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February 16, 2012
In Brad Lawing's perfect world, South Carolina would have recruited four defensive linemen as part of the 2012 signing class.
Instead, they signed three.
But Lawing is certainly elated with the group the Gamecocks inked - DE Darius English (6-6, 215 pounds), DT Carlos Hood (6-2, 262) and DE Jhaustin Thomas (6-5, 229).
The three signees ranked among the Top 75 prospects in the state of Georgia, meaning they're all very good players with loads of potential.
"They're all tremendous athletes and tremendous football players," Lawing told Gamecock Central recently. "When they get here, I'm going to see what they can do. If one of them, or all three, can help us then they're going to play. But we don't know that until we get them here and we start working with them."
English, rated No. 25 overall in the Peach State, was the Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year in Georgia. He is one of two signees from McEachern High in Powder Springs, Ga., with placekicker Nick St. Germain being the other.
USC will have four McEachern products on its 2012 roster. Tight end Rory Anderson and LB/Spur Marcquis Roberts signed with the Gamecocks in 2011.
English collected an astounding 21 sacks in his senior season and was named a Parade All-American.
"Go watch his highlight tape," Lawing gushed. "He can run and make plays."
Hood recorded 43 tackles, including three sacks, and three fumble recoveries for a Stephenson High team that featured USC signee Mike Davis at running back. Hood was ranked the No. 53 overall prospect in the Peach State.
"Carlos just has to get a little bit bigger, but he is a very good football players," Lawing said.
Recruiting coordinator Steve Spurrier Jr. added: "Carlos has a chance to gain 20, 30 or 40 pounds in there. He is a solid, athletic interior defensive lineman that we're excited about."
Thomas was a two-sport standout (he averaged a double-double in basketball as a junior in 2010-2011 and helped his school win the state title) at Columbia High in Decatur, Ga. He spurned offers from Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma State to sign with USC.
"Jhaustin is one of the tall, rangy defensive ends that can grow into some different positions," Spurrier Jr. said recently. "He's an athletic guy and runs very well. He fits the mold of defensive end that Coach Lawing really likes."
Lawing contended English and Thomas share one trait - while both are physically gifted, neither one is physically big enough right now to play defensive end in the SEC.
"Both of the ends have to get bigger, but they are tremendous athletes," Lawing said. "Both those guys can run and jump. They're very good football players. The thing about ends I always like is range. If you can get somebody like Eric Norwood, you take him. Eric wasn't very tall, but he was a great playmaker. You take that guy every time. When you have an end with a lot of height and range like Devin (Taylor), he can run guys down."
Lawing hoped USC would sign one defensive tackle and three defensive ends in 2012, but he settled for one DT and two DE. Last year, USC signed six defensive linemen.
"I came up short with one end, but we'll make it up this year," Lawing said. "The upside for all three guys we signed this year is tremendous."
Just because SIGNING DAY is over doesn't mean our coverage of the
big day stops. We have more analysis of USC's 2012 signing class, plus
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