THERE’S A LOT OF TALK ABOUT WHO IS THE BEST DEFENSIVE LINEMAN IN SOUTH
Carolina, but it’s a forgone conclusion in the Upstate.
Huggins doesn’t just control the line of scrimmage, he mercilessly dictates it.
Already 6-foot- 2, 279 pounds, college coaches are projecting him as a defensive
tackle that can do a good mix of pass rushing and run stopping.
“He’s the top player in the state and one of the best in the country,” Pughe said.
Though it makes sense for someone of Huggins’ stature to play defensive tackle, he’s
got the undeniable talent to possibly shift to a strong-side defensive end.
His versatility against the run and the pass is making him a hot commodity.
But like the other players listed here, coaches are also raving about how Huggins
competes at every turn.
“There’s a rivalry there between Huggins, Blackshear and Barnett,” Pughe said.
“These guys are so competitive with each other that even at these combines, they want
to do more bench press reps than the other, have a faster shuttle, a faster 40 time. It’s
definitely a competition between them to prove who is the best.”
Huggins had 65 tackles last year for coach Tommy Brown, including 13 for loss and
11 of those were for sacks.
IF BARNETT HAS HAD A STRESSFUL WEEK,
that’s bad news for whoever has to keep him out of
the backfield that Friday night.
The 6-foot- 4, 239-pound defensive end calls foot-
College caches like that, and they want a player like
ball his “stress reliever.”
“I’m not one to fight or anything, so I just take my
anger out on the field,” Barnett “How people are pas-
sionate about cars or whatever, that’s how I am with
Barnett isn’t a flashy pass-rusher. He said his style
of play is “just getting the job done.”
“Play fast and find a way to get [to the ball],” Bar-
Barnett on their team. That lucky team was almost
Virginia Tech, but Barnett withdrew his commitment
during the spring.
Barnett could never be mistaken for taking plays
off. It’s hard to say anyone is taking any play off when
they rack up 33 tackles for loss the way he did last
“We have to run the game,” Barnett said, referring
to himself and the rest of his defensive line. “Anytime
I see a run play or think somebody’s getting the ball, I
just tackle them before they can get any type of yards.”
Barnett also posted 89 tackles and seven sacks
last year for coach Mathis Burnette, forcing five
fumbles. Do the math and 26 of his tackles for loss
were him stopping running plays in the backfield.
“We don’t play anyone who runs the spread,” Bar-
“He can do it all, he gets after the passer, and he is
nett said. “But I have gotten a few sacks when they do
decide to pass the ball.”
Pughe said Barnett will be a great strong-side de-
fensive end in college.
great in stopping the run,” Pughe said. “If you look at
his combine numbers, you don’t see too many kids at
his size doing what he does.”
THE AREA AROUND HILTON HEAD ISLAND IS
quiet and peaceful. It’s quite the opposite of the
way Blackshear plays the game.
This 6-foot- 4, 245-pound defensive end was
built to hit people.
“I don’t like to compare myself to too many
people. I just like to play athletic and real physical.
I’ll come at you 100 percent and just hit you in
the mouth,” Blackshear said. “I always try to hit
people as hard as I can.”
He derives his mean streak from a passion
to make a better life for his family. One day, he
hopes to look back on his days in the Lowcountry
with an NFL contract in hand.
“Football means a lot to me. I came up from
not having much and I want to provide for my
family. Not being able to have a lot of things
growing up just drives me to push it out there,”
His determination has been bad news for
opponents. He was the first one of these defensive linemen to make a college choice. Coaches
had been coming after him for years before he
committed to head coach Steve Spurrier and
A late bloomer he is not.
“After a while [the recruiting process] be-
came too much,” he said.
Blackshear had 106 tackles and seven sacks
as a junior – even while facing double and triple
teams – playing for head coach Ken Cribb.
“He’s a kid that has a lot of upside to his
game,” Pughe said. “Many believe that he has
the upside of a Jadeveon Clowney.”