This post continues a series evaluating our recruiting class. Today we're looking at defensive tackles.
Gerald Dixon, Jr. Dixon is a project and likely faces a redshirt year. The speed is a little lacking, even for a DT, but Dixon has good size and could provide quality depth with further development. Remember, too, that at a position that suffers a lot of injuries, it's a good idea to farm depth.
Phillip Dukes. One of the prize recruit of this class, Dukes is probably the best true DT in this class, although Kelcy Quarles may arguably have a bigger impact. Dukes comes in as the nation's 9th-rated DT. At 295 pounds of muscle, he'll probably be as ready to go as you can expect a freshman DT to be. I was also impressed with his ability to pursue RBs while they try to find a hole; he appears to both be a guy who's big enough to push opposing linemen around as well one who can work his way into plays that are directed away from him. It will be interesting to see if we redshirt him or not. Usually, redshirting is the way to go with DTs, especially considering that we have some good returning talent at the position. That said, Dukes is good to play, especially if we struggle with injuries.
Deon Green. A project, Green is probably facing a redshirt year. He was good enough to warrant an offer from Auburn, though, which tells me that he's a very worthwhile prospect.
Kelcy Quarles. Quarles is the highest rated player on this list. He was one of the nation's top recruits in 2010, but he had to go to prep school for a year due to academics. Now, though, he's ready to make his contribution at Carolina. Quarles isn't quite as big as Dukes and may be more fitted to a hybrid DT / DE role like Melvin Ingram played last season. He played both positions in high school. Watching his videos, what really struck me was how fast this guy is. He can blow by linemen, pursue, and even looks good in drop-back coverage. I expect we'll see a lot of him this season, particularly on passing downs.
Grade: A. It would be hard to argue against the quality of this portion of our class. Dukes and Quarles give us likely All-SEC considerations, while Green and Dixon provide quality depth. And you really can't minimize the importance of a good defensive interior. For years, Carolina was the team that everyone ran the ball up the gut against. With guys like this, though, that could be changing.