beaufort native’s numbers were not quite as good last year as in 2010, but he still had 42 tackles and six sacks to go with an interception and two fumble recoveries. Taylor had 13 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks as a sophomore, so the potential is there for a huge 2012 season. He and Jadeveon Clowney will form one of the top pass rush duos in the country.
The sky is the limit for Clowney, who will already be a top All-America candidate as a sophomore. He was named SEC Freshman of the Year by the league's coaches in 2011 after compiling 36 tackles, with 12 of those behind the line of scrimmage. Clowney also had eight sacks and five forced fumbles, and he should wreak havoc in SEC backfields this season.
The Duncan native was an instant superstar as a freshman, rushing for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2010. Lattimore was on his way to another stellar campaign last year when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Mississippi State game. In seven games Lattimore totaled 818 yards and 10 scores, and he will be a Heisman Trophy candidate with a healthy return in 2012.
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