Every day here at Your Best 11, we are counting down to the start of the regular season with our top 150 players for the 2012 season.
No. 91: Devin Taylor, No. 98, South Carolina, Defensive End
After going to South Carolina as an unheralded, skinny, long 3-star recruit from Beaufort, South Carolina, Taylor made his presence felt early and often for the Gamecocks. In 2009, the lanky defensive end was a freshman All-SEC performer, and he would carry that into 2010, where he made the first team All-SEC roster.
Taylor is a long, athletic ballplayer who gets to the quarterback, pursues relentlessly and truly is a great complement to Jadeveon Clowney. He is a solid player against the run and the pass. He also has long arms and can separate from offensive tackles.
The rising senior is a versatile player as well. Taylor can play with his hands on the ground, he can stand up and he is extremely comfortable dropping into pass coverage.
Last season, Taylor took a "step back" in terms of going from a first-team All-SEC player in 2010 to an honorable mention All-SEC guy. That was not due to a drop-off in play, but rather to the true emergence of Melvin Ingram and the improving commodity that is Jadeveon Clowney.
Without Ingram, the room for opportunity is there, but Taylor will have to deal with a "new" defensive coordinator running the show.
Taylor is set to push his way back onto the All-SEC team in proper fashion. Clowney on the opposite end will help keep Taylor from seeing double teams, and that should translate into good numbers for the senior.
There will be an uptick in Taylor's statistics, and that bodes well for his shot at the All-SEC team. Expect the senior to put up double digits in tackles for loss and to push close to the double digits in sack numbers.
With the continuity brought on by Lorenzo Ward and the solid players around him, the Gamecock senior should be set for success.