June 22, 2007
Redshirts of influence - Defense
Analysis and commentary by Keith Allsep.
This season, South Carolina will look to six key members of the 2007 squad that did not play last season. Each of these players redshirted for various reasons, whether it was due to injury, or in some cases, the players needed a redshirt year to get their body ready to play in the difficult Southeastern Conference. Each player has a unique story, but all have a common goal, to help the Gamecocks win their first SEC crown. In this column, we profile three defensive players coming off redshirts who are expected to make big impacts in 2007.
Heading into the 2006 season, there was little doubt that defensive tackle Marque Hall was Carolina's top defensive lineman. The 6-foot-3, 303-pound trenchman appeared ready to fulfill the expectations placed upon him when he arrived in the fall of 2004. Hall was rated a four-star prospect and one of the top 10 defensive tackles nationally. The Gamecocks won a hard fought recruiting battle with Tennessee, North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia Tech for the big man's services. After starting the final three games of his freshman season, big things were expected from the Wingate, N.C. standout. However, a summer virus caused Hall to decrease his body weight over 20 pounds. As a result, Hall played the 2005 season in the 265-270-pound range, which is too light for trench warfare in the SEC.
With the hiring of defensive line coach Brad Lawing, who recruited Hall out of high school and was very familiar with his abilities as a player, and Hall getting his body weight back up to 295 pounds, it appeared the stars were in alignment for Hall to have a breakout campaign in 2006. True to form, Hall was dominant in USC's season opening shut-out victory at Mississippi State, as he recorded five tackles and one sack, which knocked out MSU quarterback Matt Henig, breaking his collar bone. However, the following week against Georgia, Hall suffered a season-ending injury to his left knee. Fortunately, the big defensive tackle qualified for a medical redshirt and has been granted that request, which classifies Hall as a redshirt junior this season. Hall should be fully recovered by the time practice gets underway in August, and a breakout season could finally be in the offing.
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