Third and short: Surratt, Sutton, Swearinger
With preseason football practice starting on Aug. 3, GamecockCentral.com presents a new series that takes a look at three players per day who have either played in at least one game or appear on the post-spring two-deep depth chart.
J.T. SURRATT, redshirt freshman defensive tackle
Before South Carolina: J.T. Surratt was rated by Rivals.com as a two-star prospect out of Parkland (N.C.) High School. He was also offered by East Carolina, Marshall and Western Carolina.
The measurables: 6-foot-1, 308 pounds
2010: Redshirted after injuring his right shoulder during preseason camp.
The coaching staff thinks Surratt will be a player, but it may not be soon. Such is the cost of playing at a talent-stocked position. Coming out of the spring, after a year where he was shelved with an injury, Surratt was listed as a third-team defensive tackle - behind All-SEC candidate Travian Robertson and specialty run-stopper Byron Jerideau. He could eventually become a good player, perhaps great, but needs to drop a few pounds and really just get game experience. That may not happen this year, but he does have three years of eligibility remaining.
CHAZ SUTTON, redshirt sophomore defensive end
Before South Carolina: Chaz Sutton was rated by Rivals.com as a four-star prospect out of Jenkins (Ga.) High School. He was also offered by California, Indiana, Louisville, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
The measurables: 6-foot-4, 245 pounds
2008: Spent the fall at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy and was ranked the No. 10 prep-school product in the country before re-pledging to USC.
2009: Sutton pulled his left hamstring after four games and earned a medical redshirt. He did not record any statistics.
2010: Playing behind Cliff Matthews and Devin Taylor, Sutton did get in seven games and had five tackles, one for loss. His biggest moment was when he stepped in front of a pass against Troy and returned it for a touchdown, but other than that, three of his five tackles came in the season-opener.
He's listed as the backup to Melvin Ingram on the other side of Taylor on the most current depth chart, but many believe that won't be the case throughout the season. As in, Ingram will probably move back to a specialized pass-rusher who plays behind the line, and Jadeveon Clowney will take his place on the line. Like Surratt, Sutton simply has to try and make an impact so he can get on the field, but behind Ingram, Taylor and probably Clowney, it may not happen this year. The coaches like him, and noted his improvement throughout last season, but he did have a major problem with injuries and that again knocked him back.
D.J. SWEARINGER, junior safety
Before South Carolina: D.J. Swearinger was rated by Rivals.com as a three-star prospect out of Greenwood High School. He was also offered by Auburn, Duke, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, NC State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
The measurables: 5-foot-11, 206 pounds
2009: Had 19 tackles in 13 games as he managed to break onto the two-deep despite being a true freshman.
2010: Swearinger started eight of 14 games and ranked fourth on the team with 66 tackles, breaking up five passes and returning four kicks for an average of 21.8 yards. His first start, against then-No. 1 Alabama, was a major boost - he had nine tackles and became known as the Hitman of the defense. Swearinger also had a pick-six against Troy and followed it by earning Joe Morrison Defensive Player of the Spring honors.
One of the most versatile players and best athletes on the team, Swearinger will play a major role this year, but the question is where. He's listed as the starting strong safety as the secondary has shuffled pieces, but he may return to any of a number of spots as the season progresses. Swearinger has the ability to jar a ball loose, can cover well, has great hands and speed. All he has to do is be the "quarterback" of the secondary. That will be difficult to do with Stephon Gilmore on the field as well, but the coaches believe Swearinger can do it. He's regarded as a top player, and has good numbers; this year, they could become great numbers.
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