Two seasons ago, defensive end Devin Taylor of the South Carolina Gamecocks established himself as a future legit pass-rusher in the SEC.
In 2010 as a redshirt sophomore, he finished the season with 46 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. He also made the second-team All-SEC and set his name in the hat of defensive players to watch out for in 2011.
The 2011 season for Taylor was clouded by the arrival of then-freshman phenom Jadeveon Clowney, but Taylor, nonetheless, performed at a high level.
His 6'8", 267-pound frame caused headaches for offensive tackles, and last season he generated 42 tackles but only six sacks because of Clowney being entrenched in the rotation.
For the average defensive end, tallying 13.5 sacks in two seasons is a feat in itself. But because of Taylor's size, speed and power, expectations are higher.
This season, he and Clowney could possibly be the most effective defensive end duo in Division I football.
While many players would digress and let the hotshot player take over, this would be the best time for Devin Taylor to rise to the top and break out and show the world he can be the dominant defensive force that many expected him to be after his redshirt sophomore campaign in 2010.
If Taylor can succeed in applying pressure on both the pass rush and run stop from his side of the ball, it will cause a double-team for him and free up Clowney in terms of offensive line assignments and vice versa.
With that said, a 10-sack, 15-tackle-for-a-loss season and higher is an ideal and accurate prediction for the stat line Taylor could achieve this season.
Again, at his size and height, and also with another freak of nature on the other side, this season should be a lot easier for Devin Taylor to wreck offensive tackles all across the SEC.
Surprisingly, the hype of the Gamecocks receiving a No. 9 ranking has overshadowed the coverage of Taylor. But on August 30 versus Vanderbilt, we shall see if Taylor can set the tone for his senior year.