2014 College Football Recruits Who Will Dominate SEC Trenches
The SEC is the premier conference in college football and prides itself on physical play. The key to winning the SEC is controlling the line of scrimmage with great offensive and defensive lines. SEC coaches acquire the proper personnel to build great trench units via the recruiting trail.
Some programs in different conferences prefer their linemen to be smaller, quicker and more agile. However, SEC programs love their trench prospects to possess excellent size, strength and power. Several recruits have a great chance to be dominant in the trenches at the next level, but only a select few appear to be capable of dominating the trenches in the SEC.
A big offensive tackle in Louisiana not only has the size, but also displays the quickness to rule the league. A defensive end in Illinois may not be from SEC country, but he displays the skills needed to hold his own. Ole Miss has a commitment from a blocker who could be the next great right tackle from the SEC, and an explosive defensive end from Georgia has the skills to be a defensive player of the year.
Joshua Casher, OL
Casher, who is committed to Auburn, will come to the Plains with the goal of leaving as a dominant blocker. He currently plays tackle, but he projects to be moved inside to guard or center.
Casher, who is 6'1" and 297 pounds, is a tough offensive line prospect with quick feet and good upper-body strength. As a pass-protector, Casher displays the ability to recover and cut off inside moves with quick body positioning. He can set up in a hurry.
Casher has good power and plays big at the point of attack. His skill set will make him a great guard for Gus Malzahn and he also has the potential to be an All-SEC pivot player.
Dewayne Hendrix, DE
Hendrix, who could end up at Tennessee, is one of the top strong-side ends in the country. If he fails to be an effective end in the SEC, he does possess the capability to slide inside to defensive tackle.
Hendrix, who is 6'5" and 255 pounds, has solid snap quickness and can set the edge with strength. He is a power player who can stack blocks against tight ends and tackles, anchor down, shed and make stops. Hendrix has solid athleticism and is adequate at chasing down plays from the back side.
As a pass-rusher, Hendrix flashes the ability to convert speed to power and can walk blockers back into the passer. He may not lead the SEC in sacks (if he chooses to play in the conference), but Hendrix will give SEC blockers problems.
Donell Stanley, OG
Although Stanley doesn't play with natural knee-bend, he is a great interior offensive line prospect. He is expected to sign with South Carolina and is one of the top trench players in the South.
Stanley, who is 6'4" and 327 pounds, has impressive snap quickness and shows easy movement skills for a big man. He has no issues pulling, trapping or getting to the second level and shows the athleticism to settle down in space. Stanley can hit moving targets and plays big at the point of attack.
The South Carolina native is a solid pass-protector who can mirror rushers in space and can recover well to reposition himself to not give up a sack or hurry. Stanley could be a tremendous multi-year starter in the SEC.
Andy Bauer, OT
Ole Miss, which signed offensive linemen Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson last year, has another outstanding offensive line commitment in Bauer. He projects best as a dominating right tackle in Oxford.
Bauer, who is 6'6" and 304 pounds, is a classic short-setting offensive tackle. At the snap, instead of kicking and sliding back deep, Bauer loves to quickly punch a rusher and stand his ground close to the line of scrimmage.
Bauer will use his mitts to his advantage and flashes an explosive punch. As a run-blocker, he fires out of his stance, plays like a giant at the point of attack and can be a powerful mauler. Bauer also flashes pulling and trapping skills, but he's at his best when he can identify his target before the snap and simply overpower him.
Roderick Taylor, OL
A recruit needs to relish contact and be tough if he wants to start in the middle of the trenches for an SEC team. Taylor, who has an array of SEC offers, perfectly fits that mold.
He has the versatility to play tackle, but this player has the mentality of a guard. Taylor, who is 6'4" and 305 pounds, has solid athleticism and is a strong blocker. He has good snap quickness, can deliver a blow with his punch and is one of the most physical trench prospects in the country.
Taylor can hold his own against a pass-blocker, as he shows the ability to mirror in short areas and does not panic versus bull rush moves.
Whoever lands him could be getting a player who starts many games at tackle and guard.
Braden Smith, OL
Smith, who has an impressive frame at 6'6" and 290 pounds, is the top offensive line prospect in Texas. He has great toughness and can play across the offensive front.
Smith is dominant as a run-blocker. He comes off the ball quickly, blasts into his targets and powerfully moves them in the direction he wants them to go. Smith is a fighter who plays with an un-coachable toughness and physicality that is suited for the SEC.
Olathe South does not toss the rock much, but on passing plays Smith flashes a good punch, solid set quickness and anchor strength.
Gerald Willis III, DL
Willis, a defensive end, will eventually grow into a defensive tackle in college. He has the potential to be a menacing, gap-penetrating 3-technique in the SEC.
At 6'2" and 246 pounds, Willis has a thick frame that shows a ton of growth potential. He is tough in the trenches and plays with great pride. Willis has a quick first step, is strong at the point of attack and does not back down from bigger blockers.
He can shoot his hands, extend his arms and press blocks off of himself, clean himself up and use short-area quickness to burst and finish on the ball. Bigger defensive linemen are in this class, but Willis has as much quickness and toughness as anyone.
Lamont Gaillard, DL
Gaillard, who reminds observers of 2013 Auburn signee Montravius Adams, is a rare defensive line prospect who can play tackle in a 4-3 defense as well as fit in cleanly as a 3-4 end. Georgia is expected to land him, per 247Sports.
Gaillard is 6'3" and 310 pounds. He can be explosive at the snap and punishing to offensive linemen. He has the quickness to shoot gaps, but he also possesses the power to take on double-teams, anchor down and make a mess in the middle on run plays.
Gaillard can push the pocket as a rusher, flashes solid hand usage and hustles in pursuit. With the right defensive line coach, he could be special.
Lorenzo Carter, DE
Carter could play outside linebacker in a college 3-4 scheme. He's a gifted athlete. He makes tackles that are hard to describe for skilled evaluators.
Carter, who is 6'5" and 232 pounds, has the potential to be a poor man's Julius Peppers. He has long arms which allow him to stay clean from blockers. He can convert speed to power as a rusher and runs like a deer to chase down the ball from the backside.
Carter's initial play strength will improve with the help of a college weight room. He could be preparing to be a collegiate athlete for only three seasons.
Alabama is predicted to sign him.
Elisha Shaw, DL
Shaw, who could end up at Ole Miss, is a future nightmare for SEC offensive linemen. He is a terrific defensive line prospect who can play tackle in a 4-3 scheme and end or nose tackle in a 3-4 defense.
Shaw (6'5" and 295 pounds) has outstanding snap quickness and can jump on top of a blocker. He has gap-penetration skills but can also walk a blocker back on any given play.
Shaw's play strength is remarkable, which allows him to dominate his opponents in Georgia. He has no issues when it comes to pressing blocks off himself. He cleans himself up like a cat and has great short-area quickness to arrive at the ball in a flash.
Although he needs to develop a better pass-rushing plan, Shaw without question has what it takes to dominate SEC trenches.
Cameron Robinson, OT
Robinson, who will end up at either Alabama or LSU, is an outstanding left tackle prospect. He is a superior prospect to Ole Miss signee Laremy Tunsil and has NFL potential.
Robinson is 6'6" and 318 pounds. He plays with natural knee-bend, quick feet, agility and quickness. He shadows rushers as a pass-blocker, can set up deep in a hurry and does not panic in space. Robinson is a dancing bear who can deal with speed or bull-rushers and can pick up stunts well.
As he cleans up his footwork in college, Robinson will only improve his game. He's a strong blocker who can scoop, reach, seal and down-block in the running game. Robinson has no issues with getting to linebackers on the second level and could be the next Cyrus Kouandjio at Alabama, unless he signs with LSU.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.