COLUMBIA, S.C. — The "Help Wanted" sign is out at South Carolina, where the Gamecocks will have to replace arguably the best defensive end in school history, as well as two other starters on a four-man defensive front that is arguably the best in school history.
Heralded defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, projected to be the No. 1 choice in next year's NFL draft, will play his last game for South Carolina in the Jan. 1 Capitol One Bowl against Wisconsin, as will defensive end Chaz Sutton and first-team All-SEC and Sporting News All-American tackle Kelcy Quarles.
That puts signing defensive linemen as one of the top priorities in the upcoming recruiting class, and it appears the Gamecock coaching staff has put in the work to do just that.
Among South Carolina's current commitments are a pair of junior college defensive linemen the Gamecocks hope can provide immediate help.
Abu Lamin is a 6'3", 300-pound defensive tackle from Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kan., who has committed to the Gamecocks, as has Jhaustin Thomas, a 6'6" 255-pound defensive end from Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas.
The Gamecocks also have a commitment from Taylor Stallworth, a 6'2", 285-pound defensive tackle out of Murphy High School in Mobile, Ala.
That's a good start, but far from complete as the Gamecocks try to shore up an area that has been a team strength for at least the last four seasons.
South Carolina could hear as early as Dec. 17 on a decision from Dante Sawyer, a 6'3", 240-pound defensive end out of North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga. Sawyer is also considering Missouri and Tennessee.
Another potentially huge signee for the Gamecocks looms in Dexter Wideman, a 6'4", 255-pound defensive end out of Saluda (S.C.) High School, with 247Sports claiming he will sign with either Florida State or the Gamecocks.
As for returning talent, the cupboard isn't necessarily bare.
J.T. Surratt is a returning starter at defensive tackle.
Brothers Gerald Dixon Jr. and Gerald Dixon got considerable playing time at tackle and end, respectively.
Tackle Phillip Dukes also played valuable minutes, as did Darius English, who filled in at end when Clowney was out of the lineup.
South Carolina redshirted several other players this season who will be given a chance over the spring and fall to make their presence felt.
Rest assured, South Carolina will field a defensive line in 2015.
It's just the Gamecocks may be going from a line comprised of "who's who" players to a line made up of "who's that?"
Verbal commitments reported by 247Sports.