Best 1-2 Punch in 2019: Defensive linemen
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
With 2019 in the rear-view mirror, let’s take a look at the teams that brought in the best 1-2 punches at each position. Today we continue with the defensive line.
The skinny: Alabama has had an assembly line of top-level defensive tackles roll through Tuscaloosa in the last decade, and that looks likely to continue with the additions of both Alfano and Young. Both are Rivals100 prospects and while true freshmen defensive linemen don’t regularly get a great deal of run at Alabama, Alfano and Young are both talented enough to push that issue.
Farrell’s take: This is a great combination of interior linemen and both could be absolute stars at Alabama. Alfano is special and has already added weight and strength since being on campus and Young is one of those guys who misses the Rivals100 but could be a standout down the line a la Quinnen Williams.
The skinny: Winning the Thibodeaux sweepstakes was a huge recruiting victory for the Ducks and further solidified what was already a very impressive class. Also, the Pac-12 programs have had an issue keeping elite West Coast talent home, so keeping a standout such as Thibodeaux in the conference was important. Potentially lining up opposite Thibodeaux for the next couple of years very well may be Funa, who committed to the Ducks during the spring over a host of offers. Both filled a position of need for Oregon and should be names that will make plenty of noise during their time in Eugene.
Farrell’s take: This is a great defensive line duo as each brings something different to the table. Thibodeaux is an elite outside pass rusher with great length and Funa can rush the passer but also play the run. Oregon’s defensive line moving forward should be very impressive.
3. SOUTH CAROLINA
The skinny: The state of South Carolina has quietly become one of the hotbeds when it comes to producing elite defensive ends. This made it extra special for the Gamecocks when they were able to grab Pickens in late May. Only a couple of days later South Carolina may have found its pass rushing duo of the future when Anderson committed in early June. The Gamecocks beat out many of the elite programs in the country for both of these potential stars, which is something coach Will Muschamp and his staff should be proud of.
Farrell’s take: I love this duo as Pickens is a big end who could grow into a defensive tackle while Anderson is a pure outside pass rusher who could play standing up if needed. They bring a great combination of power and speed to the table and will make the South Carolina defensive line nasty sooner than later.
The skinny: Anytime you can flip an elite recruit from Alabama on National Signing Day, you have done something right. That was the case with Bogle and the Gators, who fought tooth-and-nail to get the in-state prospect to Gainesville. Long before Bogle committed, the Gators added Diabate, who spurned hometown Auburn for Florida. The Gators look to have plenty of recruiting momentum heading into the 2020 class and these two ends are one reason why.
Farrell’s take: Both players have room to fill out and bring raw speed and athleticism to the table. In a couple years this could be a nasty duo. Both have elite outside pass rushing skills and quickness off the snap as well as long frames.
The skinny: Hinton, a five-star from Georgia, surprised many with his commitment to Michigan in August. His relationship with Jim Harbaugh and his staff, plus the education he would receive in Ann Arbor put the Wolverines over the top. Georgia continued to press Hinton until he signed his NLI, but was never able to pull him away from Michigan. Joining Hinton on the interior defensive line in Ann Arbor will be Smith, who was less of a surprise when he committed in June after an official visit. Together, the duo should flourish under defensive coordinator Don Brown’s leadership.
Farrell’s take: These two could be nasty in the middle moving forward as Hinton brings pass rushing ability and athleticism to the table while Smith offers power and the ability to stuff the run. In Michigan’s system this could be a great combination very early.