Flashback to February 2011. Jadeveon Clowney signed with South Carolina, and everyone immediately penciled him in as the starting end opposite Devin Taylor.
Meanwhile, Melvin Ingram was a good player, but he was nothing more than a rotational guy. He would be an amazing backup to the terrific combo of Taylor and Clowney. However, Ingram proved one thing for the remainder of his career: He ain't no one's backup. He came out of nowhere and became a potential and probable top-10 NFL draft pick.
This year, I have a defensive player in mind who could do the same. Enter Byron Jerideau, a massive and athletic defensive tackle.
When you look at a 6'0", 310-pound man, you don't think about athleticism. You think about power, which Jerideau certainly has plenty of. He is the all-time record holder in pound-per-pound strength. He also ran a 40 somewhere in the range of 4.9-5.0. While not blazing fast, that's an incredible speed for a man of his size. He's quick off the block, is capable of using his hands like a defensive end and is capable of disrupting a play.
He's spent his entire career as a rotational player. However, he's shined in this year's spring practices and has an opportunity to earn a starting position with the departure of Travian Robertson.
He may not be able to make the splash that Melvin Ingram did last year, but he could make a huge impact. He could be South Carolina's long lost run-stuffing nose tackle. He's also got the speed and strength to grab his fair share of sacks as well.
If he can improve his conditioning and maintain focus, he could have a massive impact on the defensive line in 2012. I have a feeling that it's coming.
Is this the year of the Jerideau? It very well could be.