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South Carolina football 2014 preview: J.T. Surratt

The senior defensive tackle will be looked upon for leadership as lone defensive lineman with extensive experience.

J.T. Surratt
Redshirt senior defensive tackle
6'2, 305
Winston-Salem, N.C.

Surratt was a consensus three-star prospect and considered 79th- and 94th-best DT in the nation by Scout and ESPN, respectively, but was unranked at his position by other services. Surratt was lightly recruited out of Winston-Salem (N.C.) Parkland. USC and Louisville were his only major offers. Given that he's considered the anchor of a top-flight SEC program's defensive line heading into his senior year, it's safe to say he's more than exceeded what was expected from him. Surratt is yet another example of a diamond in the rough found and developed by the Carolina coaching staff.

Other offers: Louisville, East Carolina, Marshall, Western Carolina

College Career:
As a lightly recruited DT, Surratt flew under the radar in his first two seasons while redshirting in 2010 and seeing limited time as a reserve in 2011.

It was during the 2012 season when Surratt began increasingly producing positive buzz out of spring and fall camp. Over the course of the season, Surratt lived up to the hype as he saw his playing time increase as a reserve behind Kelcy Quarles and Byron Jerideau. He logged 14 tackles with 2.5 for a loss and a half sack.

With Jerideau graduated in 2013, Surratt started all 13 games. On the season, he had 33 tackles, four for a loss, and 1.5 sacks. He had a career game against Kentucky, when he tied for the team lead with six tackles.

2014 Outlook:
As the lone returning starter on the defensive line heading into his redshirt senior season, Surratt will be looked to for leadership. Although not considered an elite player, Saturday Down South called Surratt the ninth-best DT in the SEC heading into the spring. This accolade suggests that Surratt has a realistic chance to earn all-conference honors if he has a better-than-expected season. NFL Draft Scout ranks him the 25th-best DT prospect at the moment, suggesting an outside chance at being drafted.

Surratt's first career start occurred under inauspicious circumstances: he started against Florida in 2012 because the Gamecock defense took the field in a goal-line defense after Connor Shaw fumbled deep in Carolina territory. Surratt was a second-stringer in the base defense at the time but a starter in the goal-line defense.

Surratt's first sack, though, will be remembered fondly, as he teamed up with Byron Jerideau to notch a half sack against Clemson in 2012.

Beat writer's terrible double-meaning lede:
"To Deke Adams, Surratt isn't just the last name of a boarding house owner who was convicted of taking part in the conspiracy to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. It's also the last name a hulking man-beast of a defensive lineman who views every snap as an opportunity to assassinate the quarterback."