CHARLESTON, S.C. - First week of camp and Charleston Southern football is already looking strong heading into the 2018 season. The Bucs will be breaking down the team throughout the fall camp toward the opener in Gainesville with position group-by-position group previews. In today's edition, we take a look at the defensive line.
Projected Starters (Based on Preseason Two-Deep): Anton Williams, Johnny Robinson, Shaundre Mims, Solomon Brown
Other Returners: Jacob Garibay, Jonathan Glover
Lost: Anthony Ellis, Mike Taylor, Nick Sands, Markeith Bailey, Noah Oliver, Terrance Norman Jr., Eishaun Funnye, Ramel Hambrick-Crawford, Skyler Curry
Additions/Newcomers: Jahid Beamon, John Brown, Sa'Veon Butler, Darrius Harris, Aaron Harrison, Jon Pohahau, Ramero Rock, Taequan Washington, Amani Williams-Casteal
Three Things to Watch
All-American Candidates Up Front
Solomon Brown and Johnny Robinson return for their senior seasons at the front of the Buccaneers defense and the two are considered to be among the top players at their respective positions in FCS. Recently, Brown was recognized as the top player in FCS to wear No. 34 (https://herosports.com/fcs/football-best-player-34-solomon-brown-charleston-southern-cici) and boasts an impressive resume to date. The Central, S.C. native is a three-time First Team All-Conference selection at linebacker and defensive end, and is coming off a season where he finished second in the conference in tackles among linemen, as well as finishing in the top 10 in sacks and tackles for loss. Robinson burst onto the scene this past year in a big way as the rising senior defensive tackle set career-highs in sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (12.0). He was at his best in the biggest games with a career-high eight tackles and three tackles for loss against Monmouth, as well as five tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks in the win over Gardner-Webb. The two will be counted on to carry the load up front for the Bucs as CSU looks to replace a majority of known players on the defensive side.
Replacing Number 8
One of the biggest question marks entering CSU's preseason camp is who will replace All-American and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Anthony Ellis. Ellis led the Big South in tackles for loss for the third consecutive season with 16.0, and tied for the most forced fumbles with three. He wrapped up his career as just the second player in conference history to post three 7.0 sack seasons, while his 24.0 career sacks and 51.5 tackles for loss put him second all-time in the Big South in both categories. Anton Williams will have the first crack at replacing the Apopka, Fla. native with the rising sophomore posting a strong spring semester in earning the starting nod in the preseason two-deep. Returners Jonathan Glover and Jacob Garibay will also line up on the outside, while a number of the newcomers will attempt to make their mark early in the season.
Owning the Line of Scrimmage
One thing that will not change about the Charleston Southern defensive line – the Bucs will get after the quarterback and disrupt the line of scrimmage. Charleston Southern finished 10th overall in the FCS in team sacks with 3.09 per game, and 17th in FCS in team tackles per loss with 7.5 per game. Three different players were ranked among the top 10 in the conference in both individual categories, and Ellis and Robinson were both in the top 50 individually in tackles for loss per game. It continues a trend started in 2016 when the Bucs were in the top 25 in each of the team categories. Throughout spring practice, defensive line coach Josh Cooper had the group primed and ready as the team dominated the line of scrimmage in both spring scrimmage sessions. Facing run-heavy offenses in Kennesaw State and The Citadel this season, the Bucs are expected to hold their own on the line in 2018.
Player Spotlight – Johnny Robinson
1 – The Buccaneers led the Big South Conference in sacks by a wide margin. CSU was the only conference team ranked in the FCS top 50, sitting 10th in the country in sacks per game at 3.09.
83 – Charleston Southern owned the line of scrimmage last season posting 83.0 team tackles for loss, including three separate games (Point – 10.0, Mississippi Valley State – 15.0, and Gardner-Webb – 13.0) with double-digit stops behind the line
Charleston Southern continues practice on Tuesday afternoon in helmets and shoulder pads, before strapping on the pads for the first time on Wednesday.