South Carolina is coming off of a much needed bye week after losing star running back Marcus Lattimore for the season, and Arkansas has won three of its last four games on the way to a 4-5 record after starting the season 1-5. Arkansas has been the subject of a lot of off-field distraction in 2012, mainly due to former head coach Bobby Petrino but the team certainly hasn’t helped calm the fans on the field.
Still, this game features some future NFL players, potentially some future stars in the league. Perhaps the best NFL prospect in this game is not yet draft eligible, but South Carolina defensive end Jadaveon Clowney is still a blast to watch.
Here are the top available prospects for each team:
Here is a preview from our South Carolina top prospect page:
98 Devin Taylor, Defensive End, Senior, 6’6″ 260 pounds
One of the top defensive ends in his class, Taylor has been producing ever since he was a sophomore for the Gamecocks. He has great size for a base defensive end, and he can both stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback. As a sophomore, he had 12 tackles for loss and eight sacks, and he followed that up in 2011 as a junior with 8.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. Really good in pursuit, a fantastic athlete, and his length allows him to recover quickly against linemen who otherwise might have the upper hand. Does a good job of getting his hands in the quarterbacks face, causing disruption in the passing lanes. Has some experience dropping back in coverage, and had an interception for a touchdown last season. He could be a candidate to play end/OLB in a 3-4 alignment. Has very good quickness and speed off the ball in passing situations. Could be an elite pass rusher at the NFL level if he works hard enough. Does a pretty good job of reading plays and the direction the play is developing. Knows when to stay home and when to push upfield. Can get caught guessing at times. Overall, he looks like a solid top 64 prospect who has a lot of upside as a pass rusher/base defensive end in a 4-3 or 3-4 alignment.
Big, lanky defensive end prospect who is nothing short of a playmaker. He burst on to the scene as a sophomore last year when he had 12 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, and an astounding 8 passes broken up. Taylor also had 11 quarterback hurries, and proved to be one of the most valuable pieces of the South Carolina defense. First team All-SEC selection who could add weight and become a dominant force at the defensive end position. Taylor is also on Phil Steele’s first team All-American list for the 2011 season, an indication of how much progress he made last year. Taylor also had an interception for a touchdown this past season against Tennessee. Only 19 career starts, but right now, he has the makings of a special player. He could really emerge in 2011 with the overall talent of the South Carolina defensive line.