2015 College Football Recruits Who Will Dominate SEC Trenches
The key to having success in the SEC is in the trenches. Having players who can control the line of scrimmage on offense and defense is imperative in the physical conference.
The way for a program to stock talent in its trenches is through recruiting. Looking at the classes of all 14 teams in the league, several of them have commitments from recruits who could prove to be dominant.
Texas A&M has a commitment from a 5-star defensive tackle with outstanding power. Alabama boasts a pledge from a talented guard, while the same can be said about rival Auburn.
Richie Petitbon, OG
From Washington, D.C., Richie Petitbon is a talented 4-star offensive lineman who can play guard and center. At 6'4" and 301 pounds, Petitbon has solid technique and strength.
He punches hard to get good extension at the point of attack, plus he has adequate short-area quickness. Alabama is a team known for its outstanding offensive line play, and Petitbon figures to be another blocker who stands out in Tuscaloosa.
Shameik Blackshear, DE
School: South Carolina
Shameik Blackshear is a 4-star defensive end who will not dominate the trenches of the SEC with a ton of strength or power. What he will do, however, is dominate with speed and quickness.
At 6'5" and 240 pounds, the South Carolina native has a quick get-off at the snap. He can jump on top of tackles when crashing off the edges, plus he shows off terrific athleticism by redirecting with ease in pursuit. Blackshear should become the No. 1 pass-rushing threat for South Carolina in a few seasons.
Jack Jones, OT
It wouldn't be surprising to see Jack Jones kick inside to guard at Tennessee. He may not be an offensive lineman who grades out extremely high in one category, but he's a well-rounded blocker with toughness.
Jones, who is 6'4.5" and 280 pounds, is light on his feet inside the trenches. He dances well with pass-rushers in short areas, plus the 4-star recruit works hard to drive his feet upon contact in the running game. The future Volunteer should become a staple offensive lineman for head coach Butch Jones.
Hjalte Froholdt, DL
Originally from Denmark, Hjalte Froholdt is a 4-star defensive lineman who is a player to watch from this class. At 6'4" and 282 pounds, Froholdt has a big-time motor to go with strength and athleticism.
He plays hard snap after snap, choosing to outwork opposing offensive linemen. He'll likely line up at defensive tackle at Arkansas, where he could develop into a star in the SEC.
Connor Lanfear, OT
School: Texas A&M
Texas A&M doesn't run an offense that requires its offensive linemen to beat people up for four quarters. In that, the word "dominant" doesn't seem to be associated much with the Aggies' recent offensive line recruits.
However, among Texas A&M's several 2015 offensive linemen commitments, 4-star blocker Connor Lanfear could prove to be a standout. Lanfear is nearly 6'6" and 300 pounds, and he has great grab-strength. The Texan has the makings of a right tackle whom the Aggies run behind in short-yardage situations.
School: South Carolina
Austin Clark is a 4-star offensive lineman from Virginia who is headed to Columbia to block for South Carolina.
At 6'6" and 297 pounds, Clark's length is noticeable right off the bat. Next, he uses it well by consistently keeping defenders from getting inside his body at the point of attack. He possesses solid footwork in both pass protection and run blocking, as well as adequate quickness to stay in position to sustain through the whistle.
Whether it be as a tackle or guard, Clark will be a starter for the Gamecocks.
Tyler Carr, OL
Auburn boasts a commitment from 4-star offensive lineman Tyler Carr, who hails from Alabama. Carr has solid movement skills, but he appears to be more of a short-area mauler.
A bully in a phone booth, Carr is already 6'5" and 311 pounds. His size, length, strength and tenacity project well into Auburn's power-running game that's masked by spread formations. On the edges, Carr works best as a right tackle. However, he could be even better inside at guard.
SEC defensive linemen will not enjoy matching up against Carr.
Lester Cotton, OG
To dominate in the trenches, an offensive lineman needs to have great toughness and power. Those two traits are often displayed by Lester Cotton, a 4-star guard committed to Alabama.
The 6'4", 325-pounder has solid first-step quickness and a sharp punch at the point of attack. Cotton plays like a giant when striking defenders, as he can short-set and anchor well in pass protection. His physicality is seen even more easily when he drives defensive tackles out of alleys as a run-blocker.
Cotton told the following to D.C. Reeves of TideSports.com (subscription required) on July 4:
Coach said I could play football," Cotton said. "I didn't really want to, I was a basketball player. But I knew compared to basketball, football was an easier way for me to get out of Tuscaloosa (as a professional). So I just put some extra effort to it, and I got stronger and bigger and when I realized I could play with these other top athletes it put it into my mind that I could get there.
Daylon Mack, DT
School: Texas A&M
Being strong up the middle is the key to every team's success in any sport. Texas A&M seems to be understanding this more and more, evidenced by the Aggies securing a pledge from 5-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack.
A Texan, Mack is a stout 6'2" and 310 pounds. He explodes out of his stance with a burst at the snap before using his strength and power to walk blockers into the backfield.
Mack has the ability to make a mess versus running plays, and centers and guards will need to work in tandem to handle him as a pass-rusher.
Maea Teuhema, OL
At 6'4.5" and 340 pounds, Maea Teuhema has college-level strength and power right now. He is a massive man who also possesses surprising agility and quickness.
From Texas, Teuhema has no issues punching at the point of attack before running his feet to move his man out of the way. He makes sure his punches hurt, plus he can dig anchoring defensive linemen out of holes.
As a pass-blocker, defenders will not bull-rush this guy. He moves well in space, plus he'll bury his man if they slip during the rush. Teuhema can anchor as a short-setter or deep-setter, plus he can dominate as a guard or tackle.
LSU could see the 5-star blocker make an immediate impact in 2015.