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2021 USF Spring Practice Preview: Defensive Line

Several familiar faces return to the line this spring. Will that continuity translate to improved play this fall?

NCAA Football: Central Florida at South Florida Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Spring practice begins today so we will breakdown each position group as we gear up for football season. Note: We will not guess on what impact freshmen who are not on campus yet will have on the team.

Defensive Line

Position Coach: Da’Quan Bowers

Key Losses: John Waller (2020 Opt-out)

Key Returners: DT- Thad Mangum (37 tackles, four TFLs), Blake Green (21 tackles, 1.5 TFLs), Rashawn Yates (19 tackles, TFLs, one sack), Kelvin Pinkney (14 tackles, four TFL, one sack); DE- Jason Vaughn (11 tackles), Darrien Grant (10 tackles), Tramel Logan (six tackles, one sack), Ryan Thaxton

Key Additions: DE Jamari Stewart (Mississippi State transfer)

There’s been a lot to be desired from the USF defensive line for the past few years but if there’s anything the corps can hang their hat on entering the spring, it’s the fact that they’ll have an abundance of experience to lean on.

Particularly on the interior, Blake Green, Thad Mangum and Rashawn Yates all made at least eight starts during the 2020 season with #StillinTheLeague candidates Kelvin Pinkney and Kevin Kegler also returning to the fold.

Off the edge, Jason Vaughn and Darrien Grant were the leading contributors last fall with Tennessee transfer Ryan Thaxton also serving as a player to watch emerge this spring. The unit got major help in the offseason with the addition of Mississippi State transfer Jamari Stewart during the early signing period. While not on campus yet, New Mexico State transfer Xander Yarberough is also poised to push for burn when he arrives to campus this summer.

The lack of pressure and subsequently havoc plays from the line has been apparent in recent years with the group combining for only 13.5 TFLs and three sacks in 2020. One would hope that the presence of so many veterans and a full spring slate under Coach Bowers will trigger an increase in those numbers this fall.